This is a column I wish I didn't have to write. I'm in San Francisco for the Web 2.0 Expo, meeting companies that may have tools for startups and growing companies like yours. As a member of the press, my contact info is given out to companies so they can pitch me to meet. I blocked out a bunch of time and tried to guess which companies that would have useful or interesting products for me to share with you over the next few weeks.

I'm not naming names, but at least 2 companies I met today had not read this site, did not know I focus on tools for startups (hence the name Startup Toolbox) and didn't have stories prepared to help me figure out how a small growing company or a startup could use their product.

How can you be most effective when you have 30 minutes with a reporter at a trade show?

  • Read their column or publication first, or make sure your PR person has done this to brief you.
  • Have an on-topic pitch - try to estimate what their readers would like to know about or how they would find value in your product or service. Of course, be flexible and have several scenarios and stories about how people use your product or service.
  • Come with your business card, your bio, product shots or a laptop demo.
  • Bonus points if you have emailed this to the reporter or given it to him or her on a USB memory stick (like one company today did.) They should also be on your website (and they may help customers to find you).
  • Have example clients who are using your product or service and who are willing to talk about their experience with the reporter. Have their contact information readily available.
  • Overdeliver. (I gave you 6 tips.)

I don't want to be perceived as lecturing too much about this. But I think that if your company has spent money on a PR person, flown to a trade show, taken a booth and taken the time to contact a reporter to try to get promotion, they should be able to maximize that opportunity.

I would value your additional thoughts in the comments.