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Why making show announcements is a terrible idea?

With Mobile World Congress (Barcelona) and Embedded World (Munich) coming up next week we’ve taken a quick and dirty analysis of the benefit or not of making announcements at a show.

  • Argument one – you make announcements at shows so customers come and see you.
  • Argument two – you make announcements at shows as the press are there and you can discuss it with them
  • Argument three – you don’t make announcements at shows as everyone else is doing the same and you’ll be drowned out.

I’ve always erred on the side of argument three.

Now, most of my life has been spent in PR rather than journalism. But, in the short spell that I was a hack, my brief was typically to get 5 or 6 stories, speak to a handful of others and get back to the office as soon as possible. This ultimately meant I went to the big companies that I knew would have something new and shiny; and 1-2 start-upsĀ (ones that had been doing something interesting in the run up to the show) that lets me find out more. And that was it. For me, the vast majority of companies got overlooked.

But was this just me? Or is this the usual pattern. Here we look at one tech company over the course of a year to see the effect. While it is only one company’s data (time prevents a more in depth look), the company is ADI, a significant chip maker who attends both MWC and Embedded World.

To remove the effect of wires, I’ve removed every item of coverage that mentions Business Wire or PR NewsWire, albeit I suspect there’s one put out on a German wire service in January (see first spike) which is a non announcement on what it will do at Embedded World that isn’t listed on the company’s website.

As announcements at MWC / Embedded world were on IoT, I’ve set both the coverage search terms and the announcements to be on this topic only. As you can see there is a correlation for announcements and coverage. The outliers are Jan (as mentioned), July (the initial news the company was to merge with Linear), October (the completed merger) and February – no spike for the MWC coverage.

The news was interesting, and (in my opinion) at any other time of the year should have generated as much coverage as other announcements. But didn’t.

While this is only one data point (5-10 more are needed and I recognise the limitations in a small dataset) this is at least some evidence that suggests that a show announcements is a waste of money.