CES 2017: Top Trends, Tips and Tricks

CES 2017

CES 2017 showed us that IoT, autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence are still major conversation drivers.

What were the big trends of CES 2017? IoT, autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence. This year we saw exciting advancements, especially in the IoT. And let’s not forget Alexa, the technology that stole everyone’s hearts. Here are some of the biggest trends we saw this year and the products behind them:

IoT Finally Connects the Dots

For the past few years, IoT devices have dominated the show floor at CES, but this is the first year we saw IoT products actually working together. A novel thought, no? This has always been the vision of IoT but instead of taking the next step in this “connected lifestyle” we’re trying to create, companies have crowded the market with new devices. The amount of integrations we saw with Alexa this year was a bit overwhelming, but it signals we might finally be going in the right direction. Yes, there are still hurdles to jump in IoT– particularly security and interoperability, but CES 2017 demonstrated we’re off to a good start.

Diversity Takes a Front Seat

Diversity has been a hot button topic in the tech space for years, with the criticism of low diversity growth hovering above companies from Google to Microsoft. But CES 2017 proved that we’re taking steps to combat this issue as an industry. A number of female-founded companies presented devices and gadgets geared towards women, including CEO Naomi Kelman of Willow, with a smart breast pump that slides into a nursing mother’s bra and allows for hands free pumping as well as Lea von Bidder of Ava and its fertility-tracking wristband.

The Consumer-Enterprise Crossover

The most impactful products — ones like standout star Amazon Alexa — will not solely be marketed or made for consumer-use, but will begin to offer enterprise use cases, as well. We saw this back in November, when Atlassian ecosystem partner, SoftServe, built out a function to allow Alexa to work with Atlassian’s HipChat platform. We will continue to see this trend as IoT evolves. After all, what worker doesn’t want a personal assistant?

Capturing the Media’s Attention

Whether you’re touting a veteran crowd pleaser or a break out star, the biggest obstacle at CES is getting in front of the right people. For companies attending the show this year, the timing was very difficult. Many members of the media arrived days before it started and left after the first day. But good news! The show dates are a week later: CES 2018 will be held January 9-12 (Tuesday to Friday), which gives us all an extra week to plan. With that in mind, we’ve put together a few tips for rising above the noise:

 

  • Start early: Start pitching press meetings and demos ahead of the show to shrink the competitive landscape. Press are grateful because they often find the show too large to see everything they want. The earlier you can get a product on a journalist’s radar, the better.
  • Pre-shows, pre-shows, pre-shows:  Pepcom, Showstoppers and CES Unveiled are simple solutions for presenting your product to press in an intimate venue. They quiet the noise of CES’s thirty-two thousand plus exhibitors and allow journalists to focus on your product.
  • Get on your feet: Don’t wait for journalists to find you. With over 170,000 attendees, most journalists can’t get through the entirety of CES, even in a full week’s time. You have to find them. Gather a portable version of your product and hit the aisles yourself!

 

Post co-authored by Stephanie Burke, Senior Account Executive, New York

Stephanie Burke is a senior account executive at Highwire PR. Stephanie supports corporate, consumer and enterprise technology clients, with an emphasis on campaign planning, media relations and events execution. From tech startups to today’s biggest brands, Stephanie supports and leads a variety of campaigns focused on building credibility and awareness of both products and brands.

 

 

5 Tips for Surviving CES (Or Any Tradeshow or Conference)

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) takes place each year in Las Vegas immediately following the Times Square ball drop. (All right–it’s several days later but feels sooner.) It kicks off the new year and heralds the beginning of the busy tradeshow and conference season. CES brings together 170,000 global consumer electronics industry insiders – not only companies but also retailers, distributors, manufacturers, service providers, buyers, suppliers and shippers. Even the U.S. Postal Service was there, offering a giant Tetris video competition to attendees.

CES 2016 showcased  many cool new products ranging from autonomous cars to virtual reality goggles to robot pals and  coding caterpillars. But I’m not going to highlight these when many of my favorite news outlets do it much more succinctly (see here, here and here but come back here after!).

Instead, I’m offering a survival guide to what we public relations professionals like to refer to as our Super Bowl, if the Super Bowl lasted for a week and had terrible Wi-Fi. CES is full of high highs, low lows, long days/nights and gratuitous eating and drinking. How am I qualified to give you these tips, you might ask? Well, I’ve just survived another CES and have multiple other tradeshows under my belt to draw from. So, read on!

CES Survival Guide Tip #1: Pack (stylish) sneakers

CES is spread over two convention centers and countless hotels along Vegas’ famous strip. Exhibit space covers 2.2 MILLION SQUARE MILES and if you’re on the hunt for press contacts or edible food, comfortable shoes are your greatest ally. This year, I walked an average of 5 miles a day, which was great for my fitness but not for my feet.

Most tradeshows’ hours extend far beyond the showfloor times, so you’ll need footwear that lasts longer than your iPhone battery, which brings me to my next tip…

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Wear what you need to wear to stay comfortable.

CES Survival Guide Tip #2: Bring USB battery packs

You know that sinking feeling you get when your battery percentage dips into the red zone and you’re simultaneously texting a client, calling a reporter and flagging down a cameraman? Ain’t nobody got time for low juice, so get savvy by packing USB battery packs. Charge them as often as possible back in your hotel room, stick a few in your bag and save your anxiety for ensuring your client hits all his talking points.

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Avoid this terrifying possibility. (Image: Gizmodo)

CES Survival Guide Tip #3: Give yourself at least 30-to-60 minutes as a travel buffer

Don’t let Google Maps fool you into thinking that the Sands Convention Center is a short 10-minute walk from The Mirage hotel. Vegas was designed to confuse its denizens. You get from Point A to Point B by winding through The Venetian’s blinging slot machines, ritzy Grand Canal Shoppes, jumping over said “canal,” passing three Cookie Monsters and two Elmos and asking three hostesses, “How do I get out of here?!”

Also don’t believe that the Las Vegas Convention Center is a 15-minute drive from anywhere. Traffic is terrible and it will take you at least twice as long. Try to take the shuttle, the monorail or your own two feet everywhere and give yourself a solid travel buffer.

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Always expect back-to-back traffic

CES Survival Guide Tip #4: Hydrate!

Obvious, right? Well, when you’re juggling multiple clients, tracking down reporters, managing interviews, scanning for coverage, handling booth conversations and then networking at Lavo (highly recommended, by the way), you sometimes forget to drink water. This is a mistake. Vegas is an unforgiving desert and she will punish you for not taking the time to hydrate.

This is my MOST SECRET TIP, and I’m giving it up because CES makes you do crazy things: ask your hotel for a humidifier when you check in. It’s free and it will save your nose, throat, skin, you name it.

This guy has the right idea!

This guy has the right idea!

CES Survival Guide Tip #5: Don’t wear black cocktail dresses

This is for the ladies. Regardless how cute that black dress is, don’t wear it. You will be mistaken for a hostess and asked to fetch a drink order when you’re trying to schmooze.

cocktail

This dress is cute, but try it in a different color from black.

In all seriousness, I really enjoy CES. It’s a tremendously fascinating and fruitful event and an important place for consumer companies to launch new concepts and products, meet face-to-face with top-tier press and kick off the new year.  I’m proud of the work that Highwire PR has done at CES and other conferences (like HIMSS–which is in Vegas this year!–and RSA) in the past few years and look forward to preparing for 2017, which will start around…June.

Happy tradeshowing!

Do you have any CES or tradeshow survival tips to share? Put them in the comments or share with us on social!

How to Make Your Product Pop at Press Events

 

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Everything you wanted to know about running a successful tradeshow

For most, the majority of December is allocated towards quality time with friends and family. Except for those of us who work in consumer tech; for us, the holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year courtesy of the biggest consumer technology conference — CES.

The Consumer Electronics Show, which kicked off this week, features the latest and greatest in all things consumer tech. Once thought of as the only place to launch new products, several big-name companies have opted out of the conference in recent years in favor of a less crowded and expensive platform in which to announce their latest news (Here’s looking at you, Facebook and Apple). With that, many key media have announced their retirement from the CES stage as well, opting for more intimate press gatherings that focus on a select group of new products and participants.

Pepcom, ShowStoppers and the like allow companies to get in front of top tier media by organizing small mixers at startup-friendly prices. Although much more intimate than mega conferences like CES, it can still be tough to stand out in the crowd. That’s why the team here at Highwire suggests focusing on identifying creative ways to bring your booth to life in order to ensure you get the most value out of these shows.

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Develop Creative Ways to Stand Out

With a sea of booths on a showfloor, it’s important that you make sure your exhibits stand out and appeal to both journalists and consumers stopping by to check out your product. Consider doing something out of the box or unexpected to draw more people to your booth.

At CE Week this past summer, the Piper team rented a branded ice cream stand to raise awareness of the company and also treat attendees to an icy treat. Similarly, the Gyft team gave out branded cupcakes at Pepcom Holiday Spectacular, which was a great way for people to remember the company in the moment and later at home when they were enjoying their treat. In addition to food, show swag can also be a big draw to your booth at a press event.

Giveaways that relate back to your brand can be a big hit. For instance, at CES, Edyn gave away branded seed packets to tie into the garden theme of the product. At SXSW earlier this year, Piper sponsored an exclusive networking event and gave away a select number of passes on social media. Engaging the festival attendees created more brand awareness for Piper and allowed the company to garner a strong following at the event so they could learn when the next giveaway would take place.

 

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Engage Your Audience Through Interactive Demos

In addition to unique booth giveaways, companies should consider interactive demos to keep people at the booth and interested in the products. Take a cue from the Edyn team, who last year constructed an actual garden demo at CES complete with dirt, plants and their flagship Edyn Garden Sensor. The live demo provided a way for reporters to visualize the product and imagine how they would use it in their own gardens. At a recent Pepcom event, Gyft offered attendees the opportunity to sign up for Gyft on a giant tablet and send away a free gift card. Once people were able to walk through and try the app first-hand, they instantly saw how game-changing Gyft is and also got to keep a little something for themselves.

A great booth and creative giveaways don’t guarantee coverage, however, meaning that you’ll have to get out and mingle! Approaching strangers can be a nerve racking experience, especially when trying to sell a product. So nerve racking, in fact, that there are numerous books and classes focused on the art of pitching. As PR pros, we’re accustomed to pitching our products every day, albeit most often by email and/or phone. With the right preparation, however, anyone can tackle the aisles of Pepcom with pizzaz.

Practice Your Elevator Pitch

When on the show floor, you have less than 60 seconds to catch a reporter’s attention. Because of this, it is important that you are able to deliver a quick, digestible and on-message explanation of your product — on demand. Writing down, memorizing and practicing your elevator pitch in advance will help you come across clearly and articulately, while keeping you from any media mis-steps and showing reporters that you value and respect their time.

Have Your Product on Hand

A great elevator pitch can take you far, but when it comes to showing versus telling, a product demonstration will almost certainly take you one step closer to success. Having a product on hand, or nearby, is a great way to explain to journalists in real time how the product works to fulfill its dedicated use cases. If you can arrange for a live demonstration, like Piper coordinated at this year’s Emmy’s gifting suite, you’re almost guaranteed to seal the deal.

Location, Location, Location

Reeling the press in is a lot simpler if you’re in a location that drives a lot traffic, for example: a booth near the front entrance, a bar or food station.  Not only will you get a first look at who is attending, but you’ll be able to snag your favorite writer without having to hail him down from across the room. Who knows, you might also bond over your love for gin and tonics.

What has your experience been like at trade shows? Connect with us on social or share your comments below!

 

 

post co-authored by Rebecca Buttle Peri, Account Executive.

Rebecca Buttle Peri is an experienced public relations manager and media relations specialist with expertise in the rapidly evolving tech, mobile and entertainment spaces, having managed national and international campaigns for several enterprise and consumer tech accounts within a variety of sectors. Rebecca holds a BA in creative writing from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Highwire Expands to New York

It’s an exciting time for tech in NYC.

Not only are we celebrating Etsy’s recent IPO, but there are many smaller startups doing exciting things in different areas of tech. One of my favorite areas that is thriving in NYC is fintech. For obvious reasons, NYC is well-suited to be the fintech capital of the US and there are many innovative companies here using technology to solve problems for both the institutional and retail/consumer side of the business. From recent IPOs Virtu and OnDeck to the fledgling startups coming out of the FinTech Innovation Lab, you can find fintech startups at all stages of life in NYC.

The thriving fintech scene is one of the many reasons why Highwire is proud to announce the official opening of our NYC office, located in the WeWork NoMad space, alongside many tech startups. While our office may be new, our presence in NYC is not. We have been building our East Coast client base over the last year, with leaders in fintech, enterprise security and retail technology on our client roster, and have now begun expanding our team here as well.

I am very excited to open the NYC office for Highwire, as it allows me to experience the best of both worlds. I like to say that my background makes me ½ Wall Street and ½ Silicon Valley. For the last 7 years, I worked at a corporate communications firm started by ex-Wall Street analysts, where I helped enterprise technology, financial services, and payments companies manage communications around milestone events, including many IPOs. IPOs are an amazing growth milestone and I am proud to have helped so many CEOs and CFOs successfully manage communications on this important day. Prior to my corporate communications work, I was a Vice President at a Silicon Valley PR firm, spending several years in California and NYC offices, working with early Silicon Valley enterprise technology leaders.

Similarly, Highwire NYC combines the best of NYC and Silicon Valley. While we still call some of the most innovative Valley companies our clients, we are proud to support the NYC and broader East Coast tech scene as well.

Tech in NYC is thriving and Highwire is excited to be a part of the growing scene.