It’s all very well talking to journalists via email or grabbing a couple of minutes with them on the phone, but often, the personal approach is much more fruitful.
At Tank PR, we’re not in the habit of slapping out any old news story and testing just how many emails you can cram into the BCC box in the desperate hope that somebody will use it. Many of us, including myself, have worked in the media, and we know that this isn’t the way to a journalist’s heart and, more importantly, it will do very little for your client.
A bespoke approach is much more beneficial for both parties. Spending time getting to know your media contacts, how they work, what they get excited about and what leaves them cold is a sure fire way to grab the headlines.
This is why we frequently spend days in London meeting with journalists, and this week, we were there to chat to consumer finance editors at the nationals to introduce them to one of our biggest clients.
The humble desk visit is perhaps one of the most underused techniques in PR. One of the most crucial tools for any PR person to have is a bulging contacts book and if you don’t spend time or see the importance of nurturing those key people, then you should quite frankly be writing your own PR eulogy.
‘Desk visit’ isn’t a cryptic code for a boozy, air / ass-kissing lunch. If you’re a PR person who has done their research, then you’ll know that national journalists are stretched to capacity and don’t have big teams behind them. They are under pressure to fill pages and often, they are flying solo.
The reality is that you have a 20min window of the journalist’s time. It’s not about the hard sell and cramming in all of your key messages without pausing for breath. It’s about using that time wisely, understanding their needs and showing how you and your client can help.
If you don’t have a genuine understanding of the media and what is or isn’t newsworthy then you may as well start packing your desk now. Any good journalist will certainly see straight through you.
The savvy amongst us will go armed with a list of newsworthy ideas to bounce off the journalist and you’ll often find these can be refined and developed during the course of the visit or stem other ideas that leave said journalist scribbling frantically in shorthand. Have an understanding of their readership, be prepared to offer them something different but relevant and also be prepared to offer exclusivity when needed.
Get it right, and you’ll end up with a much more impressive piece of coverage for your client. A NIB generated by a bog standard press release isn’t worth hyperventilating about – a bespoke feature that you’ve worked in conjunction with a journalist and your client to produce is!
We followed these golden rules on our recent round of desk visits and came back with 5+ extensive features.
Two very tired Tank PR directors, but one happy client.