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London Tech Week: Getting good PR from events

June 21, 2023

London Tech Week is a calendar highlight for tech aficionados throughout the UK, whether they are close to the capital or further afield. Bringing together industry leaders and senior political figures for a packed agenda of keynotes and panels on the biggest topics and trends in tech, it’s a prime example of how something rooted in one industry can reach into countless other sectors and circles. Chances are, even if you’re not enthused about technology, you’ll be aware of London Tech Week or the stories that came out of it.

What sets London Tech Week apart from many other events is that it truly does feel like an event for the industry. It’s a moment — albeit one spread across three days — in time that helps shape the conversation in the tech space for the months that follow. It aims to be an event that establishes thought leadership, rather than one where business deals are the main focus (although they do still happen). B2B brands can learn a lot from this approach to their event marketing and PR in a post-pandemic world.

A different kind of selling

Pre-pandemic, trade shows were widely seen as one of the more effective ways of procuring new business leads and securing sales. Two-thirds of B2B marketers cited trade events as a source for qualified leads in 2018, and just over half noted events as being helpful in converting leads that were further along in the funnel. 2020 disrupted the sector and prompted a lot of questions about the future of tradeshows in marketing and PR strategies.

Fortunately, the pandemic doesn’t appear to have affected this too much. A 2022 survey found that 70 per cent of respondents had generated leads from trade shows. Companies are also feeling comfortable returning to in-person events, with businesses planning to attend an average of 47.2 events in 2023, which is in line with 2018/19 levels. What has changed, however, are audience sizes — and how competitive it is to attract them.

One survey found that eight out of 10 companies reported 2022 exhibition attendance figures that were lower than pre-pandemic. Another put event attendance numbers at around 65 per cent that of 2019. With dozens of companies all vying for the attention of a smaller number of attendees, standing out has never been more important. Focusing on the power of the sales team alone to capture visitors’ attention may not suffice. You also need to sell visitors on why they should visit your stand, often on more than the merits of your products or services alone.

An event, not a tour

Standing out begins by seeing the exhibition season as a series of shows, each with a defined strategy and messaging, rather than a product tour. Viewing it this way allows you to treat each important event as its own individual spectacle, which helps avoid PR activity becoming consistent to the point of homogeneity.

For example, one event may coincide with a new product release for a certain market. The hook for this event could therefore be the first unveiling of the new innovation, with messaging in support of this and a PR strategy built around highlighting that. This first-look at the product can serve as the attention-grabbing basis for media and influencer outreach and paid digital marketing activity ahead of the event.

No news? No problem — make some. Events can be a perfect platform for thought leadership, whether that comes in the form of speaking engagements during the event or thought leading assets that can be a focus at your stand. Launching an industry report or research can be a pull for media and regular attendees alike, with the added benefit of being an asset that can be leveraged post-event. As for speaker sessions or panel discussions, we can see from London Tech Week that these slots can attract attention that extends beyond the event itself.

Trade shows are showing signs of returning to their pre-pandemic power but there is no question that, with virtual events now a widely accepted and accessible option, people are pickier about what they will travel for. To get the most out of events, we need to make them more than just a date in the calendar.

If you are one of the tech aficionados drawn to London Tech Week, you might also like to read more about FINN Partners’ tech practice.

TAGS: Technology

POSTED BY: Tom Roden

Tom Roden