Earlier this week I set up a full day of deskside meetings for one of my clients.
Essentially, desksides are one-on-one meetings with reporters at media outlets where a brand or executive wants to get coverage. We typically look to book a deskside appointment when a client is launching a new product, making an announcement that warrants the one-on-one or simply to introduce an executive or brand to a particular outlet and/or reporter.
These meetings, which can last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour (longer meetings are rare), are an important part of our firm’s media relations strategy because they greatly increase opportunities for coverage, especially for some of our lesser known clients.
If you’re not scheduling face time with the reporters who cover your client’s industry; start now. Here are some of the benefits that deskside meetings provide:
1. In person meetings are gold when it comes to building familiarity and trust.
Even with all of the technological advances we have that keep us connected 24/7, there is still nothing that beats face-to-face communication when you’re looking to build meaningful relationships or connections. Pitch emails and phone interviews are great, but in-person meetings allow you to build familiarity and trust a lot quicker and can help cement your place on a reporter’s radar.
Newsroom staff cuts and increased coverage responsibility also eat up a good amount of a reporter’s time, so if you notice that they decline invitations to events or pressers often, don’t hesitate to bring the show directly to them.
2. You can guarantee that for a set amount of time, the reporter is focused only on you and/or your product.
Calls can be sent to voicemail, emails can be neglected or discarded and packages with products can sit unopened for days or weeks. A deskside appointment affords you the chance to have a reporter’s undivided attention for a set period of time which can be a priceless opportunity for you to get them interested in whatever it is you’re selling.
3. Opportunity for thought leadership.
Unlike email or phone outreach, face-to-face meetings really give you a better chance to demonstrate your passion, enthusiasm and expertise for your product or story, which can help you position yourself as an expert source or thought leader for a particular topic.
4. You can meet more than one editor or reporter at a time.
At any given time you could be pitching different stories or projects for the same client to 3 to 5 different reporters or editors at a publication. For example, you could be working with the print team on a feature that will run a few months down the road, a blogger who needs images for a post that’s going up tomorrow or a video/visual content team to go over script ideas for an upcoming video series.
Deskside appointments are a great way to bring everyone together at once (FYI, you always want to be transparent when you’re pitching more than one person at an outlet) to establish a rapport with the client and to discuss the best way to leverage the content across platforms, etc.
5. If the reporter leaves the publication, you won’t have to restart the relationship.
Lately, there’s been a ton of turnover in the media industry with reporters jumping from publication to publication, getting promoted up the masthead or leaving to start their own media ventures. If you’ve been focused on building relationships all along this won’t be such a big deal because you’ll have a connection or an “in” with that person no matter where they go.
Placing a high priority on building relationships has paid off handsomely for our clients in the past, especially when people get promoted to decision-making roles because they’ll remember who took the time to get to know them and will often contact you first if there’s a relevant opportunity.
Ultimately, scheduling some one-on-one time with your clients and the writers that cover their industry can drastically increase your chances of getting media coverage. So the next time, you feel like you’re getting no where with your current pitch strategy, reach out to a reporter and request a deskside meeting.