4. Securing appointments – be persistent but not annoying!
It’s easy to secure appointments with editors with whom you have a good rapport; it’s much more difficult to get them with those you don’t know. This is why having relevant information is important because usually an editor will listen and consider it when you do get them on the line. I usually send an email recap of what I want to meet with them about and then follow up with a phone call. If I get their voicemail, I leave a message, knowing that I’ll have to keep trying to get them live on the phone. I always chuckle to myself when a junior PR executive complains that they haven’t been able to secure editorial appointments because the editor won’t call them back. Editors receive hundreds of calls and emails per week; they don’t always have time to call you back, especially if they are the editor for a department. When that’s the case, I’ll call an assistant or associate editor (in that same department) to schedule appointments because I’ll invite them as well as their boss– this can sometimes ensure if one of them has to cancel, you’ll still be in front of the other one. And, don’t eschew meetings with “just the associate editor” or with interns – I met with an intern only once and she ended up having a lot of clout (because of the skeletal staffs now) and we received nice coverage.
5. Plan carefully what message you want to convey, but keep it simple.
It’s very rare that an editor will have more than a half hour block to meet with you. So, you need to be concise and cognizant of their time. About half of the editors I meet with conduct the “meeting” on the waiting couches in their lobby! Meeting space at publications is typically limited, so your chance to hook up and present a 40-slide power point presentation is not going to happen. You need to know your talking points by heart. I’ve seen many PR pros caught off guard and tongue tied because they planned to go off of the power point and didn’t bother to really know the content. Make sure you respect the editor’s time – don’t drone on and on and go over the time limit. Also, be sure to define roles with your client; for instance, you’ll do the introduction and take notes and they’ll give the demonstration.
6. Always be prepared for Plan B.
Editors are busy and things come up. It’s likely one will cancel or try to push back a meeting time. Accept that this will occur and be flexible if your schedule permits. If an editor does cancel and you cannot reschedule, still let them know that you’re going to drop off the press kit materials and product sample (if applicable). For good measure, I like to get a dozen cupcakes from the Magnolia Bakery (several locations in Manhattan) and drop them off with the kits. They will remember that! And always follow up with them to make sure they received your package – sometimes things (cupcakes 😉 can end up in the wrong hands and you want to get credit for that).
7. The follow-up is sometimes more important than the meeting!
Within a day or two of returning back to the office, send a thank you note (or email) with a recap of what you talked about in the meeting and any next steps that need to occur, such as sending more information or other product samples. Pay close attention in your meeting and take judicious notes for your client so that you can follow up at various times with any news or information that they spoke of or that you know would be of interest to them. Usually, the magazines have anywhere from 4-6 month lead times so you can check up on them occasionally to see if they’ve spoken with their boss and what might be covered in what future issue. To keep yourself top of mind without badgering them, email them any useful follow up information or suggestions for another angle. Just remember – there is finesse to media relations – badgering editors is not part of that. Your goal is not just editorial coverage, but a lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with the editor.
Oh and one more thing, make sure you visit an ATM and bring cash for cab rides and tips in NYC – you don’t want to stick your client with those.