Reveal Global Media Conference offers virtual product demos, Q&As, and musical interludes

The digital conference has allowed brands to unveil new products even as the coronavirus has upended in-person events.
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The Reveal Global Media Conference wrapped up the first day of its two-day program this afternoon, showcasing new products from brands like Cotopaxi, Hoka One One, and Mountain Hardwear in seven hours of Zoom presentations curated for more than 300 registered journalists.

Hosted by ECHOS Communications with support from Exact Change, OutsidePR, and Foghorn Labs, Reveal's all-digital media conference was conceived around the idea of keeping people connected "despite the broad impacts of coronavirus" and providing product news for the upcoming season to media professionals still eager to cover it.

"I love going to OR and other shows just for the simple fact of being around people," said Todd Lawson, publisher at Mountain Life Media, who tuned in today. "The computer doesn’t replace that, no matter what, but it’s a trying time and it’s important to stay connected with industry colleagues right now. Even just having this as a touch point is definitely helpful. Gear is a big part of what we do at Mountain Life, so just keeping up to date in any way is something we need to do."

Today's schedule included 19 presentations, broken into 15 or 30 minute segments, from brands that revealed new products and offered updates on existing lines. After a few glitches with the audio and video that resolved about 10 minutes into the conference, reps from Icebreaker, Cotopaxi, Mountain Hardwear, Tracksmith, Buff, Hoka One One, Kora, and others broadcast from their home workspaces, demoing product in the best way possible for the format—trying on jackets and other gear to demonstrate fit and new colorways, streaming promo videos, and answering questions coming in from journalists in real time via Zoom's chat feature. Between the demos, the Reveal organizers even found time to include a couple of musical acts.

"We were excited that every presentation went really smoothly," said OutsidePR president Gordon Wright. "We got a lot of enthusiasm from the brands. One of our clients said this has helped catalyze some of their thinking for how to approach product launches in the near term, in the absence of traditional trade shows."

Journalists joined from publications including Outside, Backpacker, Men's Journal, Forbes, Afar, Climbing, GearJunkie, and dozens of others. 

"We had well over 100 journalists watching just for the Hoka presentation," Wright said. "The best part about it, for me, was the level of feedback and interactivity."

Evan Dudley (top) of Exact Change and Gordon Wright (above) of OutsidePR acted as two of Reveal's hosts. The conference was easily accessible via mobile device, adding a level of convenience to the event.

Evan Dudley (top) of Exact Change and Gordon Wright (above) of OutsidePR acted as two of Reveal's hosts. The conference was easily accessible via mobile device, adding a level of convenience to the event.

Despite the show's success on day one, many agree that the format itself offers unique challenges.

"I think it was an interesting first stab at navigating a world without in-person trade shows," said Adam Ruggiero, senior editor at GearJunkie. "It went well for what it was. Every outlet, every journalist has different needs, and I’m curious if everyone got what they needed, or if it was kind of an averaging out of information."

While he said it didn't come close to the experience he gets at an in-person trade show like OR, Ruggiero admitted that it was a worthwhile exercise. "You have to try something to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t," he said.

Michael Hodgson of HI Travel Tales saw the event as "very useful," despite a few initial hiccups. 

"I loved the seamless use of video promotional clips," Hodgson said. "The hosts were clearly well prepared. And I love the fact you could immediately download a media kit for follow up. What needs to improve, though, is the quality of presentation with a bit more coaching. It’s hard working in front of a camera that is static—understandable. But watching presenters hold up product that was poorly lit, too close to the camera, or washed out with backlighting was painful. Future brand presenters should take a cue from Gordon Wright and Jess Smith of OutsidePR who had clearly rehearsed their CamelBak presentation and worked together seamlessly with perfect product explanations and clear visual presentation."

Though planning for the event kicked off as recently as early April, when the pandemic started to throw the spring show season into uncertainty, Wright said the number of hours that went into creating Reveal are "incalculable." Two PR firms and a production company collaborated "nearly full time on it," he said.

The organizers of Reveal haven't disclosed how much companies paid, if anything, to be part of the conference. But they have said that they're planning a second installment of the show in the fall.

The conference continues tomorrow with another full day of presentations focused on cycling brands. Media wishing to register can do so here