consumer marketing


In addition to the great coverage of Peek on NY1 News (see post below), here’s more editorial coverage of our exhibitors appearing in the New York Times (V-Moda), Gizmodo and Scifi.com (Halo) CrunchGear (Altec Lansing), SciFi.com (3G Bikes), LadiesHomeJournal.com (CircleUp), (Seagate) and (V-Moda).

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Peek captured the attention of New York television station NY1 last week. Check out the online and video coverage of our debut event.

http://www.ny1.com/ny1/content/index.jsp?stid=101&aid=69501

Make sure to click on the video link to see the footage.

UPDATE

The same video report also ran in Austin, Texas

http://www.news8austin.com/content/headlines/?ArID=183905&SecID=2

Three months ago, Peek didn’t exist. It was merely an idea built on the successes of my first press event, Food Fete, which launched in 2005. I figured it worked with gourmet food, so why not with lifestyle products? And while that approach may seem simplistic, it was truly the seed for getting Peek off the ground — and one of the entrepreneurial advantages of being able to just make things happen.

Trying to pull this off inside a big company would have taken months of mind-numbing meetings, piles of planning documents and justification, and endless hand-wringing over “will it work?”

I don’t have time for that.

Our first Peek press event is next Wednesday in New York City, and I’m extremely pleased with our accomplishments. For something that didn’t exist three months ago, Peek managed to attract an impressive — albeit small — roster of exhibitors, including well-known brands like Symantec, Plantronics, Altec Lansing, OfficeMax, Seagate, Skype, Helio and Microplane. We’ll also be featuring products from some lesser-known and start-up brands like Castor & Pollux Pet Works, ROHTO, Meebo, 3G Bikes, CircleUp, Halo Technologies and V-Moda.

On the media side, we have 80 consumer lifestyle journalists planning to attend a brand new event they fundamentally know very little about. Among them are TIME, Newsweek, BusinessWeek, Forbes, Cookie, Consumer Reports, Esquire, Family Circle, Every Day With Rachael Ray, InStyle, Ladies Home Journal, Martha Stewart Living, Men’s Fitness, Metropolitan Home, More, Penthouse, SELF and Woman’s Day, just to name a few. I’m glad to see we’re creating something of interest to them too.

I also want to give a special thanks to the above named exhibitors and their PR firms who joined me in taking what I’ve described as a leap of faith to make Peek a reality. Sure, I got a lot of “Well, we’re just hesitant to sign on to an new, unproven event,” or “We’ll consider it next year when you have one or two under your belt.” That’s all very understandable, particularly from PR agencies that put their necks on the line to recommend something unproven to their client. I get that. I’ve been in their shoes.

For me, however, it’s the unknown of what will transpire next Wednesday that makes what I do very exciting. In a world where being “in control” is the corporate equivalent of pure gold, the anticipation (combined with some nervousness) of the unknown is the most thrilling part.

Things like…Will the media show up? We’ve done everything short of sending a car to their offices to help ensure that. (Trust me, I thought about how to pull that off, but still working on it). Will the exhibitors get the editorial exposure they hope for? That’s driven by how well they tell their stories and if the editors find their products interesting.

The good news is that the companies we’re working with have the insight to understand that reward doesn’t come without some risk — particularly in the PR business and working with the media. I don’t care how well-orchestrated, well-crafted your PR programs are, on some level there’s always an element of simply crossing your fingers and hoping it all comes together.

Good or bad, I’ll provide a post-mortem on Peek next week. I’m taking a couple of extra fun days in New York City after Peek concludes on Wednesday, which I’ll probably spend re-playing in my head all of the things I could have done differently and will do better next time.

Once again, one of the “advantages” of running your own business.

Wish us luck!

Marketing guru Seth Godin writes today about risk-taking in marketing. Most notably, he says, “Brand pioneers and early adopters are proud of their stance. It makes us feel good to share war stories. Be proud of your risk takers and they’ll return the favor.”

In producing a new press event like Peek, there’s certainly a degree of risk– risk among prospective exhibitors that Peek is a right fit; risk that the right media will show and like what they see (and write about it); and risk that the media will even show up at all!

I’ve used the phrase “leap of faith” more than once in convincing brands and their PR agencies to come onboard, realizing it’s human nature to want everything wrapped up neatly in a perfect little package with no room for error and no surprises.

And as I experienced with my other Food Fete press event, exhibitors at the first event in 2005 took a leap of faith that it would pay off for them. Judging by the number of repeat exhibitors we’ve enjoyed, their leap must have paid off, which means surprises can sometimes be good.

I admit, some of the uncertainty keeps me up at night, because a lot is at stake for me and the companies that put their faith in me. But when I look at the “risk versus reward” equation, I honestly believe it’s worth it. Because despite the fact of how most people love to control every aspect of their work and personal lives, deep down it’s that little piece of the unknown that keeps things exciting.

And as Seth alluded to, the real reward is surviving the risk to play the game another day.

I love what I do.

I get an early peek at new products, and play a small part in the process of spreading the word to the world about them.

Being among the first to see what’s in development or about to reach the market is part of what I enjoyed about representing technology start-ups back when I had my own PR agency in the dot-com days. I suppose it feeds one’s innate desire to know something the rest of the world doesn’t know yet that keeps us coming back for more.

While most of the products I’ve been around in recent years are much more consumer-focused than years ago, it’s still the innovation behind the way a company solves a specific problem; turns possibilities into reality; or seeing the end result of a designer’s creative vision that gets my attention.

It’s the “why didn’t I think of that” response that I find the most addictive, which perhaps secretly drives me to actually hope I can be “the one to think of it” some day.

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One of the more common questions I get about Peek (and my other Food Fete press event) is whether we can guarantee media attendance. Boy, how I wish! Among all the elements that must come together for an event like Peek (most of which can be controlled), the one thing I CAN promise is that some of the editors on the RSVP list won’t make it.

Guaranteed.

Did you ever RSVP for a party or social event having every intention of attending, and then for whatever reason, didn’t go? Of course you have. We all have. The same thing applies to journalists who plan on attending press events.

Something will invariably come up — sickness, shifting deadlines, having a bad day at the office, or just being too tired — that can lead to no-shows. We’re clearly disappointed when it happens, but don’t take it personally. So why draw attention to an issue that event planners usually wish to avoid? It’s about setting expectations.

Despite doing everything right, events have inherent intangibles that can throw things off plan. We know it, and make sure that our participants know it. We do confirm, remind and re-confirm media RSVPs up until the morning of the event, but despite those efforts, some simply won’t show.

Fortunately, a vast majority of the PR agencies and their clients we work with get it.The flipside is that some media will show up at the door who did not RSVP, often creating an unexpected, but pleasant, surprise.

While we always encourage advance RSVPs (it helps with the media vetting process and other logistical planning like food & beverage), we’re glad to register qualified media on-site who did not let us know in advance.It’s part of what keeps things interesting.

The early response to peek has been very positive. After launching a preliminary e-mail marketing campaign last week, I’ve heard back from a good number of agencies and media expressing interest and wanting to know more.

Like bringing a new product to market, waiting for the initial feedback when introducing a new event creates some anxiety in terms of how well it will be received.

While there’s still a lot to do, I’m less anxious than I was a week ago.

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