By: Bridget Hagan and Nicole Batchelor
Think old-school P.R. is dead? Think again. Media tours are as relevant as ever, and they can still lead to stellar results if you meticulously prepare for your next face-to-face.
Today, we have more ways than ever to communicate with one another… but that doesn’t mean a classic approach isn’t still sometimes the best. In a world where digital pitches are now the norm in media relations, meeting reporters in-person is invaluable. Not only does it provide you the opportunity to discuss recent news or show off your new product in person, but it opens the door to stronger personal and professional relationships.
We never want you to miss an opportunity, so we’ve tapped into AKHIA’s rich experience organizing, planning and executing media tours to put together four easy steps to ensure your experience is worthwhile for both you and your media contact.
Step 1: Decide which media tour is best for you
There are a variety of methods that get you in front of the media:
- Desk-side meetings. These are face-to-face meetings that have been prearranged between a company spokesperson and the media at their offices or an off-site location. This is a great opportunity to form better relationships, have a real conversation, talk about what’s new with your company and products, and tailor your conversation to the trend or section you feel would work best in their outlet.
- Editor Showcases. Like a tradeshow, an editor’s showcase is an event with multiple exhibitors, but it is only open to members of the media. These events are usually used to show off your products physically and provide hands-on time with attending media. Depending on the show, this is a great way to interact with many reporters in a short amount of time.
- Impromptu stop-by. Media often have tight deadlines and are not always available to take a spontaneous lunch or even grab a quick coffee. It is always best to work around a reporter’s schedule to ensure they are fully engaged.
Step 2: Determine the details
Once you have decided which meeting type is best for you, it’s time to get organized.
- Map out your desk-side meetings to ensure you’re allotting enough travel time, especially if the meetings are at different locations and you’re in a major city. There is nothing worse than making an important contact wait on you if another conversation runs over!
- Make sure you’re arranging meetings that make the most sense for the news you are sharing. Likewise, read the details of the editor showcase and make sure you’re a good fit for the showcase topic and audience that will be attending. Asking to see the media list from the previous year is always helpful.
- For an editor showcase, make sure your booth and products are all set and ready to go well in advance. Deadlines are key for these larger shows! If you’ve submitted forms for your booth (electrical, internet, equipment rental), have them on hand to reference in a pinch, along with tracking numbers and package return slips. Have a knowledgeable spokesperson available to speak to the product and other key topics.
Step 3: Prep and practice
In-person meetings can be more casual and friendly than over the phone or via email; however, it’s still crucial that you practice your key messaging and know your subject well.
- Be prepared with any supplemental materials to share, including media kits, photos, a video queued up or anything else you anticipate the media requesting.
- Do your research on all the media you are meeting with in advance by looking up recent articles, topics of interest and personal interests. For example, did they graduate from the same alma mater as you, or are they from your hometown? This helps to create a more personal connection and shows you’ve done your homework!
- For an editor showcase, you’ll likely only get the names of the outlets. Based on those publications, work through what features, benefits and trends would appeal most to that outlet’s audience. That way, when they come to your booth, you don’t need to think on your feet! Also, you may need to be the one to approach and pull in media to your booth, so prepare creative ways to reel them in, like offering a fun experience or tasty treat.
Step 4: Stay in touch
You’ve completed your media tour, so it’s time to sit back and wait for your coverage to start rolling in, right? Wrong! The most important part of any media tour is the follow-up. Check in to see if they have any new questions since you’ve met and send over materials or responses you discussed during the meeting. You’ve successfully made the initial contact, and now you need to maintain that relationship over time.
While email, social media and the phone are all still useful ways to communicate your message to the media, it’s important to take the time to meet with your key contacts in a more personal way, building a relationship and the opportunity for future coverage.