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by Michael Shapiro | February 28, 2013

Launch.it, an online "news and information platform," as the creators bill it, essentially makes the online newsroom more public -- by adding social media and an e-magazine sheen to what typically would be just a storehouse of press releases on a particular topic. Recently, Launch.it began targeting exhibition organizers, working with them to a create a show-specific social platform that's part newsroom, part enhanced-listing directory. In this scenario, exhibitors pay to be part of this platform, designed to generate leads as well as disperse news and information throughout the community. For show organizers, it's a potential revenue stream: Launch.it sets up the platform for a fairly minimal charge, and shares the exhibitor-fee revenue with the show owners.

It's an innovative idea, and no one else appears to be doing anything just like it yet in the event space. Think event-specific social platform, but one that focuses primarily on the needs of exhibitors. It's similar to the enhanced listing opportunities in, say, mobile apps, but on a much more robust and interactive scale. It functions as a robust news site of its own.

Check out Eureka Park News, the news channel built for the Eureka Park TechZone at the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show. (It's much easier to wrap your head around this if you see it in action.) Eureka Park showcases startups at CES; it's a chance for those young companies to meet venture capitalists, manufacturers, retailers, press and others to show off their companies and products. Launch.it charged the Consumer Electronics Association "a few thousand dollars," according to Launch.It co-founder Trace Cohen, to set up the Eureka Park News site, and then worked with about 140 exhibitors in the TechZone to get their information into the channel. Exhibitors each paid $100 to publish their news on the site. (Launch.it exhibitor rates thus far have ranged from $100 to $295 per show.)

A "Count It Down" top-10 list at the top of the channel's home page keeps tabs on the 10 most popular news releases, based on a combination of views, comments, how many times each was shared, ratings and "freshness." A news carousel rotates through those 10 stories, highlighting each in turn with a large photo. Clicking through to each story (press release) brings up a nicely presented page with the full release, complete with a lot of downloadable media: high-res images, company information, patent filings, YouTube video demo links, etc. An "Action Box" speaks to the lead-generation purpose: a "Buy it" button brings the viewer directly to the site where the product in question can be purchased; or, for products not yet on the market, an "Invest in it" button is more appropriate, and can link to a KickStarter page. You get the idea — perhaps a "Book it" button could be used for exhibitors at travel- and meetings-industry events. The info may also be saved or printed, and a "Cover it" button, for journalists, sends an email directly to the appropriate exhibitor rep for follow-up info.

Additional features include Facebook comments, which may be activated for responses to and questions about the release, directly on the page. Also, media, investors and/or enthusiasts can choose to follow a company or product simply by checking a box, easily getting themselves on a list to receive future updates. Each exhibitor has complete control over the information displayed in the platform, and can make updates at any time. Launch.it does not have a mobile app, but the site is built to scale to whatever device is being used to view it.

Launch.it has worked with about a dozen events thus far, beginning last June with CE Week in New York City. Founders Trace and (his father) Brian Cohen have a background in technology PR, and have thus far focused their efforts in the tech field and for tech events. But they currently are seeking to expand their horizons and partnerships, and are meeting with a number of industry event organizers in the coming weeks and months. Likewise, they're looking for potential synergies and relationships with other technology providers in the meetings industry. You can contact them, or simply keep an eye out for them at upcoming industry events.