A version of this post originally appeared on Muck Rack.
So you have an executive or an expert coming to town for one day and you’ve lined up an amazing list of meet-and-greets. You’ve got the messaging down, business cards in your pocket and itinerary ready to go. But it doesn’t stop there. Execution is just as important as planning when it comes to a media tour – or so I’ve learned after planning and attending quite a few. For the pros about go on a media tour, here are nine secrets to success.
1. Prepare for every logistical scenario. When you’re out all day with a spokesperson, he or she relies on you for information, logistics and troubleshooting. Before you head out for the day, consider some of the tactical challenges you might run into: your phone dies, poor wifi connectivity, not having a hard copy of a report, inability to find a taxi and so on. Run through these in your head and make sure you have the tools with you: a phone charger, an itinerary with all of the details, a hot spot, printouts and Uber and Lyft.
2. Line up an office contact. There will likely be a reporter who’s looking for information that you might not have with you–but definitely have in the office. While you’re on the media tour, designate a go-to person for any requests that need to be shared while you’re on the road. This person can also respond to other urgent requests or inquiries that come through.
3. Build in extra time between meetings. While experts might tell you they want to do as many meetings in one day as possible, they’ll be thankful for some cushion in between to debrief and recharge. And you never know when the chemistry in the room will cause a meeting to run longer than scheduled, and you wouldn’t want to cut the conversation off short if you don’t have to.
4. List “Option B’s” for every location. Make sure to do detailed research on the area you’ll be in. Some cafes are too loud for meetings; some lines for lunch are just too long; sometimes you really need a coffee break. As long as you know the area, you should be able to quickly adapt. Sure, there’s Google Maps, but time (and quality coffee) is of the essence!
5. Take notes for fact-checking and content. If you work with many technical experts like I do, you know they have data, facts and research at their fingertips and can very easily talk to them in conversation. Fact-checking becomes essential to capture everything accurately, and if you have quality notes, you can confirm those facts and figures with reporters. Not only that, but when experts speak off the cuff, they mention tidbits that could be great as owned content. Pay close attention to those.
6. Build rapport with everyone. If you never thought you’d be spending eight hours with an expert, the media tour is your lucky day! I mean it – our jobs (not unlike many others) are dependent on the relationships we build, and a media tour is a day we get to leave our offices and grow our connections. Both with our company/client stakeholders and with reporters.
7. Know your executive’s red flags. I’ve done media tours with spokespeople who were great in media interviews. Inevitably, there would come one meeting where they were off their game. In those interviews, I learned their red flags: when they would be struggling to find the right words, remember research or data or their messaging. For PR pros, once we know those red flags, it’s easy to jump into the conversation and complement it with a follow-up or a redirection. Hey, everyone has bad days.
8. Follow up to any outstanding items. This goes back to the essential fact-checking, but also to solidify relationships. It could be a simple “thank you,” but following up to a meeting shows you’re willing to put in the effort to connect a company and the reporters who cover it.
9. Genuinely enjoy the day. Media tours take a lot of planning and preparation, serious commitment and a lot of time (and water!), but they’re a successful strategy to build relationships. If you have a positive outlook on the day, you’ll have a valuable experience.