Journalism at Trade Fairs: A Summary

Subject: Journalism at Trade Fairs: A Summary
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: techwr-l digest recipients <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 05 Jun 2000 10:25:47 -0700

Here's a summary of the responses I had about how a journalist
should cover trade shows:

1. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes.

2. Bring: lots of business cards, extra floppies, microcassettes
and batteries for laptops and recorders.

3 Test the net connection in your hotel room as soon as you check
in. Easier to get it fixed or get another room if you haven't
unpacked yet.

4. Before you leave, call the companies you want to meet with,
products you want to cover, and arrange meetings with them away
from the trade floor. There is almost always a nice, quiet demo
room or press room to use.

5. When you return, call (or email) the folks you talked to and
let them know if you WILL have a feature or review on their
product. (Lots of times you see too much, and many products look
good but aren't what your audience needs to know about. If you
do find something you will use, work that personal connection.)

6. Talk to the speakers/presenters at the sessions if they have
something your readers will want to know about.

7. Go to the silly events (pub crawls, etc.). Makes another
point of contact, and hey -- you could get a feature out of it.

8. In the evening, outline what you did that day. Nothing major,
just brief notes. They're very helpful when you actually start

9. Many of the most interesting events are invitation only. Make
friends with the senior people at booths and wrangle some of
those invitations.

Special thanks to Stephen Arrants and John Posada for their long
and detailed answers. I look forward to taking their advice!

And, to answer a question that a couple of people asked: computer
journalism isn't that different from tech-writing in many ways.
Both involve asking questions and fiddling around with software
and hardware. The main difference is in the result. Journalism
has room for personality and style, and you're not anonymous.
After several years of focusing on tech-writing, that lack of
anonymity is a little frightening, although, so far, with my
first column a week on the stands, people have been very

Bruce Byfield, Outlaw Communications
Contributing Editor, Maximum Linux
bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com | Tel: 604.421.7189

"And now my burden, it gives me pain,
For my long-lost Franklin, I would cross the main,
Ten thousand pounds I would freely give
To say that on earth my Franklin do live."
- Traditional, "Lady Franklin's Dream"

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