Safeguarding Confidentiality on the Show Floor

Jen Borucki | June 22, 2016

We lock our homes. Password protect our phones and computers. Install anti-virus software. Keep an attack Chihuahua at the door at all times.

Well, maybe not so much the last one – but you get the idea. We protect what matters to us.

Does that same level of care extend to the power behind our brands when it comes to trade secrets and employee-privileged information at an exhibit or event?

By definition, the show floor is very different than other channels. After all, the Number One reason that attendees visit our booth is to learn what is new – and we know they come with checkbooks poised to do business. Transparency is important in evolving our relationship to be sure. How do we make sure we don’t give too much away in the fact-finding process?

  • Take the time to fully train staff members on key messaging points. It makes sense that a staff member’s level of knowledge is critical to conveying our message. However, there is such a thing as too much information. Make sure your staff is trained on what information is important to share on the show floor – and what is strictly off limits.
  • Realize that competitors are everywhere. That well-dressed person chatting up your new sales rep may be an interested prospect or your arch rival. While there’s nothing wrong with your competitors walking away from a show with a healthy dose of respect for what you do, you certainly don’t want to risk the chance that they will beat your next big launch to market.
  • Don’t overestimate the privacy of your private meeting space. As much as we struggle to overcome the din on the show floor, we can’t count on the fact that other people won’t hear what we are saying behind closed doors. Make sure any dialogue is handled on a need-to-know basis and continue truly private conversations off the show floor.
  • Beware what you share in social media. Pew Research tells us that six out of ten people obtain their news from social media. That’s even more reason for every one of us to ensure our social media footprint only includes information that we want released. Do you want your top competitors to know you’re about to sign a big deal with XYZ Corporation? Then it’s probably best not to post a photo of their CEO shaking hands with your Marketing VP at the show. Discretion is, as they say, the better part of valor.
  • Ensure you have nondisclosure agreements in place before you share information with third-party partners. Building an effective engagement strategy means that you could be sharing a lot of confidential information with people outside your organization. Make sure your partners clearly understand the limits of the knowledge they have access to and walk the talk yourself. If a company discloses private information like pricing and terms to you, take the higher ground. Don’t share that information with other vendors, even if you feel it might get you a better deal.

Remember, you’re in the drivers’ seat when it comes to privileged information. Safeguard what matters to your brands.

Jen Borucki, HMCC is a Marketing Communications Specialist for MG Design, a global full service experiential marketing partner with complete turnkey design, fabrication, marketing, service and labor offerings to successfully create experiences that enrich our clients, our team, our community and our world. In addition to answering your RFI/RFP questions, Jen also provides copywriting services through MG’s internal marketing services agency, magnify™.