Most of us in the PR world get them…invitations to media briefings. But are they a valuable use of time and how can we maximise upon the opportunity?
It’s easy to think, ‘I just don’t have the time right now’, but we really should make the time. These media briefings offer an excellent opportunity to hear first-hand, from key journalists, exactly what they want, like and dislike when it comes to PR activity and pitching stories.
After recently attending a media briefing with CNBC, I found that not only was it great to be up earlier than normal…(this may be a lie)…but I did get a lot out of it (this is true). The media briefings are events that every PR professional will get something useful from, whether it’s a new contact, an understanding of what the publication is looking for, or on most occasions, examples of pitches the journalists love and hate – all very important cogs in the building of the perfect news package.
Something I’ve found that is truly under-rated at these events are the questions from the audience; often someone will ask a question that you never knew you wanted to ask, but as soon as they do, you realise that you couldn’t imagine not knowing the answer. Someone will always ask a question that relates to you and will help you in your efforts to successfully pitch to the publication.
What to do next
There is one thing that you must NOT do after attending a media briefing…you must not leave that room and do nothing with what you’ve learnt.
So once you have taken the plunge and set your alarm for the crack of dawn (it’s not really that early!), what should you do with your new information?
1. Share your findings
As soon as you get back to the office, set aside some time to type up your notes and share them with your team. Sit down and talk about the event – chances are you would have written down some excellent points that everyone will benefit from knowing about. Create a document where you can outline the relevant information for pitching to that publication or journalist so that you can refer to it at a later date and get the most from your pitch. If the journalist has taken the time to give you all of these tips and advice, make sure you share them and use them.
2. Do a bit more research
Did you write something down that you thought could be useful? If so, don’t forget about it. Check the website out, check out the social media outlets, does the publication have a blog? Look at the publication in a bit more depth once you’ve been to the meeting (since you’re still inspired by the event); you might now spot something that you wouldn’t have thought could have been an opportunity before. Think outside the box and use the advice given to you by the journalists themselves to pitch your idea in the way that will gain their attention.
3. Make contact
Send the journalist/s an email to thank them for their time and for providing you with such valuable knowledge. Use this ‘thank you’ as an opportunity to invite the journalist to lunch or a coffee to specifically discuss how your clients can help them. Follow the journalist on Twitter, it’s a great tool for keeping up-to-date with what the journalist is currently interested in and writing about; use it to your advantage.
4. Use the information you’ve been given
So it’s come to the point where you are about to pitch to the publication you’ve just sat through a briefing with. They’ve told you what they’re looking for, they’ve explained what you should do to grab their attention – and what not to do. Put this into action. Tell them where you think the story will fit in their publication if that’s what they’ve asked, give them a snappy brief if that’s what they prefer – don’t let the information and your time go to waste.