Despite the current array of online and social media channels with which we can communicate with media, there are still times when it’s important to meet with them face-to-face. I believe it’s beneficial to keep yourself and clients in front of editors on a regular basis in order to establish and maintain a good rapport and a professional relationship that’s mutually beneficial.
Tours are preferred if your client has a new product that’s very demonstrative and/or is also the first of its kind in the industry. If it’s a complex product, it’s advantageous to meet with media in person to show them all the features and benefits of the product, and why their audience would be interested. It also helps them put a face with a name, so when you call or email them in the future, they’ll likely remember you.
Much of my career has been spent promoting an array of housewares and household products – from vacuum cleaners to painting tapes and supplies to DIY caulks and adhesives. I’ve worked closely with home editors at national consumer women’s magazines, parenting, and home shelter publications, most of which are headquartered at major publishing houses in New York City (with the exception of Meredith’s Better Homes & Gardens and its special interest publications which are in Des Moines). Most of the products I’ve represented target women, whom we called the CHOs or Chief Household Officers.
With the exception of a few publications that have recently shut down (Parenting, Baby Talk), much of these publications aren’t going anywhere though they are stretching smaller staffs with more responsibilities. This makes editors’ time sparse and precious which means you need to be very strategic when planning out your tour.
Here are some tips for getting appointments, having successful meetings and setting the tone for your client’s brand to get media coverage down the line.
1. If it isn’t new, at least make sure your “news” is relevant and interesting to that editor’s audience.
New products in general can be newsworthy in and of themselves. When I worked for a vacuum cleaner manufacturer, we came out with several upright vacuum cleaners that made it first to market with unique and convenient, new features. However, keep in mind that a change in color or model number is not newsworthy – in that case you can get away with an emailed news release. Also, consumer editors typically don’t find useful or relevant, industry data such as how many units were sold or the company’s market share or growth. Having relevant content and news gives you a better chance of securing an appointment with an editor.
2. Put yourself in that editor’s shoes and think of what info is important to him or her.
Besides having relevant information to the editor’s particular beat, make sure that you put yourself in their shoes and understand what would help make their job a little easier. First, do your research and know their columns, writing styles and what they usually cover. In addition to a straight new product release, I also like to include tips for using that product and/or ideas of how to include the product in a wider theme. Help them come up with a feature story angle. For example, a new air purifier product requires a news release, but I know it’s rare to get a feature article written just about that product. So, I’ll focus on a broader theme such as Spring Allergy Solutions or Indoor Air Quality in which I can research good stats from reputable agencies (like the CDC or EPA) and make a case for why an air purifier is part of a solution for allergy sufferers. The product may not be the “star” of the article, but its relevance and importance in a broader topic gives it even more credibility and likelihood for coverage.
3. Strategically plan out your appointments so that you give yourself plenty of time to avoid frustrations that could impact your presentation.
Most of the editorial publishing headquarters are located in a fairly compact radius in mid-town Manhattan. In many cases, a number of the publications you may be meeting with will be at the same address, but on different floors. Hearst (located on 8th Avenue & 57th) houses magazines such as Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Country Living, O, and House Beautiful among others. Planning appointments at Hearst always saves me some time because I can schedule appointments only 15 minutes apart (note that you will need to keep going back downstairs to the lobby after each appointment and go through security for your next appointment). However, if you’re going from Hearst to say “Ladies Home Journal,” which is located more downtown on Park Avenue, you’ll need to schedule at least a half hour – time to grab a cab, travel and get registered at the security desk. I like to use car services which are both time and cost-effective.