For those who came of public relations age in an era when “desk-side visits” to editors ensconced in high-ceilinged offices in midtown Manhattan were the key component of media outreach, the answer to the question “how to conduct a media tour?” has evolved radically over the past few decades.
A media tour today is still an important tactic in executing a PR strategy, but it is not a be-all or end-all in itself. First of all, the notion of going to New York City for such a “tour” is unlikely to be necessary for all but a few industries, such as fashion, retail or finance. The citadels of journalism along 6th Avenue have largely emptied out or at least changed enough so that they are no longer must-visit locations.
Today, media tours are more likely conducted using one or more of the following channels:
- PHONE — through a call-in conference call or a series of back-to-back interviews scheduled with target media;
- ONLINE– via a webinar-type event featuring visuals and audio or written exchanges;
- RADIO — through a series of live or recorded phone interviews with stations in multiple markets; and/or
- TV — offering live (big budget) satellite interviews (and b-roll, if available) to stations in multiple markets.
A lot of effort and expectation go into media tours, so they should only be conducted when the likelihood is VERY high that invited media will participate (is this really a “stop the presses!” or “boy bites dog” kind of story?) Once this is assured, preparation becomes key: specifically, how well trained and versed is the spokesperson?
Additionally, questions like third party participation, visuals, background info and follow-up are important. Then, what kind of tracking is in place? Is there a “rippling” strategy in place to multiply the media hits via social media, emails, online media comments, etc.?
There are many working parts to a media tour, but if done correctly and comprehensively, it can have an enormous impact on a product or initiative launch, a thought leadership or advocacy campaign, etc. Our best advice: if you’ve never done a media tour or are understaffed for one, get help!