The Lure of the Media Tour

I’ve been having a good week. For the first time in a while I am working with a new client, FaceTime Communications, setting up a media tour to introduce a new product. The process hasn’t changed much in recent years. You send the e-mail, don’t get a response, and then follow up by telephone to book a meeting. Ultimately you book a telephone briefing which usually proves insightful for all the participants.

Public relations has been evolving with the Web. Back in the dark ages, before the web and when all e-mail was plain text, the telephone was my media weapon of choice. I would call editors with pitches about clients and new products, and they would patiently (or impatiently) listen to the pitch and either take the meeting, or tell me to move on. However, there was always personal contact, and a chance to interact in a meaningful way that would lead to an opportunity to work together again in the future.

Now, when you look at reporters’ pitch profiles on Cision or Vocus or whatever your PR contact database of choice, and they all say “please pitch by e-mail” or for those reporters more evolved, by Twitter. So you develop the pitch and send the e-mail, and 99 times out of 100 all you hear are the crickets. E-mail is easy to overlook, ignore, or just delete.

Which is why I am still a fan of the media tour. In the technology sector, there are fewer publications and fewer reporters than ever before, but nothing replaces a chance to connect a client with a reporter in a real conversation over changing market conditions or why a new product is going to change the landscape.  Your job is to help your client make a connection of mutual benefit – the client acquires a valuable media ally and the reporter meets a knowledgeable industry resource.

I often tell my clients (and prospects) that my role is that of Yenta, the matchmaker. I help connect the client with members of the press who should be interested in their story. It’s these are the kinds of connections you can’t really cultivate over e-mail. No one can hear a voice inflection or read a mood in an e-mail message or a Twitter pitch. You still need the human connection, which is why media tours still have value, for both the clients and the reporter. If PR professionals are going to continue to be effective and offer value, we will have to continue to help our clients make those human connections.

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