Embrace Face Time: Tips for Making the Most of an In-Person Meeting

reporter's notebook

Write a pitch. Email it to as many reporters as possible. See if anyone bites, then move on. In the world of digital communication and instant connections, this has become the media outreach strategy for many organizations.

Not so for the savvy PR pro. He/she knows that the chances of catching the attention of a busy, in-demand reporter with an email are becoming slimmer by the day and that nothing compares to in-person face time.

Landing that face-to-face meeting with a journalist is just one part of the task at hand. After you've set up time to meet with the reporter you're trying to pitch, it's time for some serious preparation. To help get ready for a face-to-face sit-down, Meredith Pratt, account manager at Stanton Communications, Inc. and a contributor to PR News' Media Relations Guidebook Vol. 2, provides us with 5 tips for making the most of an in-person briefing:

  • Do your research. Read the publication before you meet with the editor. Look for specific sections where you feel your client and pitch may be a good fit and read the type of stories the publication focuses on.
  • Keep it short. Reporters are taking time out of their schedules to meet. Do not belabor the meeting or the editor will regret agreeing to it. Stick to 20 or 30 minutes at most.
  • Go to them. Schedules are busier than ever. Time outside of the office is rare. Don’t ask reporters to come to you. Instead, go to them, whether that’s the publication’s office or somewhere convenient for the editor to meet. You’ve requested the meeting, not the editor, so it’s important to meet halfway.
  • Ask questions. In-person briefings can be incredible PR education tools. It’s time with a reporter you may not otherwise receive. Use it wisely. Ask as many questions as you can about the publication’s deadlines, how and when the editor would like to receive information, what the editor is planning on covering and what interests he/she has.
  • Act naturally. Above all, an in-person meeting with a reporter is a conversation. Do not bring a PowerPoint presentation or launch into why a product/pitch is the best they’ve ever seen. Ask questions first and let them ask questions of you. Use the time you have to establish that rapport. It will only help you build a better relationship later.

For more media relations tips, best practices and case studies, check out PR News' Media Relations Guidebook Vol. 2.

Follow Brian Greene: @bwilliamgreene