Desk Side Media Visits Still Matter

 Yesterday afternoon we accompanied one of our clients to a desk side briefing at the Newark Star Ledger with one of their business reporters.  The meeting, which took place in a conference room, lasted just over an hour and was a free-flowing discussion.  The session allowed our client to update the reporter on the status of their project, answer tough questions on and off the record, as well as clarify some misinformation on the program.  By the end of the discussion, both the reporter and client felt satisfied that they had not only developed a dialogue with each other, but that for the reporter, he had received some new insights that could eventually be incorporated into a story.  That was the underlying reason for the meeting. 

Media desk side visits are an important tool in the communications process. Despite the layoffs affecting news organizations across the country, desk side visits should still be a tactic employed by all communications professionals and companies.

In order to make them effective, communicators should establish criteria before pursuing such meetings. This should include:

–          In setting up a desk side visit, coffee or lunch appointment with a media member, have a clear goal of why you are setting up the meeting. Maybe it’s to get to know a reporter who covers an industry that involves many of your clients. Or, a way to understand what an outlet is looking for editorially over the next few months. Perhaps it’s just to get associated.  Whatever, you do, make sure it’s about fostering a relationship and not just pushing your message.  This meeting can turn into a long-term relationship that can be mutually beneficial to both parties. Make sure you start off on the right foot.

–           A desk side visit should not be a sell job. It should be a platform for giving a media outlet background on what you’re trying to achieve as a company, and a chance to answer questions that will help educate and update the reporter, editor or producer about your program or project.

–          Look for these meetings as an opportunity to help a media outlet learn more about what you and your company do.  Don’t look at these meetings as immediate news opportunities. Let the relationship you foster be a driving force for future editorial stories.

–          Showcase how you or your company can become a resource for that given media outlet.  It’s not always about you. Serving as an industry resource and expert can help you build an identity and grow your client or company’s reputation.

–          Make sure your client or spokesperson knows going in that the meeting is for informational purposes and for cultivating a relationship with the outlet.

A desk side visit can be an effective tool in the communications process. How you use the tool will determine what kind of relationship you build.

 Tom Cosentino


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