Working primarily with clients in the automotive industry, we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing many personal and career firsts. Topping the list is the number of motorsports events, car shows and black-tie dinners attended. But even following months of planning and preparation, nothing could fully ready us for the assignment we were tasked in January – to attend the annual Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas.
- SHOT Show is like nothing you’ve ever experienced. SHOT Show is an entirely different animal from anything either of us has ever been involved with. The week-long event traditionally kicks off with “Day at the Range,” a full day devoted to firearm and accessory manufacturers offering live demonstrations to top-tier industry media at a massive outdoor shooting range outside Las Vegas. With dozens of companies on hand, ear protection was a must as hundreds of rounds were fired every minute. Survival Tip: Be sure to go with an open mind.
- You can’t appreciate an industry until you attend its marquee event. With 65,000 attendees, the SHOT Show is the largest and most comprehensive trade show for professionals in the shooting sports and hunting industries, and the fifth largest trade show held in Las Vegas. That’s a lot of shooters. As we spent the remainder of our week immersing ourselves into the conference, we walked the halls alongside thousands of firearm and outdoor gear dealers and enthusiasts, and we talked trucks with the best of them. Though we aren’t firearm experts, we found common ground and learned that “car guys” aren’t the only people who care about what’s under the hood. Survival Tip: To master a new industry, interact with the people who make it tick.
- Regardless of the industry, media have a distinct approach. We were quick to discover that interacting with this new group of media was quite different from the automotive press we’re used to working with back home in Detroit. The outdoor media group is a bit more laid back, and we found they have a very distinct approach. Unlike automotive journalists who may simply review products or follow one major OEM, media in the outdoor industry wear many hats. They aren’t just writers. Often, a reporter for an outlet is also the advertising manager, digital content producer and filmographer, which was a challenge for earned media purists like us. It took the entirety of the week at SHOT Show to fully master this nuance, and we walked away with a strong grasp on what is required to garner news for a client in this type of environment. Survival Tip: Always be prepared to adapt your pitch style on the fly.
Attending SHOT Show was one of the better professional experiences for either of us. Experiencing a different industry – and its media – helped us identify its distinct nuances and helped both of us expand our experience and skill set. The challenge was welcomed, and we’re already looking forward to applying our new-found knowledge in our day-to-day work.
Written by Steve Diehlman and Kevin Raftery. Steve is an account director and Kevin is a senior account executive, both based out of Stratacomm’s Detroit office.