Deskside meetings are one-on-one appointments with on-staff journalists and freelancers. These meetings, lasting anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour (though longer meetings are rare), are beneficial for building relationships, introducing brand initiatives and discussing potential coverage opportunities.
- Build relationships. Sometimes half the battle is getting someone to open an email. Meeting in person builds familiarity and trust. Forming meaningful relationships through in-person meetings will increase pitch/email responsiveness and generate future coverage opportunities.
- Undivided attention. Calls can be sent to voicemail, emails disregarded and packages unopened. During a desk side, the reporter is only focused on your product. If even for only 15 minutes, this is an invaluable opportunity to deliver key messages, secure interest in brand initiatives and discuss the journalist’s current/upcoming assignments.
- Stay top of mind. Meeting in-person provides a better opportunity to demonstrate enthusiasm and expertise for your product or industry. Moving forward, the journalist will consider you an industry expert and a go-to resource for stories relating to that topic.
- Do your research. Become familiar with the publication by reading the latest issue or browsing recent articles online. Specifically look at stories written by the journalist you’re meeting with to gain insight into what topics the writer is interested in covering. Websites like Contently and MuckRack make it easy to find recent work, especially for freelancers, by compiling online portfolios. Also check social media platforms to learn more about the journalist’s interests and recent travels. Some may even post leads online, which are good to know before the meeting.
- Prepare top discussion points. Identify key messages that can be communicated in a short period of time. Brainstorm what questions may be asked and have answers prepared. Customize discussion points to what each journalist is looking for, but present a common theme throughout so audiences receive consistent brand messaging.
- Ask questions. While it may be tempting to take advantage of the reporter’s full attention to focus on your initiatives, also take the time to focus on the writer. The desk side meeting is also a great opportunity to learn more about what topics the journalist is interested in and what stories they are working on. This information will help you tailor your follow up and future pitching efforts, therefore increasing the likelihood of editorial coverage.
- Leave something behind. A small gesture can go a long way. In addition to business cards and media kits, a small, useful gift or product sample will not only be appreciated, but ensure the writer remembers you following the meeting. If the journalist is active on social, they may even post about it! The best gifts include branded chap stick, pens, notebooks, flash drives, desk décor items… small gifts that can be used daily.
- Say thank you. Immediately after the meeting, send a short thank you note and include any quick follow-up items This shows appreciation for the journalist taking the time to meet, ensures that the writer has your contact information and will keep you top of mind. Taking the extra step to send a hand-written note can make an even bigger impact.
- Follow up pitch. Using the information you learned about the publication and the stories the writer is working on, tailor your follow up to include relevant details about your product or brand. Continue to send personalized emails, highlighting the information you know the contact is looking for.
Be Mindful Of…
- Respect time constraints. Some meetings may be very short, but a lot can be accomplished in 10-15 minutes. Come prepared with key talking points and be familiar with the publication. Communicate the important information without monopolizing the writer’s time. There is always time to share more detail when you follow up.
- Don’t expect immediate coverage. Desk side meetings are important for building relationships and, in some cases, may lead directly to coverage. Sometimes this process takes more time and involves a lot of email communication following the meeting. Be patient and continue building the relationship.
- Be conversational, not sales-y. Media prefer to feel like they are having a casual conversation, not being sold on your product.
Not everything will go as planned. And that’s okay! Cancelations may happen, even last minute. But meetings can be rescheduled. Journalists are busy and may not seem engaged. Don’t take it personally. Stay confident and be sure to follow up information covering everything that was discussed.