As I mentioned last week, setting up desk side meetings with your media contacts should be part of your regular routine as a publicist. Face-to-face interaction is extremely important to building long lasting relationships, which will result in more media placements for your clients.
So now that we know why desk sides are necessary, we will talk about how to set them up. It can be nerve wracking to ask a journalist for their time, especially when you they are busy and most likely on tight deadlines. However, most of the time, editors/writers enjoy meeting with publicists, and see it as part of their job.
Below are the steps to setting up a desk side meeting:
Reach out to contacts you have previously worked with
I never try to set up media meetings with someone that I haven’t worked with before in some way shape or form. Focus on building the relationships that you already have. If they have already placed one of your clients, then chances are they will be more likely to meet with you. They know you are legitimate and are working with interesting people.
Make it known that you aren’t looking for a lot of time
It is a fact: everyone is busy. We are all hesitant to meet with people that we think will take up a lot of our time. When reaching out to schedule a desk side, say something to the effect of: I would just like a few minutes of your time. From the beginning, you are showing that you are respectful of the journalist’s time. They know you are not going to come into the meeting, and spend hours pitching your clients. I think that if they know this from the beginning, your contact is more likely to meet with you in person.
Suggest a few dates/times
If you specify a few dates/times that you are available, then there won’t be so much back and forth trying to schedule an interview. This is a great time saving tip. Your media contact will let you know if any of those times work for them, and if not they will suggest additional options. The easier you can make the scheduling, the better.
Pick a convenient location
Offer to meet at a location that is convenient to your contact. If I am trying to meet with someone, I always suggest places for lunch or coffee that are near their office. Also, somewhere in my e-mail I mention that I am available to stop by their office if that is easiest. Most of the time, journalists don’t necessarily have the time to leave their office, so it might be easier if you just stop by where they are working.
When setting up media meetings, know that you might have to be flexible. And by that I mean reschedule. When breaking news happens, I have had press contacts have to re-schedule/cancel meetings at the last minute. It can be frustrating, but don’t show your contacts that you are frustrated. Instead, offer to meet them at a different time/day. It will get you nowhere if you show that you are angry.
As always, just remember to be polite and accommodating, it will definitely get your further in PR. Since you are setting up desk sides to further your relationships (the cornerstones of your career), you don’t want to do anything to offset that goal.
Photo Credit: bobbi vie