To someone in his or her first year of PR, pitching reporters can often be nerve-wracking or downright scary. I recall my first time picking up the phone to speak with an editor and trying as hard as I could to not freeze and hang up the phone. Last week I was given the opportunity to attend PDN’s PhotoPlus Expo (PPE) in New York City to support some of Matter’s clients in the Digital Imaging Group. PhotoPlus is one of the largest photography imaging shows in North America and is a time for companies in the photography industry to showcase their latest products. It’s also a chance for us in PR to schedule meetings with attending press to visit our client’s booths.
During the expo it was time to do what PR professionals do best, work with the press and manage the relationship between them and our clients. With press meetings filling most of my day, there was no time to let my nerves get the best of me. Below are five tips I learned from managing press meetings at PPE.
- Know Who You’re Meeting and When – Having a detailed schedule of who you’re meeting and when will help you be prepared when it comes time to introduce yourself to the reporter. Chances are you’ll see them before they see you, but when the opposite happens you’ll be able to respond to the reporter effectively without a pause or awkward stare at their credentials.
- Be Aware of Your Time and the Reporter’s – It’s pretty common to have multiple meetings scheduled in a row and it’s even more common that a reporter may not show up right at his or her scheduled time. Once the meeting is taking place, take a time check and see how much time the reporter has with your client. If you need to move the meeting along, feel free to do so. Reporters are very busy at tradeshows and they’ll be dealing with many other PR reps like you, so the more helpful you can be to them, the more memorable you’ll be.
- Prepare Your Client – A detailed briefing book with interview notes and information on the reporter and the news outlet they work for can help your client make the press meeting more affective. When making the introduction, remind your client what the reporter is interested in. Briefly suggest what your client should start with depending on each reporter’s interest. Is the reporter unfamiliar with your company? Have your client start with a brief rundown of their products and services.
- Be Confident – Don’t forget to have some confidence when approaching the press. This will make them feel comfortable and be more engaged. What helped me most was remembering that they are just people and they agreed to schedule this time. You’re not bothering them and in fact you’re actually helping them by making an introduction and getting your client’s attention faster than they may be able to.
- Don’t Forget to Network – Have some free time in your schedule? Walk around the show floor and take a glance at attendee’s credentials. You’ll be surprised at the people you run into. From waiting in line at the food court or taking the elevator there’s always a chance to forge a new relationship. But when doing so, be casual and don’t push your client too much. Reporters will be happy to engage in some small talk instead of an elevator pitch on the way up to the fourth floor.
Working with the press involves a lot of preparation, but when properly prepared can be very enjoyable. Do you have a success story during a press meeting? Tell us about it below.