Louise Findlay-Wilson is MD of Energy PR which handles the international PR for events as wide-ranging as New York Toy Fair, StocExpo, Packaging Innovations, and ADF&PCD Shanghai.

Building a global trade show’s international visitor base takes time and focused commitment – but it can be done. For instance, we’ve handled the international PR for New York Toy Fair for many years. During this time the show has grown – indeed 2019’s edition had more than 26,000 visitors from 98 countries. The event’s international standing has been developed through a mix of media relations techniques. Here are six of my favourites:

Work out where your international audience is and where they source their information.
Which media are key and what role will social channels play? You need to get really clear about this.

Get your content right. 
International editors need content that ‘talks’ to their readers. Just because something is a trend or an issue in the UK doesn’t mean it will resonate in mainland Europe let alone China. Get your head into the mind of the audience and geography you are targeting. Also work hard to offer key editors exclusive pieces. The less generic your approach is, the better your results will be. Use your experts. Your speakers will be able to provide great content for international media, and if they have a global reputation, the overseas media will want to hear from them.  

Make it easy.
The last thing you want to do when you are trying to persuade a media title to carry your content is to put up a barrier – and language can be a barrier. So be prepared to translate your news. Professional translation services take a couple of days, so factor this time in. 

Help editors become ambassadors.  
If you want an overseas editor to talk about your trade show nothing is going to beat them experiencing it first-hand. So consider running paid for media delegations. It’s a cost but the power of having an editor positively reviewing their trip to your event – and of course sharing every step with their followers on social channels – can be phenomenal. And your relationship with that editor will deepen too.

Take an honest look at your show features.
You say you’re an international trade show but does your content really cater for that international audience? Toy Fair hosts receptions specifically for overseas visitors, it runs a special Q&A session for the international media with its experts and it invites international journalists to its prestigious TOTY awards. Everyone is left in no doubt that the show is open for ‘international business’ and that international visitors matter. Can you say the same about your event?  

These are just a handful of the many ways in which PR can drive an exhibition’s international visitor base. There are many others but my overarching advice is be tailored and commit to the long haul as it takes time – but once your event has a real international reputation it will be well worth the effort.


Louise Findlay-Wilson is a regular speaker and commentator on PR, digital and social media and owns leading agency, Energy PR. In a PR career spanning over 30 years, Louise has worked with a huge array of B2B and consumer brands. From major names such as the BBC, Lloyds Bank, Capita, Cap Gemini, Schwartz, 20th Century Fox and St Paul’s Cathedral through to exciting, ambitious start-ups and fast-growing SMEs – helping them use PR to drive and accelerate their growth.

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Adam is the co-founder and editor of www.eventindustrynews.com Adam, a technology evangelist also organises Event Tech Live, Europe’s only show dedicated to event technology and the Event Technology Awards. Both events take place in November, London.