The public relations industry is constantly evolving, but even with new technologies and a changing media landscape, one tried and true tactic continues to be beneficial: the good old fashion media tour. I’m not talking about satellite media tours (SMTs) where we arrange back-to-back interviews from a studio or on-site location. While SMTs have many benefits — including being able to conduct multiple interviews in one day from one location, thus eliminating travel expenses and the time needed to conduct a tour — I’m referring to the act of traveling with our clients for a series of sit down, face-to-face meetings or on-camera interviews with journalists. While media tours such as these take a lot of leg work, they are a great opportunity to build invaluable relationships with the media.
NST just wrapped up two such media tours (one in English and one in Spanish) for the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program. In total, we conducted more than 40 media briefings/interviews throughout the state of California, and while the days can be grueling — often starting as early as 4 a.m. for morning show interviews and ending late after traveling a long distance between two cities — the benefits are worth it. We’ve been conducting media tours for CPDPP for several years, which has resulted in the development great relationships with print, TV and radio outlets throughout the state.
Tips for a successful tour:
- Media training is key – Conducting many interviews in a short time frame can be taxing, even for the most skilled spokesperson. Ensuring a media tour spokesperson is well trained is key to a good tour, and ensures the last interview has just as much energy as the first.
- Know your geography – We often book tours on a tight schedule, so it’s critical to know the areas in which you will be traveling, including the travel time between two cities and alternate routes to get to a destination. If you are traveling through a large city, know the traffic patterns and anticipate delays as much as possible.
- Confirm, then re-confirm interviews – Journalists are busy people, and while an interview may have already been confirmed, it’s always a good idea to re-confirm the day prior to the interview. This will ensure the journalist is ready at the specified time, and the tour stays on schedule.
- Be a resource – Remember that not all interviews will result in an immediate story – and that’s OK. One of the biggest benefits of a media tour building relationships with the media. After getting face time with a spokesperson, reporters are more receptive to important news from the spokesperson’s organization in the future. For example, when we call a reporter who we’ve met with on the CPDPP tour, they make sure and take the call.
- Create a “story in a box” – Including photos, videos, background sheets and news releases in one central location will make sure media contacts have everything they could possibly need for a story. Having all the creative and background elements in place, will make developing a story easier for journalists.
- Get creative – For some clients, we conduct media tours annually, but no media outlet wants to do the same story twice. That means, we have to be creative in our pitches. How can we put a new angle on our story? Are there new interview opportunities we can present? Can we create a hyper-local angle? These are just a few of the questions we should ask ourselves when planning a tour.
With crowded email in-boxes and countless voice mail pitches being left for journalists, media tours such as the one described above can help set brands and organizations apart by creating relationships that are often more easily fostered via face-to-face meetings.