One number comes in handy when trying to understand the work of the Messe’s in-house Communication Department: 4,500. That is the number of journalists and bloggers who attended events at Messe Friedrichshafen last year. That means 4,500 different individuals – from many different cultural backgrounds, different ways of working, and different information needs. Each of these 4,500 people was at the Accreditation Counter on one of the 66 trade fair days, and was welcomed with a sincere smile.
“Meeting the representatives of all media categories in person and being able to support them individually with their work is one of the key aspects of successful press relations for us,” explains Wolfgang Köhle, Head of the Communication Department and the Messe Friedrichshafen press spokesman. In concrete terms this means that someone is always available to answer both organisational and substantive questions. When is the first press conference? Which exhibitors have the most exciting new products? Where is the industry talk taking place? The Communication Department has an overview – and it is not only the journalists but also the exhibitors who benefit from that.
“A trade fair is the ideal opportunity for a company to draw media focus and attract attention,” Wolfgang Köhle says. However, this concept can only be put into practice with the corresponding experience and the necessary background knowledge. “Our team can assess what is really new for the media representatives, and how not only products but entire industries can be best presented.” This advisory service is an important added value – and it’s included in the price when exhibitors book their stand space at the Messe. As the press spokesman says: “Our work is often also about raising awareness and persuasion – when it comes to new media, for example – particularly with smaller companies.” The Communication team may explain, for instance, the difference between the work of bloggers and that of journalists, and how traditional companies can benefit from these modern-day multipliers. “We have an overview of the digital media with blogger bases or live streams of press conferences – but we don’t neglect classic editors.”
All producers of text, film or radio articles have one thing in common: in order to work efficiently, they need the right framework conditions. At Friedrichshafen, they have two modern press centres and the Press Garden at their disposal. Apart from standard features such as fast internet connections with which very large volumes of data can be transmitted quickly, the Messe also offers a whole range of services that goes well beyond the usual standard. For example, at major trade fairs, professional camera teams produce both raw material and broadcast-ready features which can then be made available to radio and TV stations. Detailed background reports are written by specialist journalists focused on the given trade fair area. Alongside that, it’s the little details that make Messe Friedrichshafen such as special workplace for media representatives. Free catering, for example, or “a case where one of our Building Services staff turned up with a glue gun when an Italian journalist broke one of her high heels,” Wolfgang Köhle recalls.
So there’s still the question of what the team around the Head of Communication actually does outside trade fair times. “We’re on holiday, of course!” Wolfgang Köhle says, laughing – and goes straight on to explain timeframes: communication planning for a trade fair starts at least nine months in advance, or even goes on all year round for some. Communication covers press information, newsletters, video productions, posts on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn – details of what is to be published when is planned down to the day and then input into a clearly set-out and continuously updated online tool. There are regular liaison meetings between the project teams on the respective trade fairs and the Communication Department – and measures taken are constantly reviewed as well. “The 20 websites of the respective trade fairs are at the heart of communication. They are created in conjunction with an online marketing agency and are updated in-house. This is where all measures are coordinated”, Wolfgang Köhle explains. “Based on the analysis of website and social media traffic or from the open rate for newsletters, we can then tease out recommended actions for the teams.” This gives rise to target group-relevant background reports, up-to-date news reports or amusing video clips – thus creating further valuable contact with the 4,500 media representatives who are connected with Messe Friedrichshafen.