Chances are, if you work in technology PR then Mobile World Congress planning is probably playing a big part in your life.
Every February, brands, industry analysts, bloggers and journalists from every corner of the globe descend on La Fira for four days of mobile announcements, product launches and demos. And, every year, the same debate arises – is MWC still relevant?
The journalist view
Not one to be backwards about coming forwards, Kernel Magazine founder Milo Yiannopoulos had this to say on Twitter:
“Executive editorial decision. CES, MWC, NokiaWorld all banned. Nothing of interest to humanity will ever come out of any of them.”
It’s true that Milo is not the only journalist with trade show fatigue. In the run up to MWC, Twitter will be swamped with journalists complaining about an inbox full of MWC invites, not all of which will be relevant to them.
That said, the MWC pre-registration list looks just as healthy as ever, with a mix of bloggers, national and trade media all signed up for another year in Barcelona.
The technology PR perspective
Tying PR activity around an event or trade show is a tried and tested technology PR tactic to gain maximum return on investment at an event. The challenge is driving interest to the stand and also providing a story to media who aren’t attending the event.
It can be hit and miss going up against the high volumes of press releases and interview pitches (there were nearly 700 press releases released around CES this year alone) that inevitably get sent in the run up to a trade show, not to mention the daily newsletters, tweets and news round ups that happen during MWC.
Our advice as technology PRs who have run MWC campaigns for a number of years is to tailor your pitch, hone in on your key media targets and prioritise meetings that have to happen at MWC for logistical or timing reasons.
For exhibitors at the show, MWC presents the opportunity to get influencers, customers, prospects and media all under the same roof for a limited time. MWC exhibitors can be everyone from major handset manufacturers to small tech start ups, but the exhibitor fee, time and effort spent at MWC is a lot less than arranging international press tours, customer visits and multiple trips during the year.
MWC – still alive and kicking?
Our money is on MWC doing very well for many more years to come. However, GSMA, the event organisers, face a significant challenge branding MWC as the definitive event in the annual mobile industry calendar.
In recent years we’ve seen the definition of ‘mobile’ evolve to mean much, much more than a portable phone.
Whereas in the past, the show was dominated by the major handset OEMs and network providers, the 2011 event saw a surge in other products that fall into the new, widening category of ‘mobile device’ which includes a booming tablet market, hand held game consoles and personal electronics devices which share a number of functions and features with mobile handsets.
All trade shows will need to adapt to stay relevant at a time when brands are hosting their own conferences and events than ever before, and turning to more personal, tailored launch events but MWC faces a bigger challenge than most as the mobile industry continues to evolve at lightning speed. It’s a technology PR challenge, but one we are meeting head on.