China Toy Fair


What Do Bloggers Want? Part II

By Julie Livingston, Senior Director, Client Development, CarrotNewYork

My last post provided the first part of an interview with Debbie Bookstaber, a leading parent blogger and publisher of Mamanista. Bookstaber has worked extensively in the toy industry, with associations, toy companies, and brands. Following is more valuable insight from this leading blogger and social media expert on what to expect from bloggers and how to work with them more effectively. Connect with her on Twitter at @buzzmommy. To view part one, visit http://bit.ly/ZdlM5w[Read more...]

What Do Bloggers Want? Part I

By Julie Livingston, Senior Director, Client Development, CarrotNewYork

The number of bloggers attending Toy Fair has dramatically increased over the past five years. However, from the numerous conversations I’ve had with industry colleagues and bloggers alike, there is significant confusion about the most effective means of working together.

To clarify these misconceptions, I interviewed Debbie Bookstaber, a leading parent blogger and the publisher of Mamanista, who was recently named one of the “25 Parent Bloggers Who Are Changing The World” by Babble.com. A thought leader in the social space, Bookstaber has spoken at many blogger conferences, including SXSW, BlogHer, Type-A Parent, Springboard, and Affiliate Summit. She has worked extensively in the toy industry with associations, toy companies and brands. Connect with Debbie on Twitter at @buzzmommy. [Read more...]

Instagram Builds Toy Fair Momentum, Community

By Julie Livingston, Senior Account Executive, CarrotNewYork, formerly Senior Director, Public Relations, Toy Industry Association

The adage “a picture tells a thousand words” perfectly describes the free, mobile-sharing app Instagram. The simple act of setting up your Toy Fair product line, exhibit booth, or private showroom can be turned into a compelling narrative easily and effectively. The free application has a simple interface; the bottom part of the app allows you to access the feed and see all of the photos added by you and the individuals you follow. You can click comment to voice your opinion and like a photo by clicking on the heart icon. To give Instagram photos a promotional edge, add a caption including a hashtag or two, such as #BrandXYZ and #TF as well as other, common Instagram tags such as #toys,  #love or #photooftheday that are relevant to your show posts. The site Webstagram is a helpful tool for identifying which hashtags are trending. Remember that although Instagram is a terrific mobile marketing tool, it works best in tandem with other visual content sites such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Tumblr, as these offer the best viral impact for sharing and discussing photos. [Read more...]

Use Twitter to Amplify Toy Fair Messaging

By Julie Livingston, Director of Business Development & Accounts,Child’s Play Communications; former Senior Director of Public Relations, Toy Industry Association

Want your toy or plaything to pop up more in online search? You’ve got to feed the social media engine! By regularly posting information on the leading social media platforms with relevant, ongoing messages and links, the more your company or brand will pop up in online search. This is also a primary means of putting your brand or products on the radar of the legions of reporters who use social media to do their pre-show fact-finding.

As there are a variety of social platforms to choose from, there is no “one size fits all” solution. You don’t have to be everywhere. Focus your efforts on one or several platforms that are well suited to your product, where you can shine. Consider the content itself—who will plan an editorial calendar, create the content, post it, and manage responses? This is critical because members of the press will expect to get expedient responses to their requests.   [Read more...]

What’s Your Toy Fair Product Story?

By Julie Livingston, Director of Business Development & Accounts,Child’s Play Communications; former Senior Director of Public Relations, Toy Industry Association

Reporters scouting Toy Fair for hot products and overarching trends are pressed for time and attention. On a good day, they may have an hour or so to peruse the aisles overflowing with eye candy. Keep in mind that, in addition to covering the spectacle of the show, they are also looking for alternative story angles of greater depth. Such angles may include:

  • Lifestyle trends and new ways that kids are engaging in play;
  • “Hometown heroes”- stories about unlikely toy inventors or inventions;
  • Emerging entertainment properties and licenses;
  • Made in the USA products; and
  • Brand legacy stories (including special anniversaries of best-loved brands and characters). [Read more...]

Get a Head Start on Toy Fair

By Julie Livingston, Director of Business Development & Accounts, Child’s Play Communications; former Senior Director of Public Relations, Toy Industry Association

We all know that the fourth quarter of the current year and first quarter of the new year are a marathon of events and deadlines for the toy industry. First, it is the chaos of closing out holiday orders and enjoying a brief holiday break. Then, for many, it’s on to the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair, followed by Nuremberg and then the annual New York Toy Fair at the Jacob K. Javits Center from February 10 to 13. With such a compressed timetable, every minute in pre-Toy Fair planning counts.

The annual event draws approximately 1,000 global media representatives from top tier outlets including The Today Show, The View, CNN, the Associated Press, The New York Times, NY Daily News, Wall Street Journal, and many more. Media publicity affords toy companies with valuable promotion and exposure, which can help to hype “driver products”–those in-demand items expected to be hot sellers for the 2013 holiday season.   [Read more...]

When should licensees activate their public relations campaign?

By Julie Livingston, director, business development and accounts, Child’s Play Communications, New York City

With the advent of the annual Licensing Expo on June 12-14 in Las Vegas, licensors, licensees, companies, and brands will take steps to contemplate their marketing and communications plans for forthcoming product lines. In my work over the past decade with toy and youth entertainment companies, the oft-asked question inevitably comes back to timing, as in “when is the best time to activate my PR program?”

First and foremost, the licensee must consider the obligatory marketing activities detailed in the licensing contract, including advertising and promotion, public relations, and/or trade-show presence. Once established, a marketing and promotion plan (based on the general strategic marketing plan) can be devised to dovetail with the licensor’s objectives.

In addition to following the licensor’s brand-specific style guide, knowing their history of communicating and working with licensing partners can be helpful and provide tremendous insight. For example, gain insight on the licensors’ internal approval process, including key decision makers, to whom things must be submitted, and how long approval typically takes. This information will help to clarify key processes and assist the licensee to plan accordingly. Although some of the following items may seem intuitive, the PR planning process and execution must be meticulously timed to coincide with in-store or on-screen dates.

[Read more...]

Keeping the Momentum Going After Toy Fair

Final post in a six-part series of posts on preparing for the annual trade event

By Julie Livingston, Director, business development and accounts, Child’s Play Communications, New York City

With Toy Fair officially over, it is time to take a quick breath and capitalize on the media interest your company or brand received during those intense four days. You may return to a desk piled high and an overwhelming number of emails to answer, but don’t lose the momentum you’ve created. Many Toy Fair exhibitors come back from the show re-energized about their own businesses, so now is a good time to move fast. If you wait more than two weeks after Toy Fair to start following up on media leads, there’s a good chance you’ll never do it. Following are tips on the most effective ways to keep the momentum going after the show:

1.     Re-read Toy Fair notes and identify next steps: Transcribe your Toy Fair meeting notes as soon as possible while the show experience is still fresh in your mind. Ask other colleagues to review and “weigh in” from their perspective. With input from everyone who worked the booth, keep a record of which media outlets stopped by and who worked with them. Importantly, note any issues or problems. Did a reporter come early or late to an appointment, finding that there was no one available to work with them? How was this handled? Were bloggers treated with respect? How were business cards collected? How could these things be handled better in the future?

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Tips for Optimizing Exposure For Your Toy in Real Time at Toy Fair

Fifth in a series of posts on preparing for the annual trade event.

by Julie Livingston, director, business development and accounts, Child’s Play Communications

That crazy mix of anticipation, excitement, and adrenaline occurs each year for me, as I walk into the Javits Center on opening day of Toy Fair. There is so much to do in advance of the show, not to mention managing the intensity of the four-day event and post-show follow up.

If you have already reached out to the media and bloggers to schedule appointments to meet and give them a heads up on your new products, that’s a good thing. There is a chance that some reporters may spend times “walking the floor,” but with staff cutbacks at many media companies, their time is often limited. It is more likely for reporters to come to Toy Fair with predetermined ideas of what they want to see; they may also narrow their search for specific products that exemplify a particular toy trend (or trends) they are covering, such as tech or connected toys.

As a Toy Fair exhibitor, what is the best way to handle the media on site at the show? This is often the biggest challenge for exhibitors who are preoccupied with retailer meetings and managing a handful of product samples. This post includes tips and advice on how to work with the media that attend the event.

Scheduled Appointments

If you have preset appointments, tell your exhibit booth administrator and designate another colleague as a backup, in case you are unavailable. If your backup is someone unaccustomed to dealing with the press, provide an overview of the media outlet and leave any press materials for them, as well as your business card and mobile number. Given the hectic nature of Toy Fair, it is not unusual for appointments to show up early or late, which may throw a curve ball into your day. However you handle it, make sure the reporter is taken care of properly and professionally.

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How to Best Work With Bloggers and Toy Industry Experts at Toy Fair

Fourth in a series of posts on preparing for the annual trade event.

by Julie Livingston, director, business development and accounts, Child’s Play Communications

In addition to the hoards of journalists from traditional media channels covering Toy Fair, exhibitors should also consider outreach to bloggers (specifically, mom bloggers who write product reviews) and toy industry experts who cover the annual event.  Both influential in their own right, the clout these individuals carry can be particularly valuable to small and mid-sized toy companies, driving brand awareness, social media prominence, and, ultimately, sales.

Getting your toy featured on the right product review blog is a marvelous way to generate grassroots buzz for your product. According to a recent study conducted by Child’s Play Communications and the NPD Group, 79 percent of all American moms with children under the age of 18 are active in social media. Of that number, about one in four have made purchasing decisions as a result of a social media recommendation; more than half (55 percent) said they made their purchase because of a recommendation from a personal review blog

To reach moms where they “live,” it is essential that toy and youth entertainment companies have a strong presence among mom bloggers. To clarify, a mom blogger is a mother, generally with young preschool-aged children, who blogs on a regular basis. Many of the mom bloggers we work with at Child’s Play turned to blogging as an outlet following earlier careers as journalists, writers, and marketers. Some were involved in other aspects of business, and many are moms looking to express themselves while connecting with other moms to share experiences and life lessons. These women are smart, dedicated, and energetic.

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