By Shannon McCormick, Media Relations Manager
In one month, I set-up and attended more than a dozen meetings with top journalists in the nation’s two largest news markets - New York and Los Angeles. After some fantastic and inspiring meetings, I’m sharing four tips for a successful media visit.
At MediaSource we take every single opportunity to meet face to face with journalists. We believe media visits are crucial to success in public relations and brand journalism. As a former TV journalist, I’ll admit it just makes me feel good to be inside newsrooms, I love the energy! It makes me a happier worker because I can turn “contacts” into “friends” - journalists become the kind of people I know personally and I look forward to chatting with. Even if you aren’t a newsroom escapee like me, you will find that meeting face to face periodically with journalists does wonders to develop and improve working relationships. Here are the benefits of setting aside to travel and turn digital relationships into real ones:
A real person to person relationship – You call, email and tweet these people regularly, right? Those means of communication have their place in PR. I do these things but they don’t foster trust or relationship growth the way a personal visit can. You can learn about personalities, preferences and fun little facts about people just by spending ten minutes at their desk with them.
A peek at behind the scenes drama– Think what you see on TV is dramatic? Try a peek at what these journalists go through in the day to day execution of their jobs. These visits never fail to remind me of how hard news people work and of the intense pressures they face. Technology and ratings strategies change but you can stay relevant if you take time to see and hear what makes an outlet really tick.
Low pressure now, big results later – This might sound strange to my scrappy PR friends but don’t hard pitch anything. You are their guest. It’s fine to mention an idea or two but don’t try to “sell” your host on anything. Don’t leave a stack of news releases. Don’t ask them to commit to coverage on anything right now. Instead, bring them treats - like you would to the hostess of a party. Make the kind of conversation you would at a social event. Ask about their lives, their goals, what stresses them out at work. Have a little fun! Show respect and tact on these meetings now and the coverage you are looking for will come later.
Future Friends - Don’t just focus on the person you went there to meet. When I visit a media outlet. I talk to everyone I can. It starts with being friendly to the security guard and receptionist. This open spirit continues throughout the building. Be friendly to photographers, production assistants and every person in the room. Some people can be blinded by the glamour of the on-air people they encounter. Trust me, having been one, I can tell you they do not do it alone. There is a whole supporting cast of smart people working with them. Express interest in these people today. Roles change fast in news. Tomorrow they may be the big fish you are pitching.
Overall, I recommend anyone wanting to make an impact in PR do media visits regularly. Make sure you are thinking long-term during these appointments. Don’t get hung up on the story you need to place today. Remember, you’re there to showcase how you can help the journalist as they serve their audience. If you can solve a problem for a busy journalist by helping them deliver for their viewers or readers often you’ll find you have achieved your own goals too.
MediaSource is a media relations and content production firm that specializes in brand journalism tactics. From news media coverage to consumer video tactics, MediaSource partners with the nation’s top hospitals and corporations to get their message to targeted audiences. MediaSource is best known for delivering brand buzz by amplifying messages across both earned media and company-owned media channels.