Virtual CES and Pepcom 2021: Takeaways for Future Shows

Image Credit: GeekWire


As has become the 2021 norm, both Pepcom and CES were entirely different conferences year. Flashy booths and media stop-bys became virtual waiting rooms and video demos. Although the events were virtual, they were still a chance for companies to build relationships with media and showcase their consumer appeal.

Fittingly, Pepcom and CES used the very thing they celebrate — technology — to connect exhibitors with media. Booths appeared as boxes with company logos on a landing page, and brief descriptions of each exhibitor — along with a video link — helped attendees decide if they wanted to “stop by” and talk with someone from the company. Despite the updated experience, reporters, editors, producers, and hosts still flocked to the event. 

Some Highwire clients chose not to have a large presence at the shows, though the week did — somewhat unexpectedly — still prove to be a priority for media targets looking for news. Below are a few of Highwire’s standout campaigns:

Bespoken Spirits

While the company didn’t exhibit at CES, the team took a unique approach to connect with media attendees. The team highlighted Bespoken Spirits’ ability to tailor spirits in a matter of days vs. decades by leaning into the de-stressing effects of a good cocktail. Consumer and lifestyle reporters received a designed recipe card for a CES-themed cocktail and an offer to sample Bespoken whiskey. By including ingredients that most media already have at home (such as honey and syrup), the team also helped emphasize the company’s focus on sustainability.


This smart home company previewed a new matte black finish for its most recent smart lock, Level Touch, at Pepcom. The new finish, which turned several heads at the show, adds to momentum Level has seen in the past year driven by two product launches — Level Bolt and Level Touch. The team offered a firsthand look at the lock’s new finish through a video demo with the company to event attendees, which encouraged conversations with people the company had existing relationships with and expanded visibility with new faces.

Level’s 2021 Pepcom booth preview

Despite the virtual experience, these events were still a great opportunity for PR teams to build relationships with key media attendees and drive awareness for their clients. 

Based on the media feedback teams received, here are a few tips on how to best engage with attendees at future virtual events:

  1. Familiarity is everything: Strengthen pre-existing relationships by positioning the stop-bys as an informal chance to get the latest on the company. Be sure to reference the last conversation to jog the reporter’s memory.
  2. Give a reason to engage with the product: Get creative! Don’t simply offer a sample or review unit from your client, but give them a way to actively experience it (like we saw with Bespoken’s cocktail recipe).
  3. No news? No problem: If you don’t have news to announce, focus on introductions between relevant targets and your client by leaning into their beat. Check out their Muck Rack and Twitter pages, as well as recent coverage, to get a sense of what they’re covering. If they like what your client is showcasing, they still might include it in a Pepcom/CES roundup.

CES Decoded: What You Need to Know to Shine at Consumer Tech’s Biggest Show

In just a few weeks, CES will shine a spotlight on the latest and greatest in consumer tech. However, with all the noise at the show, it’s easy for even the most innovative brands to get lost in the shuffle.

At Highwire, we work with companies to create compelling stories and experiences that will help their products stand out from the pack. We’ve been on the show floor year after year with direct access to media and influencers, fine-tuning our approach and know just what it takes to sparkle brighter than most.

To share our know-how, we’ve created a new guide — CES Decoded — to uncover everything a PR professional needs to know going into consumer tech’s biggest show. The report includes top trends, like the future of transportation, smart home, AI and eCommerce/retail, as well as what we predict will stand out this year. We’ve also included the media and influencers that you need to reach and, most importantly, how you can catch their attention.

To download the report, please fill out the form below. If you are interested in learning more about how to make your brand shine at CES or in 2020, please don’t hesitate to reach out –

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It’s Time to Prepare for Your Post-Summer Product Launch

By Jonah Pettrich on Unsplash

We’re in the midst of summer and all we’re focused on is the joy of exemplary weather, barbecues, time with friends and family, vacations, and prepping for back to school…but what about that product you want to launch in the Fall, feature in a holiday gift guide or debut at CES?

Preparing for a product launch post-summer takes strategic planning and careful execution — breaking through the noise of back to school chatter, the holidays and large tech events in the Fall is no easy task. Luckily, we can help. 

As we approach Fall and the holiday season, here are a few tips and tricks to ensure you break through the noise:

Plan, Plan, Plan: When we refer to planning, we’re not just talking about your brand strategy or your go to market plan, we’re talking about taking a look at your calendar. The Fall and Winter are lined up with a multitude of technology events that run the news cycle for weeks at a time. With everything from Apple’s product announcements in September to MWC in October to Microsoft Ignite in November and AWS re:Invent in December, the tech community has a jam-packed next couple of months. 

To ensure your product will break through the noise of all these events, make sure you’re not aiming for a launch date the same day as Apple’s infamous September keynote. Chances are most, if not all, the reporters you’re targeting for coverage will be occupied during any week of a big tech event. 

Plan ahead and launch during a week where there is a lull in events or major product announcements — aim for a Wednesday or Thursday giving your team a couple of days earlier in the week to tease the news.

Give Yourself Enough Time: Product launches are notorious for being pushed back whether it’s due to setbacks with the visual assets, product functionality or production of the product itself. With that being said, you should plan for at least a one month cushion to prepare for any delays.

Let’s say you’re aiming to launch your products around the holidays. You’ll want reviews to come out in time for peak holiday shopping and you’ll want to place it in gift guides — your product review program needs to begin in September. Editors can take up to two months testing out a product ensuring there are no kinks and it delivers an experience consumers will enjoy and that’s before they even write the review. Don’t underestimate your product review programs lead time and miss out.

Get Creative: Breaking through the noise is all about standing out, doing something that’s never been done before and making an impact. Sure, this is all easier said than done but it’s not impossible. There are numerous creative ways to get your product seen before the big launch – we can help with that.

Teasing the product and creating a sense of desire is crucial to a successful launch. Create a video teaser and share on social media platforms or create a giveaway with a limited number of products and build that sense of urgency among your audience. Utilize the trend of influencers — partner with a macro-influencer or micro-influencer to get your product’s story in front of a new and targeted audience that matches your key demographics.  

You could even host a pop-up event with sample products for attendees to test out to build that excitement; don’t forget to have them share on their social media (who doesn’t love free press?). If you’re planning to debut at CES, you’ll need to carefully plan your approach as it is one of the noisiest shows and therefore, difficult to attract attention. To break through that noise, we suggest hosting a happy hour a day before the event starts to give reporters an exclusive look at your product or attending a press exclusive event.

We realize it’s only August and you just want to enjoy what’s left of your summer, but the reality is there’s no time like the present and it’s time to start executing against your launch plan to have a successful post-summer launch.