When recession-battered clients of her Malibu public relations agency were cutting their PR budgets, Alyson Dutch found a way for them to get media coverage on the cheap: a marketing version of “speed dating.”
She launched a business – Consumer Product Events – and organized one-day gatherings where marketers meet 30 to 50 journalists who specialize in writing about products. The meetings are scheduled to precede holidays or seasons that demand editorial coverage. For example, separate events focus on Valentine’s Day, weddings or holiday gift guide products.
The format is a small-scale trade show, with journalists walking from table to table where marketers explain their wares. Marketers pay between $2,350 and $8,225 to exhibit, depending on the number of products on display.
Dutch calls the technique “speed dating for products and the press.”
Within nine months of launch, Consumer Product Events was making more money than her traditional PR agency, Dutch + Brown. Her new company now has five full-time employees who will put on 13 events this year in Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas and San Francisco.
Alesandra Dubin, L.A. editor for the business event website BizBash, said Dutch launched her service at the right time.
“Reporters are busy – particularly after newsrooms and editorial departments shrank in the recession,” Dubin said. “So this is an efficient way of making their jobs easier while successfully meeting marketing goals, too.”
Dutch’s strategy has landed exhibitors such as Kitchen Aid; Hallmark; Tesla Motors; Conair; and Victorinox, maker of the Swiss Army Knife. But she also has attracted big names on the media side.
“I was over the moon when Oprah Magazine showed up for an event, then the ‘20/20’ producers came and USA Today,” Dutch recalled. “That was the best day of my career.”