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press kits

xhibit marketing seems to be all about the booth. You've got to design it, build it, ship it, install it, staff it, dismantle it, and ship it back again. With all of these booth-related burdens, it's easy to overlook items seemingly unrelated to the booth, such as one of the most important details of your entire program: your press kit.

Granted, journalists usually don't buy your products, and many won't even make it to your booth. But if product or company awareness means anything to you, getting your news and information into the hands of the press - or better yet, into their carry-on bags for the return flight to the office - should be among your top priorities. After all, you can attract hundreds of people to your booth, but if just one journalist mentions your company in a publication or broadcast, you'll likely generate awareness far beyond those hundreds and far beyond the show.

Of course, press kits aren't the do all end all of press-communication strategies - as you may also need to add press events or meetings to your exhibit-marketing mix. However, press kits are likely the first, and perhaps only, impression you'll make on media representatives at the show. So they must not only contain the news and information journalists need to create their stories or follow up with you for more information, they must also have an innovative element, a one-off-ness that sets them apart from the masses.

Just as your exhibit competes for attention with a hall full of exhibits, your press kit competes with the stacks of other kits in the press room - and it doesn't have any dangling Cirque performers to give it an edge. So how do you present the information journalists need in a compelling manner that stands out amid the stacks, or better yet, convinces journalists to lug your kit home and leave the others behind? There's no single, magic answer. Instead, there are several answers, such as clever packaging, press-friendly giveaways, attention-getting placement within the press room, and even interactive activities within the kit.

The following press kits not only contain valuable news and information, but they've passed a critical test: EXHIBITOR writers - who, mind you, weren't remotely interested in such titillating topics as data recovery, solid-surfacing products, or stain-resistant fabric - lugged them home from recent trade shows. While each contains an innovative element that set it apart with a single glance, they're not all about pretty packaging: Each kit also contains effective, ah-ha ways of presenting its information. So when planning the press kits for your next show, consider the effective elements in these kits. After all, they not only made it into our carry-ons, they also made it into our magazine.

The Republic of Tea

Company Description: Premium-tea provider
Show: National Restaurant Association Restaurant Hotel-Motel Show, 2006
Product Target Audience: Restaurant and coffee-shop owners/operators
Communication Goals: Communicate the various tea offerings and lure journalists into trying a sample
Dimensions: 9-by-14.5 inches
Packaging: Vertical-open, lightweight cardboard folder, featuring a pocket for literature, a business-card slot, and a circular cutout for a tea sample
Contents: Sample of Red Tea, business card, booth invitation, product brochure, press releases, company-information sheet, product-launch timeline, and company charter
Total Cost per Kit: $15
Design/Production: The Republic of Tea, Novato, CA, 800-298-4832, www.republicoftea.com; Mez Design, Sausalito, CA, 415-331-4523,

Along with a press release about the company's new pomegranate-flavored tea, the kit includes 14 additional press releases and fact sheets about its different flavors and lines.

What better way to tempt journalists to try your product than to include a sample?

The vertical-open folder houses a company "charter," with text that begins "Whereby, we the people of The Republic of Tea hereby declare ... "

Unique Attribute

Rather than a ho-hum press kit in an oh-so-high-school folder, The Republic of Tea created this colorful, cultural, on-brand, 3-D press kit. The kits includes a nifty pocket for literature and press releases as well as a slot for a business card. However, the best part is a round cutout space for a sample tin of "Good Hope Vanilla" red tea bags.

DriveSavers Data Recovery Inc.

Company Description: Computer data-recovery services provider
Show: C3 Expo, 2006
Product Target Audience: All businesses, but particularly those with critical computer-related functions
Communication Goals: Establish trust in the company and its products by communicating the company's offerings, its celebrity clients, and the confidence those note-worthy clients have in its products and services
Dimensions: 9-by-12 inches
Packaging: Corporate-red folder
Contents: DVD of real data-recovery in action, reprints of published articles about DriveSavers' services, a press release, a RAID Recovery Services product sheet, a glossy testimonial sheet featuring celebrity photos and autographed endorsements, and a clear-plastic envelope holding a mouse pad, easy-reference service guide, Rolodex-ready business card, and postcard-like testimonial featuring characters from "The Simpsons"
Total Cost per Kit: $7.80
Design/Production: DriveSavers Data Recovery Inc., Novato, CA, 800-440-1904, www.drivesavers.com

The folder's red cover features the company's logo, tagline, and a sticker with the show name and the company's booth number. The company repurposes unused folders by simply placing a new show-specific sticker on the cover.

Upon opening the can't-miss corporate-red folder, your eye goes directly to the pocket flap on the right side, which touts "Seven good reasons to choose DriveSavers."

Unique Attribute

When your computer crashes, you need fast data recovery you can trust. That's why this kit offers published articles featuring the company's offerings, useful tips to prevent data loss, and testimonials from celebrities that have used the service. Full of useful information, this kit says, "Trust us; we're the best in the biz."

Otter Products LLC

Company Description: Provider of waterproof, drop-resistant, and crush-proof cases to safeguard technology and other valuables, such as iPhones, iPods, PDAs, laptops, etc.
Show: International Consumer Electronics Show, 2008
Product Target Audience: Electronic-device retailers and consumers
Communication Goals: Promote various OtterBox product lines by providing press members with a free OtterBox 1000 case
Dimensions: 8.5-by-6 inches
Packaging: Clear plastic bag
Contents: A 4-by-6-inch note card directing media members to the online press room, an OtterBox 1000 case, a business card from the company's PR executive, and a 32-page product brochure measuring only 2.5-by-3.75 inches
Total Cost per Kit: $2
Design/Production: Otter Products LLC, Fort Collins, CO, 888-695-8820, www.otterbox.com

Rather than bombarding the media with folders full of literature, Otter Products simply handed out its product, along with a 4-by-6-inch card, tiny product brochure, and business card, which directed recipients to a virtual press office to download electronic literature.

Measuring a mere 2.5-by-3.75 inches, the 32-page product brochure featured key data in easy-to-digest bullet points, along with photos of the products and potential scenarios in which the cases might be used.

Unique Attribute

Seeing is believing. That's why the folks at Otter Products LLC didn't just talk about their electronics cases and toss around words such as "crush-proof" and "drop-resistant," they gave away samples of the OtterBox 1000 case to let journalists judge for themselves. A pre-show e-mail invited members of the press to stop by Otter Products' booth for a complimentary case. Easily viewed within a plastic package, each case held a business card and a tiny product brochure.

Topcon Positioning Systems Inc.

Company Description: Manufacturer of precision positioning equipment used in construction, including GPS systems, lasers, optical-surveying equipment, and machine-control products
Show: World of Concrete, 2007
Product Target Audience: Road-construction firms
Communication Goals: Promote the new GR-3 satellite-tracking system and drive attendees to the booth to experience it
Dimensions: 15-by-15-inch bag
Packaging: Logo-adorned canvas tote bag, which was hung from a rack in the press room
Contents: CD featuring the new GR-3/G3 Technology, glossy product brochure, branded notebook and pen, and pocket exhibit guide
Total Cost per Kit: $13.16
Design/Production: Topcon Positioning Systems Inc., Livermore, CA, 925-245-8300, www.topconpositioning.com

The perfect vessel for the exhibitor's literature, this canvas bag is also a handy tote for other press kits as well. However, while other press kits disappear inside, the Topcon logo remains visible.

At least six stories totaling 28 pages in national magazines were generated via the press-room sponsorship and press kits.

Reporters love a good spiral-bound notebook and pen, and with the Topcon logo on every sheet of paper, they can't help but remember the thoughtful gift giver.

Unique Attribute

Topcon Positioning Systems Inc. took full advantage of its press-room sponsorship by putting its press kits front and center in the press room. Topcon placed its press materials in canvas tote bags and hung them from a display rack at the entrance to the press room. Among other things, the logo-adorned, easy-to-carry bags contained a handy exhibit pocket guide to draw people to the exhibit, a branded pen, and a spiral-bound notepad.

Crypton Inc.

Company Description: Manufacturer of stain removers, along with fabrics that are resistant to stains, moisture, mold, mildew, bacteria, and odor
Show: Hospitality Design Expo & Conference, 2007
Product Target Audience: Interior designers for the hospitality industry
Communication Goals: Demonstrate the ease, effectiveness, and multiple applications of Crypton Inc.'s fabric and stain removers, and provide information about the company and its Green initiatives
Dimensions: 11.5-by-13.5 inches
Packaging: Zippered pouch made of Crypton Inc.'s fabric
Contents: Crypton Sample Kit; booklet about the company mission, methodology, and Green initiatives; a product-information booklet including an upholstery-cleaner pamphlet and CD; a sample of disinfectant and deodorizer; and a folder filled with four press releases and additional product literature
Total Cost per Kit: $7.42
Design/Production: Crypton Inc., West Bloomfield, MI, 248-855-6000, www.cryptonfabric.com

The Crypton Sample Kit contains a sample of Crypton Suede Fabric, a crayon to mess it up, and Crypton's Care Cleaners. The text reads, "Go ahead, make a mess. Draw on it, spill on it, put it to the test. Then watch our fabric come clean!" A card insert features a chart that lists 34 typical stains in the Crypton product that should be used to remove each one.

A two-fold brochure inside the Crypton fabric pouch features a 5-by-5-inch product sample and text urging people to "Spill and See for Yourself!"

Unique Attribute

What are Crypton fabrics and stain removers? This press kit not only answers that question backwards, forwards, and inside out, it demonstrates the products' effectiveness. Made of Crypton Inc.'s own fabrics, the zippered pouch holds oodles of literature, such as a 36-page booklet on the company's Green initiatives and a 32-page product booklet. However, its shining stars are its two demo kits, allowing journalists to try out the fabric and stain removers for themselves, along with a folder featuring more literature and press releases.

LG Solid Source

Company Description: Provider of acrylic solid-surfacing products typically used in countertops
Show: Hospitality Design Expo & Conference, 2007
Product Target Audience: Hospitality-design and construction firms
Communication Goals: Generate awareness for the Company's LG Eden Collection, a certified-Green solution for acrylic solid-surfacing products
Dimensions: 7-inches long by 1.5-inches in diameter
Packaging: Cardboard self mailing tube
Contents: Thumb drive containing product literature, press releases, and photos
Total Cost per Kit: $6
Design/Production: Creative Marketing Solutions, Phoenix, 602-441-3487, www.creativemarketingsolutions.com

This cardboard tube does double duty as a pre- or post-show mailer, with space on the packaging for an address label and postage. Unused kits can be used to send product literature to attendees and journalists.

The green thumb drive is Green as well. The handy drive provides oodles of news and product information in electronic, as opposed to tree-slaying paper, format.

The electronic documents include not only press releases and product brochures but also product color chips and LG logos along with ready-to-use photography of eye-catching product displays.

Unique Attribute

Amid a press room stacked with flat, lifeless folders, this colorful, 3-D tube sticks out like a drop of fine red wine on a white-linen tablecloth. Promoting LG Solid Source LLC's new LG Eden Collection, an eco-friendly acrylic solid-surfacing product made from 12-percent recycled materials, the kit features wood and leaf images on its cardboard mailing tube. Inside, an Eden-branded 64MB thumb drive provides product literature, visuals, and press releases in electronic format.

Procore Technologies Inc.

Company Description: Provider of Procore, an online communication tool to help construction contractors schedule and confirm all project details with the entire project team
Show: World of Concrete, 2007
Product Target Audience: Construction contractors
Communication Goals: Highlight the ease and efficiencies of Procore software and services, and highlight new financial backing for the company
Dimensions: 13-by-10 inches
Packaging: Transparent shrink wrap
Contents: Press release regarding recent financing deal, full page of customer testimonials, company brochure, and a notepad, pen, and notepad holder featuring the Procore logo
Total Cost per Kit: $6.25
Design/Production: Articulate Creative, New York, 917-678-5315, www.articulatecreative.com; M.A. Apparel Inc., Hopkins, MN, 800-749-0822,

Rather than tell journalists how wonderful its products are, Procore Technologies Inc. used ten customer testimonials to relay the benefits and efficiencies of Procore's products without a word of marketing jargon.

A two-fold company brochure is nothing new, but its handwritten notes are effective and refreshing, drawing attention to key benefits.

Unique Attribute

Journalists like free stuff - but they love free stuff they can actually use. That's why Procore Technologies Inc. attached a press release and a page of customer testimonials to the top of a notepad, and then slipped it inside a branded notepad holder with an attached, similarly branded pen. To make sure journalists took its information along with the giveaway, Procore used transparent shrink wrap to create one neat bundle.

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