Steve Winter discusses how to handle live conferences @ CES 2022 - Show Notes

Steve Winter discusses how to handle live conferences @ CES 2022

Tuesday Feb 15, 2022 (00:14:14)


The last two years have created a lot of new scenarios for the world. Particularly, the business world has had to adapt to a lot of adjusted scenarios. Much work has begun to be from home, rather than in offices. This forced IT to change the way they think of their corporate networks to allow for greater variability, while also protecting data. But, the biggest part of industries to be affected by the altered way of thinking has been events, like CES. Our good friend Steve Winter from Brotman-Winter-Fried discusses some of the changes and how to deal with them.

Virtual versus physical events

The general consensus for businesses has been that virtual events are incredibly difficult and less productive. Even though the overall expense of setting up a virtual exhibit versus a physical one is significantly less expensive, the number of people you interact with is lessened. If you look at it from a pure numbers game, the more people you talk to, the more likely you are to interact with someone who might want to do business with your company or even invest in the product offering. With fewer people, there are fewer chances and therefore fewer successes.

However, currently, physical events are not as well attended as in the past. For example, Steve Winter refers to the number 40% for CES 2022. Everything felt like it was at 40% of capacity - the number of exhibitors, the number of attendees, and even the number of media. Some of this is because of personal fears or legitimate medical situations. PArt of our team was forced to stay remote for CES 2022 because of medical situations. Others were prohibited from travel because of international restrictions. We spoke with companies ahead of CES that said they were having to drop out because, even if they could get into the US, they might not be able to go home.

How to address the issues

One of the hardest but most direct is to tough it out. Being in attendance in person is simply the best option. The accidental interactions you have with people on the show floor of an event like CES are unable to be replicated by a virtual venue. Many of the long-term partners we have, such as BenjiLock and Monster Illuminessence, were born out of chance encounters while wandering the show floor with no real intentions. With virtual events, it really comes down to curation and having a very strong plan, which completely eliminates the chance encounter.

The second great option is to have a strong PR partner, such as Brotman-Winter-Fried. They can help pick up some of the slack for those who can not attend in person, and enhance the opportunity for great conversations. They can also set up some planned conversations through their existing network of connections. In the past few years, some of our best guests have come to us through some of the big names in the CES PR space - namely Steve and his partners.


To learn more about Brotman-Winter-Fried or to contact Steve Winter, head to the company's website.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central.

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Scott Ertz

Episode Author

Scott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLUGHITZ Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the rhythm game community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and helping with ROBOTICON Tampa Bay. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors, currently housed at AMRoC Fab Lab.


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Erin Hurst (00:07)

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Todd Cochrane (00:28)

Steve, how are you? How have you been?

Steve Winter (00:29)

I'm doing great.

Todd Cochrane (00:30)


Steve Winter (00:31)

Yep. All things considered.

Todd Cochrane (00:33)

You know, I've kind of just been off the top. What's your take on the show?

Steve Winter (00:38)

Yeah. Do you want to? Do you want to save that for the interview that we want to talk about? Just asked me off?

Todd Cochrane (00:44)

I just asked off the cuff.

Steve Winter (00:46)

Well. I'm gonna use this number, 40%. Everything is 40%. Plus or minus.

Todd Cochrane (00:53)

Yeah, I think you're about right.

Steve Winter (00:54)

You know.

Todd Cochrane (00:54)

People wise, we're definitely way lower than 40%. But vendor wise. 40%? I think that's about right.

Steve Winter (01:00)

Yeah. And what you know, what's really interesting is, you know, with all the news of the big companies that have pulled out. The smaller ones can't afford to pull out.

Todd Cochrane (01:07)

That's right.

Steve Winter (01:08)

You know, I mean, they invest so much time and money in this.

Todd Cochrane (01:11)

I was just saying there's more foreign companies here than there are American companies.

Steve Winter (01:15)

Are there really?

Todd Cochrane (01:16)

Well, at least downstairs.

Steve Winter (01:17)


Todd Cochrane (01:18)

You know, so kind of blew me away on that part. But anyway, we can talk about that more later.

Steve Winter (01:22)


Todd Cochrane (01:22)

So what are you here to talk about today?

Steve Winter (01:24)

Well, I thought we would talk about doing PR in a COVID situation environment.

Todd Cochrane (01:29)

Sure. Sure.

Steve Winter (01:29)

Like what, we've been, this is our 20th year.

Todd Cochrane (01:32)


Steve Winter (01:32)

So I've seen it all.

Todd Cochrane (01:33)


Steve Winter (01:34)

And I thought maybe we would, you know, talk about just what you asked me.

Todd Cochrane (01:38)


Steve Winter (01:38)

What are the differences?

Todd Cochrane (01:39)


Steve Winter (01:39)

Is it still effective? Is it still good for people to be here?

Todd Cochrane (01:42)

You know, here's the thing. And he and I were just talking about this before he came on the mic. We've known you for years. And we love working with your guests and you bring them up, you always bring us quality products. But for a period of time, the PR folks almost acted like we were doing them a favor. And it wasn't this good cohesive relationship. It didn't feel good. It felt like we were giving more than we are getting

Steve Winter (02:09)


Todd Cochrane (02:10)

And this year, it's almost like there's been a reset.

Steve Winter (02:15)

Oh. It's interesting.

Todd Cochrane (02:16)

It feels like it's a reset, because the PR people are and not that, you know, there's you know, your job is to protect your client, get your client exposure, get them, keep them moving, right. My job is to get as much information as I can and maybe build a relationship with them down the road.

Steve Winter (02:32)


Todd Cochrane (02:32)

And for this year, though, I don't think there's a lot of PR reps here. Maybe I'm wrong. But what is, you know your industry, what do you feel? Do you feel that there's lower numbers of PR people?

Steve Winter (02:46)

There's definitely lower numbers. A lot more of the publicists are doing this virtually. But you know, when you walk around PEP Com, Ces Unveiled and Showstoppers. You know, they've all got somebody out there. All the exhibitors have somebody out there hawking their wares.

Todd Cochrane (03:00)


Steve Winter (03:00)

And trying to drag the journalists into their booth. We're no different.

Todd Cochrane (03:03)


Steve Winter (03:04)

But yeah, the numbers are not. The numbers are what they are. They're really way down.

Todd Cochrane (03:07)


Steve Winter (03:08)

The same holds true for publicists.

Todd Cochrane (03:10)

Yeah. I am glad that CEA did continue to hold the show. I don't think they could afford not to, number one. But I know that the press has been busting on them a bit. But this could have went away, or this could have been canceled.

Steve Winter (03:26)

Yeah. Well, I think. We were chatting about this before we came on the air. I think, you know, it's a matter of a lot of the smaller companies. And I don't just mean startups. I mean, the mid range companies can't afford not to be here.

Todd Cochrane (03:38)

I know.

Steve Winter (03:39)

Look, if Hisense, Sony, Toyota. If they want to make an announcement, you know, they can do it.

Todd Cochrane (03:45)

That's right.

Steve Winter (03:46)

Without CES.

Todd Cochrane (03:47)

That's right. They have their own PR machine. They got you know, yes.

Steve Winter (03:50)

But also they have to take into account more than other firms, the optics of them being here. Are they doing the right thing by their people, their customers, their?

Todd Cochrane (03:58)


Steve Winter (03:58)

To smaller companies, you know, invest a lot of money, not just in their booth and their booth infrastructure, but what they expect to get out of this. So, you know, again, they can't afford not to be here. So for them, it's important to, you know.

Todd Cochrane (04:12)

The story I always say is the first year I came to CES and had a camera. I walked into the very new company called GoPro. Wasn't a big booth. This is the very early beginnings of them, walked in, did an interview. They weren't necessarily maxing the credit card out, but they were new to the show. They didn't get a lot of exposure that first year. And I made a lifetime relationship with a GoPro team just by doing that interview. In the same token, walking down aisles and there's a guy there with a 10 by 10. He's maxed out his credit card. He brought prototypes to the show. He's trying to get a sale. And those shows, those companies now have grown into 100 by 100 100 booths. You know, but they started out in 10 by 10s. And, like here in Vegas, they rolled the dice to be here and make connections. So for me, it's exciting to see the small booths, and see those folks that are here with their brand new product they're trying to get on the market. I think that's what really CES to me is all about. It's fun to go in and see Samsung and Sony and all those folks, but you know, you're hurdled like a cat to those booths. And you know, you're handled, and in the small booths, in the small vendors. It may not be a 10 by 10, maybe they're 20 by 20. They spent a butt ton of money to be here.

Steve Winter (05:39)

Oh, yeah. Yeah. And the exhibitors you're talking about, as the startups, you know. Usually they begin in Eureka Park.

Todd Cochrane (05:46)


Steve Winter (05:47)

Where they have to pay $1,000. Only have to pay $1,000 for their booth. $2,600 If they want power. And, you know, that's a great startup opportunity for them. As a publicist, especially as a publicist that manages some of these companies. It's really rewarding, as you say, to see these companies go from a Eureka Park startup to a 10 by 20 or 20 by 30 company.

Todd Cochrane (05:52)

Yeah. Right.

Steve Winter (06:07)

You know, I'm talking about the booths start up servers.

Todd Cochrane (06:09)

Yeah. And it's. We always love, I call it gracing. You know, going to Eureka Park, and just walk by each booth and seeing that product is like, wow, what have you got, let me talk to you. By tier where a lot of these companies fail. Signage. Signage. Signage. Signage. You know, if you're a publicist, please work with these companies on signage. Because if I don't know, in three seconds, what they're doing or what they have, I may miss them, you know.

Steve Winter (06:44)


Todd Cochrane (06:44)

Because we're walking by and someone grabbed me and said, Can you look what I'm like? What do you guys do? And once they explain, oh, that's cool. But I would have never, because that, you know, you're looking at literally 1,000 vendors. And if they can't catch you, make sure you tell your company's signage, signage, signage, signage, even if it's just like, "We do this."

Steve Winter (07:06)


Todd Cochrane (07:06)

Don't care about the company name. We do this, then, you know, that's what I wanted. Cuz Chris. You and I were talking about it too, right? Same thing we.

Christopher Jordan (07:14)

Yeah. Yeah. It's kind of that concept of, Sure, McDonald's is a brand but you know what the sign means.

Steve Winter (07:22)

And, you.

Christopher Jordan (07:22)

You know what the symbol means.

Steve Winter (07:25)

Yeah. And that's kind of the same advice we give to our corporate clients, speaking sound bites. You know, a reporter is not going to listen to a 20 minute conversation about the engineering of their product. They want to know real quickly. What is it and what does it do?

Todd Cochrane (07:42)

That's right.

Steve Winter (07:43)

Same thing with signage. You know, there are companies here, you're 100% right. There are companies here, you'll walk by, I'm looking at Lumi down there, and I don't know what they do. You know, if there's a two or three word or five word kicker or theme line kicker. You might stop and look at it or otherwise, you're gonna walk around.

Todd Cochrane (07:51)

No idea.

Steve Winter (07:52)


Todd Cochrane (07:52)

Right. Or just keep on walking. You know, it's something at least to tell me. This is, you know, cuz I look in the booth. I'm like, Okay, keep going. I don't have time to stop.

Christopher Jordan (08:09)

Yeah. And that's just it, you're walking down the aisle is like 200 booths. You got to know before you get to it.

Todd Cochrane (08:18)

No. I-

Christopher Jordan (08:19)

You got to be able to see ahead of time what it's about.

Todd Cochrane (08:21)

I caught the half step. I walk the booths in a half step. And I do this, you know. And you can see that, you know, they see that they see the media badge, they want to grab me and pull you in. But they don't want to and because it's. Yeah, so. So what's it been like operating with? I know that your business died for a whole year at least. Right?

Steve Winter (08:45)

Yeah. We were fortunate that we were able to bring in a few clients to handle, to work CES virtually last year. And, you know, it was certainly a challenge. But we also learned a ton. And what we learned is what the rest of the industry learned is that you can operate in something of a hybrid capacity. Now, for a tradeshow is that ideal? Absolutely not. Is it nice to have that extra element that you can bank on and work with? Yes, that's good. But CES won't be as efficient as it should be. Until we get back to fully normal.

Todd Cochrane (09:18)

Yeah, I made a PR person mad. They sent me an email and they said, I'm only interviewing people in person. I said, if I have, if I'm going to be here, you can be here. And woo didn't really go over so good. But

Steve Winter (09:30)

Yeah. Don't like the optics of that one.

Todd Cochrane (09:31)

No. But it's for me. It's virtual. I've done virtual as an actual company on my regular business.

Steve Winter (09:40)


Todd Cochrane (09:41)

And it was very, very tough. It's very, very tough to get good traction, get, you know, good people to talk to you, especially when doing B2C. Not necessarily B2B maybe easier. But B2C, it was really really tough.

Steve Winter (09:55)

But you know, there is one benefit to doing things virtually that is different from the live event. And that is the opportunity to have that one on one conversation. When you go into a networking room, you know, you might meet a folk, you know, a few folks here and there.

Todd Cochrane (10:11)


Steve Winter (10:11)

You know, be able to interact. But when you are able to schedule a meeting, even if it's a 10 minute meeting, you've got that one on one time with that individual.

Todd Cochrane (10:19)


Steve Winter (10:19)

As journalists, we love that.

Todd Cochrane (10:21)


Steve Winter (10:21)

And as a publicist, it's really, you know, it's really a positive.

Todd Cochrane (10:25)

Yeah, and in another thing, too, is for any publicists that are listening to this. Going off site is challenging. You know, so we're over at the Wynn. We're such, I'm like, like, Okay, send me a car, pick me up in front of the Venetian. Take me to the Wynn, we'll have the car wait, I'll run up and do the interview, and then have the car bring me back to the Venetian and they're like, oh, no, no, we're not gonna do that. I'm like, I don't have two hours. To get an Uber. Get over there. Try to find the suite, you know. So, yeah, if you're going to be doing suites, make sure you have a plan to get people in and out.

Steve Winter (11:01)

Well, you know, it's funny that you mentioned Todd, because, and it's gonna sound like I'm tooting my own horn as a PR guy, which I am. We do that.

Todd Cochrane (11:10)

That's smart.

Steve Winter (11:11)

But what we do is my business partner, Kenny, we rent a van. And if somebody from the Las Vegas Convention Center is doing your show, we're picking them up right outside the convention center, driving them here, somebody is going to meet that person right down there, run them right up, do the interview, and we take them back.

Todd Cochrane (11:30)

So that way, they're not out of the booth for three hours.

Steve Winter (11:33)


Todd Cochrane (11:34)

Right. So it works two ways.

Steve Winter (11:35)

Yeah. And that's the thing we've learned over the years.

Todd Cochrane (11:38)


Steve Winter (11:38)

It's just that's just how it was.

Christopher Jordan (11:40)

Like I said with that hospitality suite. Last night, we walked then walk then walk and one hotel as soon as to the other hotel, back to the other hotel as soon as back. And finally the security guy was like, Yeah, I'm sorry, I can't let you up there. You don't have a key. And I'm like, I'm with the media. I'm here to go to a hospitality suite. Yeah, but yeah, I can't let you up there. I spent an hour and a half walking around tried to get this thing.

Steve Winter (12:07)

Yeah, this is so resonating.

Todd Cochrane (12:09)

Let's try Scott.

Steve Winter (12:10)

Last trade show I was at. I thought I was going to a meeting in the suite at the Encore. Guess what. It was in the Wynn.

Todd Cochrane (12:17)

Yeah. So that makes it tough.

Steve Winter (12:18)

Yeah, exactly.

Todd Cochrane (12:19)

Well, Scott, anything else before you bounce out here with us?

Steve Winter (12:24)

Oh, I'm sorry. It's me. No, no, I think this is great. I really appreciate it. I always love chatting with you. I love that you talk to a lot of them.

Todd Cochrane (12:33)

I'm sorry. called you, Scott.

Steve Winter (12:34)

That's Ok. No worries. Yeah, I was looking around and you know, Is Scott here? You know, I, I think that I love chatting with you because I think it gives you a break a little bit of a break, talking about the you know, the different companies and their products. This is a different perspective. You know, Todd, I love CES. As I said, I've been coming here for two decades. I really enjoy the energy and it's great building relationships.

Todd Cochrane (12:56)


Steve Winter (12:56)

You know, with guys like you and Kurt and Chris and Scott Ertz. And you know, that's what it's all about.

Todd Cochrane (13:00)

So why don't you give, might you know, there's something like there's companies that watch this too. So why don't you give a plug here for your company?

Steve Winter (13:05)

Sure. Brotman-Winter-Fried Communications. We're a sports entertainment marketing, you know, fun oriented technology PR firm. We have a specific website for our tech clients. It's BWF, Brotman Winter Fried,

Todd Cochrane (13:22)


Steve Winter (13:23)

We do all sorts of publicity and promotion. Not just the trade shows, but all year round.

Todd Cochrane (13:28)


Steve Winter (13:28)

Thank you for the opportunity.

Todd Cochrane (13:30)

Thanks for being on. I appreciate it.

Steve Winter (13:31)

Always great hanging with you.

Todd Cochrane (13:33)


Steve Winter (13:33)

Thank you so much.

Todd Cochrane (13:34)

Take care.

Erin Hurst (13:37)

TPN CES 2022 coverage is executive produced by Michele Mendez. Technical Directors are Kurt Corless and Adam Barker. Associate producers are Nancy Ertz and Maurice McCoy. Interviews are edited by Jo Mini. Hosts are Marlo Anderson, Todd Cochrane, Scott Ertz, Christopher Jordan, Daniele Mendez, and Allante Sparks. Las Vegas studio provided by HC Productions. Remote studio provided by PLUGHITZ Productions. This has been Tech Podcasts Network Production, copyright 2022.

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