As a public relations tactic, press tours create excellent opportunities to build relationships with target media. Press tours are designed to get you in front of selected, influential members of the press for face-to-face conversations that can increase the chances of positioning your company for coverage in the media.
In many instances, a press tour can be organized in conjunction with your company's attendance at a trade show or industry conference. Regardless of the timing and setting, there are five tactics that make any press tour successful.
1. Leverage Relationships As soon as you decide to initiate a press tour, make a list of all the editors and reporters you and/or your public relations agency have relationships with in the area you plan on touring. Call them first. An existing relationship -- no matter how slight -- significantly shortens the pitch process. You spend less time introducing yourself and the company, and building credibility.
2. Don't be Afraid to Leave the Office Meeting with reporters and editors on their turf can be a deciding factor in conducting an informational interview because top journalists are often very busy (and not necessarily motivated to meet you). Offering to meet at his or her office will create goodwill with that reporter or editor, paying dividends beyond the initial encounter.
As reporters have busy, unpredictable schedules, don't make a meeting more work for them than it has to be.
3. Bring the Big Guns Admittedly, it's not always possible to have your CEO, president, or other top executives participate in every press tour. However, if the targets are particularly influential in your market -- and senior management is willing -- bring the big guns. Reporters spend their lives talking to marketing folks. Face time with the CEO or president is very enticing. You may be surprised by how many jump at the opportunity.
4. Be Sure You Have a "Why" It's not always necessary to have breaking news. Part of the reason for a press tour is to "meet and greet" the press and give them access to company executives, so they know who to turn to when news happens.
However, don't expect to get time with a reporter if you can't answer the following question: "Why should I meet with your company, now?"
More than likely you will need to provide some appropriate incentive to meet, such as a product demonstration, discussion of upcoming plans/developments, or a hard news story, if one exists. Reporters need a compelling reason to meet with you.
5. The Devil IS in the Details Murphy's Law is always in effect during a press tour. It's one thing to organize a tour where you are headquartered but quite another in a strange city. Keep in mind that traffic and construction may cause delays. Be sure to leave plenty of time to get from one meeting to the next. Take nothing for granted.
A successful press tour can jump start your company's public relations presence and position you as a leading media resource. Relationships formed through a successful press tour will not only result in potential article coverage for your company, but will set the stage for future press attention. Remember to think strategically, prepare vigorously, and your press tour will exceed expectations.
Marc Hausman is president and CEO of Strategic Communications Group, Inc., a public relations agency serving technology, IT services, telecommunications, and professional services companies. Strategic represents both publicly traded and privately-held mid-market firms, business lines or divisions of Global 2000 companies, and emerging players in growth-oriented industries. The firm has productized a Network of Relationships to facilitate client business goals. Contact Marc at email@example.com.