MWC – Analysts, Journalists and (frantic) Activity
As a specialist technology PR agency with a long history representing companies at Mobile World Congress, the telecoms industry’s annual shindig in Barcelona, we are always being asked how the event should be best exploited from a communications perspective. It’s a good question – the investment in time and money required to exhibit at the event is considerable and you can’t afford to waste it.
It’s also a very complex question to deal with because of the number of variables involved – size of company, stage of development, sub-sector, target markets, technologies, resources, spokespeople available, potential news hooks etc. We base our advice on years of experience but we also look carefully at the available data and one of those pieces of data is what we commonly refer to as the ‘pre-reg’ media list that the GSMA provide to exhibitors.
When you look through that list, perhaps the first thing you notice is that we shouldn’t actually call it a media list because that title ignores a significant constituency within. If you arrange the companies listed in descending order, according to the number of people they have attending, you’ll quickly conclude that industry analysts dominate the top slots. The ‘power houses’ of telecoms industry analysis will have multiple analysts in attendance – Omdia (Informa) have 21, IDC and Analysys Mason each have 10, Enders and Counterpoint have 7, STL have 6 and Canalys have 5.
You might think all those analysts are going to be meeting with the major operators and equipment manufacturers and while that’s true, it isn’t all they are interested in. If you talk to any of them they’ll tell you they also want to find ‘the next big thing’ and transformative new technologies. There are definitely openings for smaller companies to get on their radar. Ignore that opportunity at your cost.
Journalists with (very) limited time
The second point of note is that, although there are a significant number of individual media titles listed, the number of journalists attending for each is relatively small. One is the most common number and even our good friends over at Light Reading only have three correspondents listed as attending. With more than 1600 exhibitors at the event (the last time I counted), you can imagine how busy they will be and, like the analysts, they will definitely want to be speaking to the ‘big guns’ in the sector. If, as a smaller company, you want their attention during the event, you’d better have a really compelling pitch and be prepared to be flexible.
It’s for that reason that we typically advise smaller companies to focus their media outreach on the weeks preceding MWC as well as after the event when the focus is still current. Journalists will have much more time, be more receptive and you stand a much greater chance of achieving the coverage you desire. If you really do have some interesting news, the last thing you want to do is to blow your chances by getting lost in the cacophony of the MWC at-show news cycle.
Pick your geography
One more thing to take note of is the country of origin of each of the attending journalists and analysts. The big three, and by some margin, are the United Kingdom, Spain and the United States. The strength of the Spanish contingent isn’t a surprise given the event’s location but the reality is there are relatively few globally influential, telecoms focussed, titles in the country. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be talking to Spanish media but be aware that most will be focussing either on consumer stories or the impact of the event itself, rather than the exhibitors, on the local environment.
In terms of telecoms media, the UK and the U.S. dominate and few would argue that it’s in those countries that the most influential media are based. Their reach, and their audience, tends to be global and so their time is in great demand. If you do secure their interest, time will be tight and you are very unlikely to get more than twenty minutes. Make sure you have your pitch well practiced.
Of course, you shouldn’t ignore the rest of the pie, particularly if you have a specific geographic focus – there may be a journalist working for a title in France, Germany or even Uzbekistan (a choice of three there) that could ‘shift the needle’ for you in your most important market.
See you all there
The Babel team will be on ground once again at MWC this year. We’re easy to identify; we’ll be the ones running between halls to staff the dozens of journalist and analyst briefings we’ve arranged for our clients and in the evening you’ll typically find us entertaining our friends in the journalist and analyst communities. It’s the relationships we build with them that enables us to deliver the results. We’re looking forward to seeing you all there and if you’d like to talk to us about support at MWC, or at any other time, let me know.