About a week ago, my friend Bob posted a question in a private Facebook group regarding deskside media tours. He wondered if anyone was still doing them and if so, were they successful. I answered with a resounding “yes” as I was just putting the final details together on one for a client. It happened this week and was very successful.
I’ve been doing variations of desksides since I first started in public relations. They may be referred to as media meetings, media tours, mission trips, site visits and the like, but the end result is basically the same… an opportunity to get face-to-face with reporters to share information about your client (s).
Now granted, they are not always easy to coordinate. Reporters and editors are busy people what with the continued shrinking of newsroom staffs. It is up to us to ensure that when a reporter commits to a meeting that the time is well-spent. Here are few tips:
- Be aware of the media outlet’s deadlines. Nothing turns off a reporter or editor more than calling on deadline with non-breaking news to schedule a meeting to talk about something happening in the future.
- Stick to the schedule. If you ask for 30-minutes, be sure you have finished your information-sharing in 30 minutes. But be flexible – the reporter may need to speed up the conversation or may extend the time with additional questions.
- Although the traditional media kit may not be necessary, I still find it valuable to have one or two handouts to share during the meeting. They serve as a great reference for the information you are sharing.
- Prep your client or organization prior to the meeting. Be sure they understand that everything they say is considered on the record. Although this may not be a traditional interview, a reporter will always be listening for great story ideas.
- What you do following the media meeting is equally as important as what you shared during the meeting. If additional information has been requested, get it to the reporter in a timely fashion. If the reporter expresses interest in pursuing a story (yay!) be sure engage with them in the days following that commitment to lock in that story. And never underestimate the power of a thank you note.
Any other tips you’d care to share about your experiences?