Issue of Coastal Living

In Your Face PR – the Value of a Good Desk Side Meeting

In the public relations industry, with technology available to us 24/7, it’s easy to forget that face-to-face interactions with media still matter – and if anything, they matter even more than ever before. From shrinking newsrooms to tighter budgets, media members are tasked with covering even more news, but with even less resources at their fingertips.

From a PR perspective, we have a tendency to get too self-reliant on email and the occasional phone call to pitch and keep media up-to-date on our clients. As much as we all like to believe that every email pitch we send is groundbreaking, most likely that’s not the case. As much as you have a great story to tell for your client, you can’t depend on breaking through the clutter that is an inbox to make that impression.

Besides just doing the basics, you need to do your research. Google them. Read their articles and play in their space. What are their likes? Dislikes? Cover the basics of PR.

Beyond the basics PR tactics, you also need to leverage your ability to tell your story in person. This is where desk-sides and in-person meetings come into play. These casual settings provide the opportunity for your client and agency to solidify the value you can bring to the table.

Although time consuming, and sometimes travel expenses are associated with these in-person meetings, the effort and its results are invaluable. No other medium will deliver the message quite like word of mouth and eye contact.

For example, this summer, we scheduled a meeting with Coastal Living’s editorial team for a client. Now mind you, this is an outlet we continue to communicate with through email and phone calls, so we know they are getting our client’s news and updates. They know who we are. However, we had not yet made the personal connection for the client that this desk side with the editors allowed. From handshakes and breakfast, to story telling and plenty of Q&A, the desk side provided the perfect opportunity to have an open audience that could digest our client’s message and potential for interesting content. It also helped us share our client’s message in a more ‘real’ manner with the inclusion of first-hand stories, local products and offerings, as well as a few laughs.

The real goal of these in-person meetings is to lay the groundwork for future coverage and relationships. To help those media members tell your story and to increase the chances that your client will be included in future coverage and editorial calendar plans. We’re planting the seed for a beautiful “love fern” (yes, that was a “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” reference.)

And then, the true fruits of your labor should unveil themselves. You’ll find that desk sides allow you to soften your pitches and get the responses you’re looking for – positive coverage for your client. You make the transition from a hard sell to a valued partner. And a valued partner gets their voicemails returned, their emails responded to, and more importantly, their story ideas transformed into tangible media coverage for your client.

And on that note, we’re looking forward to seeing our client, the one we coordinate that Coastal Living meeting for, featured in more issues to come. We’ve helped lay that invaluable groundwork and have strengthened our relationships with a variety of editors at the magazine. This is something that an email or phone call could never accomplish. We made it personal.

Do you use these PR tactics? What other PR tactics have you had success with? Drop a comment below!