5 Tips for a Great Desk Side Meeting with Media (and What to do Next)

If you’ve been following along these last few weeks you know all about setting up editor meetings, called desk-sides. We’ve covered why these in-person meetings are such an important of public relations, and how to go about scheduling a desk-side. The last piece of the puzzle is what to expect during the meeting, and what to do next. As discussed, the primary purpose of desk sides is to put a face to the name. In other words, you want your media contacts to know who you are when your e-mail pitches land in their inbox. You might think that once an editor or journalist has agreed to meet you in person and you’ve bonded over your mutual love of moscato, that the relationship is solid gold. But to really maximize the face time, make sure you are prepared with a strategy for both the meeting and how you plan to stay connected one you are back behind a screen.

Bring agency materials

You wouldn’t show up for an interview without a few printed copies of your resume, and the same stands for your meeting with media. Bring business cards, a promotional agency postcard, client list, and any additional marketing materials about your your PR firm to your desk side. The more information you can leave with your contact the better. Also, you don’t want to spend the whole meeting just pitching your clients, so takeaway materials are a great way to ensure they can peruse this information later on. Make sure to invest in materials that effectively communicate your agency brand personality and key areas of expertise. In the same way you counsel your clients to have a cohesive visual brand identity, bring materials that will just further set you apart from all the other PR firms that are only sending e-mails.

Ask plenty of questions

It’s tempting to take advantage of a reporter’s full attention to focus on sharing as much as you can about your great client roster, but trust me, this kind of hard sell rarely works in your favor. Your contact understands that the purpose of the meeting is to get to know one another for mutual benefit, so let that happen naturally. Instead, use the talents you typically use when evaluating a new client opportunity and come prepared with questions that will help you become a trusted ally and resource for your new contact. Ask them what what kinds of stories/guests they are looking for right now, ask them what type of story would they love to do, ask them any of the questions PR Couture loves to ask editors in our How to Pitch series!

You also want to get to know them as people – do they love to travel, are they newlywed, love Zumba or Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings? Building a business relationship isn’t just about filling pages in a magazine, it’s also about authentic conversations and connection so consider it a good sign if the conversation heads in that direction.

Send an immediate thank you

Immediately after the meeting send a short and sweet thank you and any quick follow-up items (the email for your hairstylist, the florist for their sister’s upcoming wedding). This shows that you are appreciative, reminds them of your e-mail address and keeps you top of mind. If the meeting went extra well, consider going a step  further with some freshly-baked cookies from the local bakery or organic coffee beans. There is no such thing as being too nice! It will always pay off.

Follow up with a pitch

After learning what your contact is currently working on, send over a pitch that addresses these needs, but only if you have something that’s really a fit. Continue to send personal e-mails, highlighting what you know about what they need. Avoid sending generic press releases and pitches. You’ve made it beyond the blast, and it’s up to you to send the right story ideas and client products their way.

Keep the momentum going

One coffee date isn’t enough for a lasting relationship so make it a priority to meet your core contacts on a regular basis. I have a group of editors/writers that I try to check in with every quarter and honestly, I find these meetings one of the best parts of my job. It is nice to take time away from my computer to see what everyone is working on. Even if you aren’t able to meet up for awhile, continue to send event invites, a new gluten-free pumpkin bread recipe for your new fashion blogger who’s a secret foodie, a bluegrass duet that is right up their ally…you get the picture.

Since relationships are the most important asset you can have as a publicist, it is worth putting aside the time to have desk side meetings on a regular basis. Any other questions about desk sides? Leave a comment!



About This Author

Rebekah Epstein is the founder of fifteen media, an agency that works exclusively with PR firms to streamline media relations in a digital era. She specializes in business, lifestyle, fashion and beauty. Rebekah also blogs about all things Gen Y at NeonNotebook.com.