By Louise Findlay-Wilson, Creator of PrPro and owner of Energy PR

If an exhibition is an important one, the media will be aware of it. They will be writing about it on their news pages some months ahead of time, they will carry a major preview just before the event happens and they review it afterwards. They will also send their journalists to the show, indeed, some key media may have stands at the show.

There are lots and lots of PR opportunities in all of this — yet most small businesses don’t even prepare a press release to put in the press office at the show!

If you are exhibiting anywhere over the coming year please don’t let this be you! Follow these 5 golden rules:

Think ahead

Don't wait till the last minute to think about what you're focusing on and promoting at the show. If you do you will miss all the show previews that the PR agency promoting the event will have lined up. These are PR opportunities on a plate for you. USE them!

Work with the Agency

Contact the show's PR agency the minute you book your stand. Ask what previews they have lined up, what media they are working with, their deadlines and so forth. Then get newsworthy information and pictures to them. They won't want a dull profile of your business, or your sales fliers or brochures. They need product or service news. What are you launching or unveiling at the show?

Be Imaginative

Don't have news? Create it! Use your presence at the show to launch a new service, or have a special feature on your stand. If your experts are there on a certain day, could they provide an advice clinic? Could you have an interactive test on your stand?

Still Struggling for ideas? Here are some more:

- Offer a free business healthcheck

- Provide some training

- Have a relevant well-known expert on your stand at certain times

- Offer a gift or product for first 50 people who attend

- Host a roundtable or seminar at the event

- Offer makeovers/expert guides

- Host a book signing by a relevant author

- Have an unusual product demonstration

- Launch some major research findings

- Give away something different but meaningful — if your message is about being green, give away actual saplings or a certificate for a share of woodland

- Have a relevant ‘at show’ challenge

- Give away branded samples that look more valuable than they are

Use Your Initiative

While you should obviously work with the show's PR team don't leave it all to them, they have a lot of exhibitors to look after. Have some initiative, pick up the phone to editors, ask if they are covering the show, outline your news and innovations. That will ensure you are on their radar.

Use the Show

Use your presence at the show as an opportunity to get face to face with your key media. They won't have time to stop for hours on your stand, and you won’t have that much time to spend with them - after all you're trying to sell at the show. However do suggest you catch up over a coffee - you may well secure some other PR opportunities for down the line.

If you follow these simple steps — and you will really ‘stand out from the crowd.’

Follow Louise on Twitter @louisefw

If you are looking for a PR agency or want to do your own PR, contact Louise Findlay-Wilson on 01993 823011 or one of her businesses. For training and tools so you can DIY PR visit www.prpro.co.uk If you are looking for a PR agency visit www.EnergyPR.co.uk