How should a B2B editor cover a trade show?

Trade shows can be a chance to step out of the office and immerse yourself into a mini-version of your industry. There are chances to learn about industry developments, innovations and challenges, connect with otherwise hard-to-reach industry players and meet your readers face to face all under one roof. It’s also a great chance for your sales team to ask if you’ll double up with them on client meetings and dinners, not to mention all the networking events and parties.

As great an opportunity as trade shows may be, they can also be incredibly overwhelming and exhausting. But veteran editors say prepwork is key to finding the right balance.

“It has taken me many years of trade shows to find the swing of things,” said Laura Barnes, editor of PCR out of the United Kingdom. “It can be overwhelming at a big show. My top tip is if the show runs more than a day, booking as many meetings as you can in the first day, and spending the second day experiencing the show properly without wasting half the time rushing around finding meeting rooms.”

Tessa Reed, editor of Travel News Weekly in South Africa, also said preparation is everything.

“You need to find out who is attending and put together a hitlist of people to meet and interview,” she said. “You should go prepared with story angles to build interviews around and exploit every interview and networking function to build relationships and pick up further stories.”

SPLASH! magazine in Australia holds its own trade show every two years. Managing editor Chris Maher said it’s the biggest dedicated pool trade show in the region and it obviously takes a lot of work.

“Our team spends a lot of time interviewing as many people as possible at the show — exhibitors, visitors, speakers, organisations and everyone we can,” he said. “It makes for a lot of work — we are flat out the whole two days — but the result is a great issue and it also provides video and articles for later editions.”

Part of a B2B editor’s job is to support the sales team, but being recruited for a last-minute meeting or dinner can be frustrating. Kathie Zipp, B2B freelancer in the United States, recommends connecting with your sales team before the show to get on the same page.

“When I was working on a single publication full-time, our team would include an hour with each appropriate sales rep in our show schedule,” said Zipp. “The reps knew this was their dedicated time with us and to prioritize visiting with top clients and prospects first.”

In addition to meetings, Zipp preferred to schedule one educational session each day of the show to break things up, make that time to learn and “get a chance to sit down!” She also recommends scheduling in time for lunch and developing content for daily recaps before going to networking events and parties that you know will keep you out late.

“Seriously, shows are exhausting,” she said. “They are physically demanding and so don’t feel like you can’t take time to eat (even if it’s a lunch meeting!) or get enough sleep. I’ve gotten a cold in California in the middle of summer from overworking myself at a show. Give it your best but remember to take care of yourself, workout if you can, eat right and get enough rest.”


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