Covering the big event
NRF’s annual convention is called Retail’s BIG Show for a good reason: With nearly 35,000 attendees, it’s an enormous event. It’s also a significant source of revenue. Before, during and after the conference, online content is an important part of our marketing and communications strategy. Promoting the show is one of our biggest — and most collaborative — content initiatives.
Before the event:
Showcasing the depth and breadth of conference sessions — and the expertise of our speakers — is the main goal of pre-show content, which helps us drive awareness and attendee registration. Instead of the usual Q&As with individual speakers, I wanted take a different approach to promote the 2017 convention. I worked with our conferences team to interview more than a dozen speakers via email, working their responses into thematic articles with some help from freelance writers. We published 10 articles on topics including international growth, social responsibility, customer engagement, in-store innovation and digital marketing. A piece I wrote about women startup founders was especially popular on Medium.
During the event:
Over five days of event programming, I coordinated and edited submissions from three on-site writers. Additional staff contributors included social media and video producers, a copyeditor and a web producer. We published another 10 articles during the show, and one of the pieces I wrote has already been viewed more than 27,000 times. Over half of those views are coming from Facebook, where the link has been shared by thousands of readers.
After the event:
In past years, post-show content has taken a backseat to other priorities. With better planning in 2017, we’ve been continuing the conversation around the event with a more thoughtful approach. We’ve published 20 additional articles since returning to the office, and many of those pieces feature one of the 50+ videos from the show.
Increasing the amount of content published — 40 articles in 2017, up from 27 pieces in 2016 — paid off. The week of the conference, traffic to the news section on our website was up more than 50 percent over the year before. Engagement also increased: the average reader spent over a minute more on news articles, and the number of readers who visited additional pages increased 27 percent over 2016. On NRF’s Medium account, where we published several stories, readers endorsed our content on social media: 20-50 percent of readers shared each post.