Yes, Go Ahead, “Play That Funky Music”.

So the GRAMMYs are almost here. It will be the 61st GRAMMY award show and considered by many to be music’s biggest night®. It will return to Los Angeles’ STAPLES Center on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019. So why would I write about the GRAMMYs. Well…I’m not really, but thinking about this very unique event did remind me of a recent convention I attended and it got my wheels turning.

That convention was the National Retail Federation, a very large convention held in New York at the Javits Center and it was amazing. 38,000 attendees. So many wonderful exhibits, over 800 to be exact. But I must say, I am partial and very proud of the many exhibits that Poretta & Orr designed for our clients at NRF…click here if you’d like to request additional information and photos.

Well, the only way I can describe NRF was that it was an assault on the senses. There was a little bit of everything. And one of the things that stood out to me was the music that was playing in many of the exhibitors’ booths. It got me wondering if they knew that any live or recorded tunes played in an exhibit may be subject to laws that govern the use of copyrighted music. Sometimes these fees can be hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. However, if you would like music but don’t have the budget for this exhibit enhancing and sensory addition, there are websites that offer royalty-free music, such as

Keep in mind that if you choose to incorporate music into your exhibit booth, there are rules and regulations from the show management that must be followed. Be sure that the sound in your exhibit does not exceed the 85-decibel limit (or the limit that is outlined in the show’s prospectus). It will be very embarrassing if you receive warnings…and if you ignore them, don’t be surprised if your exhibit’s electrical power is disconnected. Remember, as Aretha Franklin sang with gusto, have a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T…think of your next door exhibit neighbors.

And speaking of neighbors, one of our clients at NRF told me about a nearby booth that, well, fell over. Yikes, not good. Always be sure to use labor that can be trusted and have a supervising staff person monitor booth set-up. I know at Poretta & Orr we prefer to hear the song, I’m Still Standing by Elton John when it comes to this scenario. 

Something else I noticed walking around the exhibit hall at NRF is that there were a number of exhibit booths that I felt were actually challenging me to tell them what company they were. Seemed as if it were part of their exhibit booth strategy and I would win a prize if I could figure it out. Exhibiting 101, always have your company name visible and prominent within the exhibit space. Ultimately that is why you are there, so that attendees remember you, your company, and your product. You know that song, Horse with No Name by the group America? Don’t be that song.

As I made my way through the exhibit hall and visited our clients, I was very impressed that every one of our clients greeted me and asked me a question. I can’t say that about a number of the other exhibitors I visited. What a waste of time, money and resources to not have the right exhibit staff working in the booth. Staff that is engaged, trained and excited to be there is what is required. Missed opportunities for certain. Guess what song comes to mind? Another One Bites the Dust by Queen. Yep. Not good.

If you have exhibit space in the back of the hall, some automatically think…epic fail. Do you recall the song, The Gambler by Kenny Rogers? Well, don’t gamble with your exhibit program. It is up to the exhibitor to entice attendees to their booth…no matter where in the hall you are located. Create a strategy, utilize social media and giveaways to draw attendees to you. You must do pre-show promotion. If you don’t, yes, an old tune by Elvis Presley may just start blaring…Are You Lonesome Tonight?

NRF provided so many opportunities to be a part of an impressive convention, and notice great examples of exhibit programs and those that may need a little work. Every time I am lucky enough to be able to visit our clients in the environment in which they show off their creative and memorable exhibit booths I realize how very lucky I am to work in this industry. As Louis Armstrong sang, What a Wonderful World.

So, Whoomp, There It Is. I think I tied the GRAMMYs in nicely, don’t you?

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