Recently, I completed one of my favorite activities as a public relations professional: a three-day “media tour,” in which I accompanied one of our manufacturer-clients in a series of face-to-face meetings with the editor staffs of roughly a dozen trade magazines at their Chicago-area offices.
As a former trade-pub editor myself, I enjoy connecting with my old colleagues on their home turf in a relaxed and friendly setting. (Meeting with trade and consumer media in other major publishing centers for our building and architectural products field, such as New York, Washington and Des Moines, is a lot of fun, too.)
But the true beneficiaries—and properly so—are our clients and the editors themselves, who use these occasions to gain a better understanding of one another’s interests and needs on their way to forging deeper and more productive relationships.
Each media-tour meeting, which typically runs sixty to ninety minutes, merits its own approach, depending on the editor, the client and the season. But there are certain fundamentals for any get-together that will ensure success both during the meeting and in its aftermath. Pay close attention to these basics and, when all is said and done, you’ll have zero doubts about the value of the experience.
Fundamental #1: Have something to say. It’s not enough to just show up and plop down for a little coffee and chit-chat: This isn’t a chance encounter at a trade show. Editors are routinely cordial to their guests, but they will expect the meeting to have a specific intent, enabling them to learn things they don’t already know. Without a worthwhile agenda, you’ll likely have a hard time even getting on their schedules.
Previewing a new product is a great way to anchor a media tour: An editor’s main mission is to report on “what’s new,” so your audience will welcome an in-depth look at your latest offering. This approach is also a great way to generate a quick and tangible payoff on your meeting in the form of coverage of your new product in an upcoming issue.
But editors are also on the prowl for content that is more general and not-so-brand-centric in scope. They need “big ideas” they can readily translate into feature stories, in line with their published editorial calendars.
So, in addition to announcing your newest product and what makes it so special, put all those messages in the context of the industry zeitgeist: Why this particular product at this particular time for this particular audience? What needs does it meet? How does it fit in with the general direction of the market? How does it differ from what came before?
What’s more, those questions need not be confined to a new product. Editors will generally welcome your POV on the overall industry (or at least your product category): where it’s been, where it’s headed and why, and how you are adjusting your strategies in response.
This type of big-picture presentation will deliver compelling ideas around which editors can build their own trends stories. And when they finally get around to writing such a story, guess whom they are most likely to contact for further insights and information?
Check back tomorrow for three more fundamental elements of a successful media tour, as well as a gallery of images from a recent tour for Uponor.