Best Practices: In-Person Press Meetings

By Matter

It’s amazing what the benefit of face-to-face contact can have when building a relationship. Getting the opportunity to have face-time with the press is an invaluable opportunity when you work in PR. So, when I had the chance to attend the New Products Holiday Gift Guide Event last week for my client, Vermont Nut Free Chocolates, I knew that it would benefit my career and my client as well.

Pitching is one of the most enjoyable parts of your job as a PR professional. Ask anyone in PR about their best-practices for pitching and you’re guaranteed to get a number of tips and tricks for getting your client’s story in their target publication. Let’s face it, it’s why we got into PR in the first place and it’s the thing we grade our performance on regularly. While most of our time pitching is spent crafting email pitches and conducting follow up calls, it’s always a welcomed change when you can put technology aside and just have good ole fashioned verbal conversation.

Below is a list of my best-practices when holding an in-person press meeting.

  • Keep the pitch short and sweet: You may be under pressure, but it’s important to still start the meeting with an elevator pitch about your client. That being said, keep it short and sweet. Starting your conversation with a long pitch will feel unnatural and leave the journalist feeling overwhelmed. Instead, stick to a quick background of 2-3 sentences and then turn the conversation to the journalist. This can be done by asking what they are most interested in or what they are looking for.
  • Keep the journalists’ agenda in mind: We all know how busy journalists are. They didn’t take time away from their desk to see a product or service without the goal of finding a story angle. By asking key questions like what their deadline is or how they like to be pitched you can help move the conversation along and show the person that you’re meeting with that you’re there to make their job easier.
  • Learn when to stop: Are you feeling a disconnect from the person your meeting with? You’re probably not alone. Don’t be pushy if the journalist seems uninterested. Offer one more opportunity to open the conversation and move on. There’s always a chance to follow up post-event, but if you’re too pushy you run the risk of losing your contact’s interest entirely leaving you back at step one.
  • Remember they’re human: Don’t be afraid to have a conversation beyond your client’s product. If you share something in common, talk about it! This will leave the journalist remembering you and chances are will greatly improve your luck when pitching that person later.

When I held my first press meetings, I remember how nervous I was. But like most things, the more you do it the easier it gets. What are your best practices for holding in-person press meetings?