For a decade, Rockwell Automation has sponsored a free, annual trade show, Automation Fair, for its global manufacturing customers.  Exclusive to Rockwell Automation and partner companies, the event goes beyond typical trade shows by offering attendees educational technical sessions and hands-on labs.  Automation Fair has averaged 6,000 attendees and 17,600 customer inquiries annually. 


Rockwell Automation places strong emphasis on media relations for the Fair, which includes a day-long Global Media Summit held the day before the Fair begins.  In 2000, coverage of the Fair was generated in every major global manufacturing and automation publication.




One point of Rockwell Automation’s market differentiation is a commitment to help manufacturers succeed through education on technology use and business practices through events like Automation Fair.  But with the economy slowing in early 2001, trade media were increasing their reports on the decline of traditional trade shows as worth the time and investment of manufacturers.  Using previous attendee feedback about the educational value of Automation Fair, Rockwell Automation moved to formally structure and promote Automation Fair 2001, Nov. 14-15 in Atlanta, Ga., as an educational event for manufacturers.  And because of the educational focus for customers, the company uses its subject matter experts, customers and outside speakers to educate the trade media who attend the Global Media Summit.  The company partnered with Padilla Speer Beardsley Inc. (PSB) to plan, execute and evaluate a supportive global trade media relations program for the Fair.




January 2001:

  • Post-Fair global trade media survey (31 percent response rate)
  • Post-Fair attendee survey (27 percent response rate)

Research conclusions:

·         While two-thirds of attendees did not think the Fair was an educational event, the majority found the labs and technical sessions valuable.

·         The majority of trade media view Rockwell Automation as a good resource for information about automation and manufacturing.

·         The majority of media also believes a theme enhances a trade show experience. 




Primary target audience:

North American and other international editors of manufacturing, automation publications read by Rockwell Automation’s target customers


Secondary audience:

Potential attendees – manufacturing decision-makers



·    Position Automation Fair 2001 as Rockwell Automation’s vehicle to educate the market, as measured by editor perceptions following the event.

·    Position Rockwell Automation as the leading source of automation control information for editors worldwide.


Key messages


The IT capital-spending spree of the late 1990s filled a “technology-gap” for many manufacturers; however, the rapid pace of innovation has resulted in a “knowledge-gap” in terms of successfully integrating the latest automation technology from shop floor to the top floor. 


Automation Fair 2001 provides attendees a free educational experience for advanced understanding in manufacturing that maximizes their company’s capital investments.


Through Complete Automation from Rockwell Automation, its brands and its partners, Automation Fair 2001 attendees learn first-hand how to lower costs and increase efficiencies and productivity.


Automation Fair 2001 showcases Rockwell Automation’s commitment to delivering the highest value in automation solutions to manufacturers.


This year marks the 10th year Automation Fair has delivered an educational forum combining product and service solutions with hands-on labs and technical sessions to educate manufacturing decision-makers.


Communications strategies

Leverage Automation Fair 2001 to reinforce Rockwell Automation’s commitment to meet the growing technology and service needs of manufacturers worldwide.


Help Rockwell Automation and partner exhibitors position the Fair and planned Fair announcements for maximum media potential.


Strengthen the link between the Global Media Summit and Automation Fair.


Enhance the trade media’s experience of Automation Fair.


Evaluate effectiveness of plan among exhibitors and editors at the end of Automation Fair 2001.




Pre-Fair publicity:  Bylines were produced that positioned Rockwell Automation’s perspective on the decline in trade show attendance, and positioning Automation Fair as an educational event worth the time for manufacturers.  Bylines were placed with


A-B Journal and Control Solutions magazines, reaching more than 150,000 manufacturers.  Additionally, Rockwell Automation and industry analyst firm ARC Advisory Group wrote a similar byline for Control Engineering, reaching another 88,000 manufacturers. 


“The Economics of Manufacturing” – Global Media Summit 2001, Nov. 13:  Rockwell Automation sponsored a non-commercial media forum the day before Automation Fair.  The event featured a keynote from Gail Fosler, The Conference Board, as well as panels of manufacturers and third-party experts who discussed various topics under the theme, “The Economics of Manufacturing.”  The event closed with a presentation linking the day’s topics to Automation Fair activity.


Pre-fair calendar advisory:  Key trade publications in North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific Summit and Automation Fair.


Exhibitor publicity assistance:  The exhibitor Web site for Automation Fair featured information such as electronic Hot News forms, media lists, publicity guidebook, and general publicity information.


Automation Fair Online Press Room:  Linked to the main Automation Fair home page, this site featured detailed information for the Global Media Summit and Automation Fair, media materials, interview request forms, appointment checklists, and current news about the Fair.


Editor Update e-letter: This brief, bi-weekly e-letter provided editors with previews of planned announcements, events, highlights, featured speakers and press room support for both Automation Fair and the Global Media Summit.  Each reinforced key messages and included links to the Online Press Room for registration for both the Summit and the Fair, appointment requests, etc.  


Online appointment scheduling: Editors received an e-mail link to request booth appointments and indicate preferences for Summit panels.


Master appointment schedule:  The publicity team coordinated booth schedules for 13 Rockwell Automation brands and businesses. 


Automation Fair 2001 Press Room:  The Press Room was the central location for media relations at the Fair, with two separate rooms for quiet interview spaces.  Equipped with computers, Internet access, phones, fax, printer, and free FedEx services for editor use. Media kits from Fair exhibitors were also available.


Access to sessions, labs:  Seats were reserved at every technical session and hands-on lab for editors to observe.


Hot News:  The Hot News guide was featured in the 2001 Automation Fair Press Room to help editors navigate exhibits at the Fair and see a listing of new products introduced by all exhibitors.




Primary formal:  Online survey to all attending editors, late December 2001 (40 percent response rate)


Secondary informal:  Review of generated clips, November-December 2001


Secondary informal:  Preliminary statistics, Automation Fair 2001




Preliminary figures show that 9,000 manufacturers attended Automation Fair 2001, slightly above the average.


A total of 48 editors from all four major global regions attended both the Global Media Summit and Automation Fair.


Top-line observations, editor survey results:

·      89 percent thought the Fair was structured as an educational event.

·      89 percent thought they received timely, clear information, previews and scheduling assistance prior to the Fair.

·      95 percent thought they received sufficient support during the Fair.

·      100 percent consider Rockwell Automation to be a good information resource on manufacturing and automation.

·    ARC Advisory Group published an Insight report Dec. 5, 2001, for its manufacturing subscribers:  “Rockwell’s Automation Fair Excels in Educational Value for Attendees.” 

Articles appeared within one week of the Fair’s close online from the Financial Times, Control Engineering, MSI, Nikkei BizTech (Japan), and The Engineer (U.K.).  A more formal analysis of coverage will commence in early 2002.