by Cassandra Cooper-Bagnall
Over the last few months, lockdown has forced cinemas, theatres, festivals and many more events to shut down. Many theatres aren’t looking to reopen until the back-end of this year, the movie industry has seen release delays to big titles such as ‘No Time To Die’, and tennis fans won’t be enjoying the back-and-forth of Wimbledon this summer.
At the same time, cancelled trade events are causing significant economic upheaval, and yet the impact of this hasn’t been quite as visible.
More than 500 trade shows have not taken place since lockdown began, costing $26 billion in lost orders. Many of the events have been postponed, but new dates are slow to materialize as the COVID environment keeps shifting.
For many businesses, trade events are how they raise their profile, create new networks, and expand their voice into new markets. They are a fundamental part of a business’ yearly brand awareness efforts – with these cancellations, business leaders are struggling to make up lost revenue.
So, the question remains – how do businesses achieve the same level of exposure, when its main avenue has shut its doors?
When implemented successfully, PR and digital marketing can significantly increase brand exposure and help businesses reach new markets, quickly and effectively. It might feel counter-productive to spend money on PR, when operations are being heavily tempered by the bottom line, but invisibility is a real risk in a crisis environment.
As a business, your success now depends on where your voice lands in the market and your unique set of differentiators. In order to maximize exposure, you need to be speaking to today’s issues, highlight how your products and services are responding to this new ‘agility market’, and talk to the right audience.
Trade events are popular because they do exactly that – they’re cost effective and businesses can indulge in face-to-face meetings with potential customers, giving them a golden opportunity to show off their development and unique offering. But it’s a mistake to assume that this can only be achieved through a physical event.
The business landscape has shifted considerably thanks to COVID-19. Businesses are taking their pipelines online, and are now having to target end-customers who are being daily bombarded with hundreds of new options. This is why a strong PR and digital marketing strategy is now vital to commercial growth. A flexible PR strategy will ensure that you are able to infiltrate even the most saturated of markets, and make your voice stand out from the crowd.
Like anything, success depends on a diverse range of factors. With PR and trade events, it doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. Generating a total global economic output of $26.2 billion a month, on average, this industry is not only vital in terms of revenue, but also translates into over 270,000 FTE jobs – something our economy is in desperate need of right now. Trade events will remain key to businesses as the lockdown restrictions ease and new dates are booked in - but as more and more connections are made online, they will no longer be enough.