What is Wednesday…Informal Media Meetings
Last week, Abbie had a great blog post about how to have a successful deskside media tour. In her post, she shared vital tips on how to make the most of formal face-to-face time with reporters.
I’d like to expand on one of her other suggestions – informal media meetings. To me, an informal media meeting is very different from a deskside media tour.
As Abbie noted, a deskside media tour is often with the client in tow and to discuss a specific issue or issues. During these meetings, it is critical to bring materials to hand out, stick to a schedule and stay on task.
An informal media meeting, in my view, is more about getting to know each other – what drives what we both do, how we came to do it, how we can work together (or not), how we can develop relationships that benefit both of us. Certainly we discuss our clients, brands and story ideas, but they are not the primary reason for the meeting itself. It’s often more like a date than a meeting. (Christia, Ali, Meghann, Georgann, Tyson, Jennifer, Michelle, Teresa, Sondra, Chelsea, Jen, Christina, – back me up here!)
Different from a deskside media tour, an informal media meeting is almost never in the newsroom, the client’s office or even ours. There are just too many distractions for both of us!
Instead, I usually meet one-on-one with the member of the media at a coffee shop during off-peak hours, over lunch or even happy hour if they are up for it.
I am also clear with the member of the media my goal in meeting – to get to know each other first and foremost. I am not there to outright pitch client stories for 30 minutes. I am not there to talk interview opportunities. I am there to get to know what makes that person tick and share things about myself.
When going into the media meeting, I am prepped to talk about a variety of different clients, but generally never bring materials to hand out. I do, however, have something prepared to send after the meeting, which I customize based on what we talk about and any pending story needs they have.
A writer at my core, I like to get to know people, especially those who are in the same industry as me. So oftentimes, these media meetings are much more informal and don’t need to stick to a timeline in the same way that the deskside should. And that hour or so of time spent is among the most enjoyable and beneficial hours I spend each week.
The underlying goal should always be to find ways to connect the client with the media outlet sometime down the line. But I recommend the main goal of these meetings should focus on getting to know each other – putting the RELATIONS back in public relations. Also, to find ways you can help them get things they need, even if not with your clients. Be a connector!
I’ve not only secured some of the best stories (often many) from these meetings, but made some of the best REAL relationships of my professional life.