If you are practicing public relations professional, you may have asked yourself this question once or twice in the last year or two. Is the deskside dead? I’m here to tell you that it’s very much alive and well.
I know, I know. PR pros today have a slew of tools and technologies at their fingertips to reach the right reporter at the right time with the right story. So why am I advocating that you incorporate an “old school” PR practice into your 21st century campaigns?
Before cell phones, text messages and emojis, people actually communicated by talking to each other. Insert Stuck_Out_Tongue_Winking_Eye.
In all seriousness, even with today’s advancing technologies nothing trumps a one-on-one, in-person meeting with a journalist. It’s a humbling experience and one that is well worth the investment.
Now, I am aware that journalism is changing and we as experts need to adapt. I’m not saying a deskside is the right fit for every journalist, but for the right scenario you and your client could reap the benefits for years to come for little upfront investment.
Think about it. We receive hundreds of emails daily and for journalists their inbox has become this black hole where PR pitches go to die. Sometimes, picking up the phone and asking to meet face-to-face at their office is the best way to go.
This was recently proven to be true after a two-day media mission to New York with my own clients. We sat down with editors and writers from Hearst and Condé Nast, securing future coverage in several magazines, not to mention I started building that almighty trusted, mutually beneficial relationship with top industry contacts.
Start by researching the journalist, publication and recent articles before picking up the phone. It’s no different than preparing for a phone pitch.
Be specific about what you are hoping to achieve from the meeting. This will help them prepare if they need to invite others to join.
Prepare a highly visual Slideshare and use it as a guide to direct the conversation.
If your client is joining the deskside, practice together so you each have clearly defined roles.
During the deskside, lead the conversation and ask questions (e.g., Is this of interest? When do you cover stories like these? What is your lead-time?).
Watch the clock and be respectful of everyone’s time.
Ask their preference for follow-up.
Send a handwritten thank you, it goes a long way.
And keep in mind, what is public relations without relationships anyway? It is still the core of everything we do so don’t underestimate the power of face-to-face meetings and put the deskside to work for you in 2016.