Why would a time-starved journalist make the time to accept an in-person meeting when they could just as easily get information from you by phone or email?
That was the question that came in various forms during the virtual training meeting I held for my Inner Circle members this week.
We heard from two Inner Circle members who are making media visits work:
– Maureen Carrig has conducted five media trips over the past 12 months for her large company to top-tier business press. One of those trips alone has yielded articles in the WSJ, USAT, AP, Bloomberg and counting.
– Jane Putnam works for a scrappy consumer tech startup and booked visits for her CEO with CNBC, Good Housekeeping, Fit Pregnancy and Parents. They took a redeye to New York, went straight into the visits, and flew home that night – a 24-hour trip with no sleep. It paid off, as the CEO was an in-studio guest on CNBC a few weeks later, among other placements.
Maureen and Jane generously shared the planning timelines, briefing book tips, and actual email pitches they used for these successes.
But still the question kept popping up: why would busy influencers accept a meeting invitation?
And I understand. We see journalists on Twitter all the time expressing how full their schedules are, and occasionally criticizing the way some PR people approach them. Plus, when you take the question at face value, there ISN’T any reason why a busy reporter, editor or producer would block out time for a meeting when they could just get the information by email or even phone.
To find the answer, you look deeper than that question.
These busy influencers aren’t taking the meeting to get information. They’re taking the meeting to begin a relationship. They’re looking beyond an immediate story and realizing that the executives Maureen and Jane are connecting them with will be valuable resources in the long run.
There’s another layer to this, too. Maureen and Jane didn’t say this, but after I reviewed their outreach in detail over the past couple weeks, I observed that they provided so much value THEMSELVES that the influencers – consciously or subconsciously – must have realized, “She’s got it together. She’s helping me do my job better. If she thinks I should meet this guy, I’m going to do it if I can.”
These two PR pros thought of every little reason why their sources and their companies mesh with these journalists’ goals, and communicated that with just the right balance of helpfulness and tenacity.
In short, the way that you see journalists taking the time to do things they don’t normally do – talk on the phone, accept meetings, thank you for sending five follow-up emails (true story) – is to know their needs so well that you can provide unmistakable value.
That’s when you shift in their minds from a faceless “PR person” – or even “flack” – to a valuable “source” they look forward to meeting.