How to Maximize Exposure after a Design Show

Hi, I’m Charlene, I help creatives show and sell their work. I’m a business coach, a social media consultant, and a design journalist. I also ran the social media for WantedDesign 2019 during NYCxDesign.

In New York, we have just wrapped up NYCxDesign, which was the 10th to the 22nd of May. And in London, we have just wrapped up Clerkenwell Design Week, which was the 21st to the 23rd of May.

Now, the thing with doing design shows is, when you invest in taking part in a design festival, or in a trade show or in a design show, I really believe that being there in person is only part of it. There’s a lot that you can do afterwards to leverage your presence and your investment at these design shows.

Sidebar: Do you watch RuPaul’s Drag Race? I do. And I love it.

I’ve been reflecting that the way this reality show is now (it’s now in season 11), it really doesn’t matter who wins the crown. Everyone kind of knows that. It’s really how the different drag queens leverage the opportunity of having been on the reality show, whether they get kicked off first (Miss Vanjie!) or they go all the way to the finale, that really determines who really wins.
Miss Vanjie has more than a million Instagram followers.

A lot of the drag queen contestants are really savvy now. They use social media to post great content, they post great photos, even the ones that get kicked off post photos of what they would have worn for different challenges. And people use YouTube to create content, with recap shows, for instance. So they’ve really been able to leverage that experience of being on the reality show to go beyond what they did on the show.

Anyway, this is how it applies to designers!

With designers, when you take part in a design festival or a trade show or other kind of design show, if you’re not posting on social media afterwards, you are missing out on a lot of the opportunity and potential exposure from doing it.

I want to share some of my top tips for leveraging your investment in a design show or a design fair.

One, do continue posting on Instagram, please, even if you weren’t posting during the show, which I do highly recommend that you do. But even afterwards, continue posting on there. After a show or festival design, journalists are working on roundup posts,  like the best of, the highlights, the trends.

That’s a great opportunity for exhibitors to really reach us when we’re doing that research. So do post on Instagram, with the same kind of quality photos that you would post during the show. Don’t go all goofy, do not stop posting.

Keep in mind that some blogs will actually just embed your Instagram posts directly into their blog post. So, great reason to continue to post on Instagram. Some bloggers who are on tight deadlines might just grab a photo from your Instagram or from your website. All the more reason to upload photos of the new collections that you’ve just launched to your website or to your Instagram!

If you’ve really got it together, I highly recommend posting both low-res and high-res images to your website for download. Make it easy for journalists to find those images and to share them. Do accompany them with the correct information, ideally!

Do post a mix of photos on your website and on your Instagram. That includes the professionally shot photos of products against a white background, the styled photos, the lifestyle images, as well as images of your product on the stand. And maybe you with the product as well.

You want to have that mix of images because different media outlets are going to have different needs. Bloggers are going to have a different need than the print press.

Do use hashtags and tag people on your Instagram posts. Use the hashtags and tag the show organizers. Use the hashtags and tag the festival. For instance, Clerkenwell Design Week in London just happened. Or for @WantedDesign #WantedDesign. For NYCXDesign it’s #NYCxDesign and @NYCxDesign in New York.

There are a couple of different reasons to do this. One, the show runners themselves are going to be posting on our Instagrams about the highlights, same as the journalists.

And you help us out a lot by giving us quality content. Show runners need the quality content as well as journalists. Again, journalists are going to be doing their roundups of the best of the shows, or working on their trend reports. The more that you can do to help us find you, is really helpful.

Imagine that you’re a journalist who is doing a roundup of the highlights of NYCxDesign.

And you’re looking perhaps for trends. You can bet that we are looking at the hashtag #NYCxDesign – we want to see what other people found interesting, we want to make sure we didn’t miss anything. We are going to be actively looking at those hashtags, even after the show.

We see a lot of things when we go to design festivals and shows. So it’s really helpful to look at those hashtags to be reminded of what we saw, as well as looking at our very full phones.

And also use the Geotag. That’s something that people don’t usually use. But one way that people get that overview of what was seen and what was shown at certain shows is to look at the Geotag. So whether that’s the Geotag Clerkenwell Design Week in London, or using the Geotag for WantedDesign or a particular show or venue in New York, don’t neglect the Geotag – it’s there to help people find you.

I highly recommend that creative brands think of their Instagram accounts before, during and after a trade show or design show as an extension of their press release. And if you don’t have a press release, as an alternative to a press release. What do I mean by that?

I mean: Post the information that we need to know. Post beautiful images, of course, but don’t neglect the captions! In the captions, put information like what’s the name of the collection, what’s the name of the particular piece, the materials that are used, how it’s made. You can even include dimensions if it’s something like furniture that’s really particular for that.

And the reason to do this is, yes, we get press packs. And yes, we get sent press releases. But I personally have a whole tray of cards and press releases and press packs. And I don’t want to go digging through the tray when I’m writing a piece. Make it easy for us to find that information — include it in the captions of your Instagram posts.

Speaking of making things easier …  international exhibitors had a great presence at WantedDesign this year. There were exhibitors from Mexico, from Colombia, from Poland, from Egypt, from Shanghai, from Québec, which is great, and really exciting and interesting.

If your Instagram account is usually in a different language than English, I would highly recommend that you continue posting your captions in English as well as your language in the weeks following a show and really before during as well. And again, it’s just to make it easier.

If a journalist loved your piece, they want to find out more. Make it easy for us to look at your caption and find out that information. Again, you might find that people just copy and paste what you’ve put there. You’ve really don’t want a journalist to be running your Instagram caption through Google Translate! You want to be able to deliver that information in a way that’s accurate.

Too often, I find that people post beautiful images, but they tell me almost nothing about the piece. So don’t neglect your captions. Do put that information in there. Put it in English, make it easy for people to talk about you.

Do let us know how to contact you. In your Instagram bio, I recommend that you have an email really clearly at the top or you have the email me button. I recommend both. And on your website, do you have a clear way to contact you, if we need higher resolution photos or just more information.

I would even consider putting your phone number on your website. It could just be for a short time after a trade show. A lot of the journalists who are more old school actually prefer to use the phone. When they’re working on a tight deadline, they want to just get a hold of someone right away. So do consider having the phone number on there as well.

And of course, follow up. That one is in your court. You have gotten a lot of business cards, you’ve met a lot of people, and you want to have a plan for following up with them. As showgoers and as journalists, we see a lot of things, and we meet a lot of people. It really helps to have people jogging our memories of who we saw and who we spoke with. Have a plan for doing that whether it’s with press, potential clients, or potential sources of referrals.

Hope that helps! I am Charlene, and I help creatives show and sell their work. Have questions? Get in touch at or find me on Instagram @charclam