Thanksgiving is next week.  Holiday gift guides are arriving by the dozen. CES is 50 short days away.

Don’t panic. It’s a big time of year for consumer technology companies, and not just because of the upcoming holiday shopping season.

You have a lot to take care of in the next couple months, but there are certain priorities you should handle immediately. Here are five that will put you in a good position before the end of the year, so you can light a rocket behind your PR and marketing campaign in 2017.


Many media are already publishing their guides to the best consumer tech for everyone on your shopping list. At this point, you won’t be able to make every gift guide, since some of the printed and more comprehensive gift lists were compiled back in the summer and early fall. But there are still opportunities to place your product on influential lists with top online media and TV spots that can give your sales an extra holiday bump. When we got David Pogue to review a client’s Bluetooth speaker as part of his holiday gadget guide, they sold out. Never underestimate the power of media gift lists.


If you want major media coverage at CES, you should be at these pre-CES shows. The additional fees to exhibit are well worth the exclusive and early media access you get in return — it’s something the larger show can’t offer. In 2015, the big winner out of Unveiled was the Belty smart belt, a self-cinching wearable that caught the attention of the media two days before CES even started. Its rise in the media over the next several days landed it in CNET, CNBC, USA Today, and CBS News, among dozens of others. Sign up for these shows immediately while there’s still time and space.


Start studying appropriate media and what they covered over the course of 2016. But don’t pitch them on CES just yet. At this point, you will annoy media before you have a chance to set a CES appointment with them. Pitching a CES meeting requires careful timing given the slalom of holidays that crop up right before the show. For now, figure out who covers your space and would be interested in your story. Look for announcements about which reporters are attending to narrow the list down further. Aim to have a target list of media — national, local, trade – by December.


You need to decide which team members will attend and how many. Pick employees who are outgoing, friendly, approachable, and knowledgeable about the ins and outs of your technology. You want people who will actively engage with visitors and worked with media in your space throughout the year. Eliminate anyone who might hang around in the back of the booth, chatting with each other and staring at their smartphones. If you don’t have the right people on staff, or can’t spare this much time for them to be away from their normal duties, consider hiring and training some PR pros who have attended and worked CES in the past to help out. Staff will need to have your messaging and product information down pat. Spend time training employees on how to react to different situations.


What was your biggest achievement of the year? What was your biggest failure? Did your marketing and PR efforts land you in high-profile media? What tech events were the best investment of your time and money? Which of your internal experts might be ready to step into the spotlight to tell your company’s story in 2017? Take a hard look at what’s working – and not – in your marketing and PR efforts and set some goals for next year.

The road to 2017 is short, and there’s a lot to get done. Especially if you’re planning to attend CES, you have your work cut out for you. We collected our best advice, complete with checklists, to make the process a lot easier. Check out “Operation CES Success” for more ways to get your CES campaign in line before January arrives.