I read with great interest the article entitled "Public relations creativity" by Dolores Diez-Simson in your 14 May 1997 edition.
I was astounded by her statement of "vendors and resellers holding off, until the last minute, their commitment to participate", in the ATUG '97 Conference and Exhibition.
In fact, having 12 years of experience in the exhibition industry, I can assure you that very little booking of stands happens "just prior" to a major exhibition. Major exhibitions are planned and budgeted for as part of a company's annual integrated marketing communications program. ATUG '97 was no different.
Most of the exhibitors at this year's event had put their dollar investment on the table in September last year. We saw no "holding off". However, this year there was a concentration of exhibitor participation from the telecommunications industry, now that the event has less emphasis on data communications.
There will, however, always be a few late bookings for various reasons, mostly related to companies' own planning and organisation. One major call centre company, for example, took out space one month prior to ATUG '97.
With regard to PR activity supporting the event, our public relations consultancy worked with exhibitors as far back as mid-January to gather information for submission to monthly trade publications. Anyone in the public relations business knows that deadlines for editorial submission for April publication issues can be as far back as mid-February. Therefore, you need to do the bulk of your communications activities some two to three months out.
Companies exhibit for the purpose of demonstrating new products and services, generating sales leads and garnering brand awareness. While a lot of companies at ATUG '97 would have had a genuine interest in deregulation, I would like to stress that "the uncertain telecommunication deregulation scenario", which Ms Diez-Simson says held back commitment by vendors to participate, is totally unfounded.
Companies at ATUG '97 are commercial enterprises, out there to gain mindshare, market presence, impact and sales leads. The deregulation issue acts as an impetus for companies to be present at such forums, to explain what they will offer in a new competitive marketplace.
One major feature of our PR company's strategy this year was to publicise the sheer breadth of subjects covered during the ATUG conference. Of course, deregulation was a major component for discussion at this year's event but our strategy also was successful in publicising other issues.
These included call centres, electronic commerce, mobile communications, the Internet and intranets, broadband access and networks, multi-service networks, politics and telecommunications, small business, cabling, frame relay, billing solutions, as well as case studies and much, much more.
By the way, our PR company reports no "pressure" in being able to deliver information resulting from the consequences of last year's Networld+InterOp and the deregulation process. Our exhibitors have overwhelmingly congratulated us on the pre-show publicity.
Finally, the public voted with their feet. Over 15,000 visitors came to the exhibition this year, an increase of over 1000 on 1996.
We had twice as many companies exhibit than at Networld+InterOp in Sydney last year. Conference registrations were over 1250, which is the highest ever at an ATUG conference.
Peter Petherick is exhibition manager at Riddell Exhibition Promotions