Milwaukee’s NPS18 new tool media event is now less than a week away. I’ve started to prep my gear, and will soon finalize my posting schedule for the days I’ll be travelling.
So what it’s like going to a Milwaukee NPS tool show? In one word, it’s exhausting! But in a good way.
Different brands’ media events will flow differently, and even evolve over time. Milwaukee’s hasn’t changed very much, at least not in my experience, aside from growing a little bigger and bigger each year.
I went to Milwaukee’s media events in 2012, 2015, and 2017. Ben went solo in 2016, and we both went in 2017.
Day 1: Travelling to Milwaukee
I figure out how to get to and from my departure airport, and Milwaukee handles the rest, from picking me up at the airport, to delivering me back there at the end.
Food and drinks are paid for, and the same has been true for airfare and hotel accommodations.
In past years, we went on tours of Milwaukee Tool’s facilities the first day. Given my flight schedule, this has meant going directly from the airport to Milwaukee Tool. It looks to be a great place to work. Seriously.
There will usually be a welcome dinner before the event, and maybe an entertainment option the end. There’s time to schmooze and reconnect with people, and to chat with Milwaukee Tool managers and engineers.
It’s not long before everything feels like summer camp. Well, at least that’s how it feels for me. I don’t have a lot of travel time, and this has always been the case. That means it’s been nearly a year since I saw most of the people that will be at the event. I talk with some of the attendees on a regular basis, and there are many others that I am very friendly with. There are always new people to meet.
People hang out a little the first night, but everyone tries to get a good night’s sleep.
If something was announced or shown off that first evening, I put together a quick post before bed. Well, that’s not true. I return from the bar, or wherever there was a high concentration of friendly bloggers/reviewers/influencers, I drink a bottle or two of water, and then I put together a quick post.
Day 2: The Big Event
Wear comfortable shoes and don’t be shy about eating a good breakfast.
There are different ways to experience Milwaukee’s NPS media events. You can treat it like a “show and tell,” where you follow along and absorb. You can bridge the experience to your audience, helping them to be a part of it. You can treat it like a hands-on experience where you try out all the new tools that everyone will be asking you about.
My approach involves a mix of things. I like to take photos, ask questions, and test the tools that interest me most. If I take a break to rest my feet, maybe I’ll post something to social media.
For me, these and other media events aren’t just about learning what is coming out, but what, why, and how. Emails and phone interviews are helpful and insightful, but they don’t come close to what can be gleaned from face to face discussions with engineers and product managers who played major parts in designing the tools being demoed and talked about.
Here’s a quick example:
I don’t think I’ve posted separately about the new “point and shoot” thermal imager yet (I need to, it’s been coming in handy recently). It’s featured in the “hand tool” section of my NPS17 roundup post.
When I first saw it, I thought it sacrificed features for the sake of reaching rock-bottom pricing. After talking to an engineer and the product manager about it, I had completely changed my mind.
We talked about how they worked to reduce start-up time. We pulled the battery, to compare a cold start-up to a sleep start-up. We talked about how they hid the temperature units switch (°F and °C selector) within the battery compartment, in order to simplify the main user interface as much as possible. We talked about the types of users they designed the tool for.
For first-timers, here’s my advice: take breaks when you can, and grab a snack before you need one.
Dinner and Drinks
Milwaukee knows how to throw a party. I don’t even know how to describe it. And so far, no other media event I’ve been to has come close to replicating the experience.
It’s a fun cap to a very long, hard, and busy day.
Day 3: Departure
Last year, we had extra time for photos, video, and discussions, and then we went on a fun boat tour. This year, the optional Milwaukee Tool tour is on the third day, but my flight schedule will force me to miss it.
Day 4: Back to Work
Looking at the latest schedule, the main event starts at 8:45 am, and ends at 5:15 pm. Minus 50 minutes for lunch, that’s a little over 7-1/2 hour of work. Minus breaks or downtime, I’ll probably be actively “working” for 7 hours, covering the new tool releases.
Digesting all the information and insights is hard work, as is taking photos and video to share with you. Converting everything I take away from the media event – that also takes serious time and effort.
Last year, I edited 506 “keeper” photos out of ~900 that I took.
You guys have good questions, and I like to have detailed answers.
I hope to have a quick “best of NPS18” post up soon after the event, a few posts in the following week about the most interesting new tools or technologies, and then the rest of the coverage will follow on a steady schedule.
Questions to Ask?
Are there any questions you would have me ask Milwaukee product managers if given the chance?