CES: In the End, The Show Went On

The show that garnered so much international attention and pressure to cancel has officially wrapped. With 170,000 attendees in 2020 (the last time it was in-person), CES felt very different this year. But anyone who still planned on attending back in December knew that would be the case. In fact, the CTA confirmed on Friday that roughly 40,000 (a quarter of 2020’s attendees) attended in-person this year, including about 1,800 members of the press.

I was there with our client MeetKai who exhibited at CES’ annual Pepcom Digital Experience – a press event that takes place the night before CES officially kicks off. During Pepcom, almost every journalist I met commented on how quiet Vegas felt. They weren’t wrong – in previous years when the doors of Pepcom opened, a sea of journalists would push through the doors. This year, it was more like a wave.

 That being said, there was a steady run of journalists walking around the conference center in The Mirage Hotel to get a first look at what CES had in store. Whilst there were many regulars missing (many consumer tech and biz writers canceled due to Omicron and instead participated virtually), it certainly didn’t feel quiet. 

Photo by Christine Reilly

Our client James Kaplan, CEO & Co-Founder at MeetKai, was in back-to-back press interviews for most of the event, and our teams supporting other Clarity clients on site echoed this sentiment. In fact, one positive of a quieter CES was that James was able to have longer, arguably more in depth conversations with the journalists who did attend simply because there were fewer of them in the room. 

In the end, we met with 27 reporters and we’ve been seeing the impact of that ever since, as have our clients across the board. One by one these reporters publish their CES wrap ups weaving in the brands they met with or, even better, their standalone stories on clients’ news.

Photo by Christine Reilly

Whether we would’ve garnered some of these key journalists’ attention if we didn’t see them face-to-face at Pepcom is impossible to know, but I’m thrilled that after MeetKai made the tough decision to continue exhibiting in-person, as we’re feeling the results.

So the big question for brands like MeetKai now is… what do you do next to ensure your story continues to be heard now that the show is over? Here’s our team of consumer tech experts top tips on how to continue to make meaningful noise after the show physically wraps: 

  • Timely, respectful and personalized press follow ups: CES is exhausting (ok, not as exhausting as previous years but still!), so don’t bombard your press targets with pitch after pitch. Instead, give them a breather and follow up in a week or so with a fresh angle that ties your company’s news to how they’ve been covering the news that’s come out of CES
  • Post show briefings & commentary: Journalists are always crazed during the show. If you were pitching for briefings before and during the show, then you certainly should do the same after as many media will continue writing about the show for weeks to come from an analysis perspective. Pitch briefings that tie your news to what came out of the show. For example, the metaverse was a huge topic at the show, even more so than we expected. Can your company share its unique analysis on the subject whilst tying it to your own story? Which leads us to our next tip… 
  • Get creative: Consider how the broader tech trends that come out of CES may impact the stories you tell throughout the course of the year. CES isn’t just a place to tell YOUR story, it’s a place to learn about other compelling stories around us. Think about how the trends from the show can impact the stories you can share with press – and ultimately your audience – long term and factor that into your 2022 planning now.

If you’re interested in learning more, then say hello @ [email protected]!

Cover photo by Matthias Mullie via Unsplash

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