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The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) recently announced that its upcoming marquee event, CES 2021, will be all-digital.


Rather than taking place in the expansive halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center next January, exhibitors and guest speakers will be connecting with customers and journalists online to conduct virtual meetings, product unveilings and demos, and keynote presentations.


Of course, the shift to a virtual CES for 2021 is no surprise: It’s one of many major events that has undergone major changes to protect the health and safety of attendees in our COVID-affected world.


But even if you anticipated this development, you may be wondering what now? CES is essentially the Super Bowl of tech shows, as it attracts hundreds of thousands of attendees every year. That makes it an incredibly valuable connection point between your brand, the media, and your customers. If you were planning to make a splash at CES 2021, what’s the best way to maximize your impact during a virtual online event?


Even for seasoned CES veterans, this is uncharted territory. Airfoil has helped elevate our clients’ impact at CES every year since our inception in 2000.


Read more about our work with client Zero Mass Water at CES 2019. 


Still, this will be the first “virtual CES” for anyone, which means everyone will be learning a bit as they go! However, we’ve had almost a full year of experience helping clients adapt and achieve success with virtual press conferences, virtual media briefings, virtual product launches, and virtual events. Combined with our two decades of real-world CES expertise, we’ve learned some best practices when it comes to planning your virtual CES strategy.


  • If you don’t already have a strategy, now is the time to get to work. It seems like there’s a long way to go until January 2021, but CES has a tendency to sneak up on you. The very first step in your strategy should be simple: Think about what you want to achieve at CES – or, if this isn’t your first rodeo, what CES has brought to the table in past years. The answer is surprisingly different for every company. Is the primary value of CES to make media connections? Then you will be best served by focusing your efforts on a comprehensive media relations campaign and virtual journalist meetings. Is the primary value of CES to make business connections with retailers and other customers? Then you will be best served by lead-generation efforts that keep those relationships engaging. And no matter what your CES objectives may be, you’ll always want to be well-prepared for the party. That brings us to the next item…
  • With an all-digital event, content production will be more important than ever. All your meetings, media engagements, product unveilings, and “hands-on” product experiences will need to be conducted virtually. That means video production, on-camera product demos, and even the lighting and logistics of your virtual meeting environment should be a big focus right now. Bringing your CES announcements to life through engaging storytelling will be absolutely essential, and you’ll need every element of your virtual presence to work together. Think about creative ways to replicate in-person experiences with technology – experiences that are scalable, repeatable, interactive, and personal for your virtual visitors. At CES 2021, great virtual experiences will be as important as the announcements themselves.
  • Start planning virtual media briefings earlier than ever. Put yourself in a reporter’s shoes for a second: Even when CES isn’t virtual, the month leading up to the event is packed with product announcements and briefings under embargo. It’s hard to fit all those meetings in, but at least reporters have the option of visiting your CES booth in person and covering your news on the show floor. Needless to say, visiting your booth won’t be an option this year – which means that the number of virtual meeting requests for tech reporters will be off the charts. To make their jobs easier – and to boost your odds of coverage – you will want to host virtual briefings outside of “CES rush hour.” Nearly every tech company on earth will be fighting for reporters’ attention in the weeks leading up to CES, so it’s wise to think outside the box when you’re scheduling your own briefings.
  • Virtual CES will make these programs even more compelling. The annual CES Innovation Awards are often a magnet for media attention, as they highlight the most interesting announcements across all technology categories. Without miles and miles of show floor for journalists to cover, the Innovation Awards are likely to get even more attention this year. Long story short, make sure to submit any product announcements for CES Innovation Award consideration if you feel it’s a good fit. Furthermore, if your company is participating in the slate of keynote speeches and media presentations planned for CES 2021, you may have a bigger audience than ever. These events usually compete with other happenings at CES, but in 2021, reporters and potential customers should be able to view virtual presentations and panel discussions on their own schedule. With that in mind, you’ll want to approach your virtual presentations as much more than a one-time-only live event. Your brand messaging, voice, and vision will need to be sharper than ever, as video of your presentation will be available for everyone to see.

Are you ready to tackle virtual CES? Airfoil can help you make the biggest possible splash. We’ll make sure your brand doesn’t miss a beat by providing expert media-relations campaigns, lead-generation services, content-development efforts, video production, and multimedia experiences that will drive measurable results and growth for your brand.


Sound like a plan? Connect with us today, and let’s get started on making you stand out at CES 2021.

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