There are a lot of ways to get PR for clients. One of the older but truer ways is the media tour concept, which has changed over the years but remains a good way to get attention for clients.
It used to be the press would come to you (a.k.a. the press conference); nowadays it is more of you going to the press – whether it is in person, via satellite or a combination of both.
If you or your client wants to do a media tour, first think if what you have to say will resonate with local or regional media. Look at targeting cities or states where your client has a connection or a reason to be there. If you or the client doesn't see that, then the media won’t either.
Think of this as a way to expand your brand or your client's brand to a city or cities where it has not been before or a place where it could use some higher profile. But make the reason for going to the market strong – a new initiative with regional interest, something about jobs or a new product, something quirky, or a new book. Don’t just say your client will be in X or Y; give the press a news hook.
For example, is the client a well-known corporate executive, a former area executive, a previous resident who made an impact? Is this a national news hook that local media would be interested in? Or does their expertise have a purely local angle?
In localizing your pitch and your press kit materials, get familiar with the local media outlets and the reporters and producers. Additionally, you need to hire a local media escort to take the client around to local interviews.
One way to get the tour kick-started is to have speaking engagements at events or conferences. It's best if the client has a keynote or major speaking role; that way you can tell the press to interest them in an interview or even invite them to attend the event.
Events can be at corporate headquarters, local corporate associations, Chambers of Commerce, colleges and universities, groups tied into the community or local corporations, local publications and book signings/readings. Often, these groups know local media so they can be of help in that way, too.
These events give the local media a reason to say, “Hey, we might want to cover this person.”
In mapping out the media tour, think of local newspapers, their web sites, bloggers, podcasts, local magazines, radio, local TV, local NPR affiliates as well as some national media in studio. Some national TV shows, for example, want the expert or person being interviewed to be in their studio – not doing a remote appearance so that may mean a trip to a different city. There are also options with syndicated radio, web radio and business shows.
Another way to do a media tour is to put together a Satellite Media Tour (SMT). Look for a PR agency that specializes in these and knows the local and regional media markets. These SMTs can entail the client taking four or so hours sitting in a studio doing morning drive interviews one after the other. Doing these provides an efficient way to hit a bunch of regional media all at once and cuts down on the cost and hassle of travel.
A couple of tips here: Make sure the client has had media training for an intense series of interviews like the SMT. Also, ask the studio to provide plenty of water so their voice holds up.
Once the tour – either in person or the SMT – is all set you will need to confirm and reconfirm all the logistics and details. And there will be lots of those to double-check. Make sure the client has a copy of the full schedule.
Most of the time, these tours end up going fine. But once in a while, something can go wrong.
I once had a client on an out-of-town media tour who had a great piece run on him in the local Sunday business section in advance of a speech he was giving the next day. The problem was the reporter totally mangled his last name in the story. Everything else was perfect!
It was a whoops moment for the client's ego, and he had nothing better to do on a Sunday morning than call me to complain about the wrong name. I had to hop on the phone and call the paper to get a correction.
The rest of the media tour went well, and the mistake was soon forgotten.
Andrew Blum is a PR consultant and media trainer and principal of AJB Communications. He has directed PR for professional services and financial services firms, NGOs, agencies and other clients. As a PR executive, and formerly as a journalist, he has been involved on both sides of the media aisle in some of the most media intensive crises of the past 25 years. Contact him at Ablum4@aol.com or follow him on Twitter: @ajbcomms.