By: Guest Blogger, Sabrina Kidwai
As public relations professionals, we are always trying to find creative ways to get our client covered by the press either through press releases and press conferences to features and special events. However, the state of the media industry, especially with newspapers, is shrinking and reporters are covering more beats. Organizations, businesses, and associations are exploring new ways to break through the clutter and get noticed by print, broadcast, and online media.
For the past 10 years, I’ve been working and volunteering for different associations and nonprofits to help raise awareness about their mission and how they are impacting their community. One of the tactics that I’ve found useful as well as successful is conducting media tours because of the resulting coverage, as well as the opportunity to build quality relationships with the media.
The key to a media tour is having a great story to tell. It’s not always about your organization, but how your product, meeting, or issue will impact the community or relates to a larger trend. You also need to personalize it.
For example, I used to work for the Association for Career and Technical Education and promoting the critical role of career and technical education in developing a qualified workforce. When Congress and the Administration wanted to cut federal funding to the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, we decided to conduct media tours in targeted districts to educate media on how the cut in funding would affect the community. I worked with the state executive director to bring together teachers and administrators, so they could provide the local perspective. The reporters want to know how the cuts would impact the city.
Media tours are a great way to raise awareness about your organization and/or meetings. For the past two years, I’ve used media tours to bring attention to ASAE’s Annual Meeting & Exposition and its impact on the host city. Twenty percent of our attendees will book a meeting in the city within the next five to seven years, so it could potentially bring close to 500 million dollars.
In 2012, ASAE and the Dallas Convention Visitors Bureau met with the Dallas Business Journal and the Dallas Morning News one month before the Annual Meeting & Exposition. We discussed the ROI for the city and used statistics from past meetings. The meetings resulted in three stories in the Dallas Business Journal and six Dallas Morning News stories, including three front page stories throughout our meeting.
For this year’s meeting, we got three stories published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, including a case study highlighting the benefits to Atlanta. These stories resulted from our media tour and building those relationships.
Convinced that a media tour is a good fit for you? Here are a few tips on how to implement a successful one:
1) Conduct a media analysis of the outlets you are planning to meet.
Research how the outlets have covered your issue or organization, so you can better position your story.
2) If you are a nonprofit, work with the local chapter to help find local representatives, so they can personalize it.
Hold a conference call to prepare participants for the meeting so you can be on the same message.
3) When scheduling meetings with the media, offer to meet over lunch, coffee, or a site visit.
A site visit gives you the perfect situation to tell your story.
If you don’t have a large budget for an in-person media tour, you could host a virtual media tour using Google Hangout, webinars, or phone briefings. The goal is about raising awareness, telling a great story, and being creative, so you can increase the visibility of your organization.
Sabrina Kidwai, APR, has been involved in public relations for 14 years working in associations, nonprofits and high-tech PR agency. She is currently the senior manager of PR for ASAE where she handles both internal and external communications, provides counsel to senior leadership, and develops strategic communication plans for the organization. She is a board member for the National Capital Chapter Public Relations Society of America, and the co-chair for the 2014 International PRSA Conference Committee. She is an alumnus of the IEL Education Policy Fellowship Program in Washington, DC. Sabrina received her Bachelor’s in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and her Master’s in Public Administration from the University of South Carolina.