How to run a PR campaign for Mobile World Congress

February 2, 2016


By Anu Ramani

Anu Ramani is a specialist in international B2B communications.

More articles from Anu Ramani

Mobile World Congress has moved back to February this year after a later slot in 2015. It is the show of the year for the mobile ecosystem with over 2,000 exhibitors and 95,000 visitors – so it’s easy to get lost in the noise.Given its sky-high costs it makes sense for anyone exhibiting to maximise their investment by showcasing their best to media and analysts.

As you read this PRs around the world are making frantic calls to harassed journalists attending the show today, trying to book meetings – typically 30 minutes each – into executive schedules that look more like a satellite-launch critical path than anything else. And don’t even get me started on the battle for the stand meeting room.

Is it too late in the day, or too early? When should companies start their PR campaigns for MWC?

MWC is traditionally an analyst-heavy show and small to mid sized vendors in particular would be well advised to focus their attention on the analysts covering the sector, rather than trying to reach journalists. As it is usually difficult to get face time with an analyst at other times of the year, this works out well. Outreach to analysts usually starts in January, so it’s a good idea to line up all your messages just before the Christmas break in order to commence outreach when you’re back from the holidays.

Early January is when industry players generally begin setting out their stands and revealing what they will be showcasing in Barcelona. In 2016 operators and vendors have already announced customer deals and innovations galore to gain customer and media interest in the run up to the show.

If you are aiming to brief journalists at the show, leave it until slightly later into the quarter. Reporters usually wait for the big players such as Google and Android to announce their big events before scheduling other meetings. Reaching out to them in early January for a show briefing is a waste of time. If you have a product or customer announcement let them know. If not, start calling them in Feb.

If you’re used to the press briefing and ribbon cutting events of Asia, beware: at MWC, individual briefings work best. Be prepared for cancellations and last-minute changes in schedule as events overrun with a domino effect on the rest of the day. The good news is that journalists and analysts who need to bail on a briefing are usually nice about rearranging a phone or in-person briefing after the show.

Finally, as you get into the last two weeks before the show, be prepared for multiple rounds of schedule changes, and treat them with patience and good humour.

And the best piece of advice as you head off to Barcelona? See and be seen, take it all in. Take some time to wander the halls and enjoy the innovation – I’m looking forward to some really cool IoT deployments. And – oft-repeated but always true: wear comfortable shoes!


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