As a publicist, one of the most important tasks are scheduling deskside meetings with editors and producers. Interaction with media and editors require a face-to-face meeting where you and your media contact can become more familiar with one another and build a solid relationship naturally. It’s not a time to extensively pitch yourself at length, as it's more of a “getting to know you” meeting, and learning about what you have to offer. Another great aspect to acquiring a deskside meeting is you can build an incredible relationship which in turn will allow for more media placements in the future.
SCHEDULING THE MEETING
When you schedule meetings try to start by reaching out to contacts you have either emailed, tweeted or worked with or have been in contact with in the past. It will be easier to secure a deskside meeting and you can focus on strengthening your relationship with them. Always remind them your meeting will not take that long and you won’t take up a lot of their time (mention this in the actual email or phone call when you ask for the meeting). This shows respect for their time and eases the pressure off of them. Lastly suggest dates and times you can do the deskside meeting so all they have to do is match it against their schedule and respond accordingly.
ALWAYS BE PREPARED
During as deskside meeting you should plan to ask questions that will help you get to know editors and media up close and personal. Knowing more about them and what they like and dislike will give you a leg up when you pitch them. In other words, your email pitch has a much better chance of being opened and responded to in the future once you get to know an editor more personally.
When you schedule the meeting be sure to walk in prepared and have a plan. These two little tips are extremely important because it will maximize your face time (which will already be pretty limited). If things at the deskside are going well, prior to your departure from your deskside meeting make sure to find ways to continue the conversation. Invite them to an event your company is hosting, for coffee, or to a sale or trunk show you are doing. Perhaps you invite them to a press preview or editor’s tea. At the very least be sure you ask them about what stories they’re working on in the future, or other ways you can help them out. Throughout the meeting make them feel special (not as if they’re just one of 8 meetings you have that day) and the relationship can blossom naturally.
Be prepared and have your materials to share who you are with them (media kit, linesheets, your bio). Don’t show up empty handed! It’s important that they understand your value as a business as well as who you are and what you are providing for them before you show up.
Let’s talk briefly about that press kit you’re going to be bringing to your deskside. Your press kit can help you stay on track while in the actual meeting and navigate effortlessly through your scheduled deskside meeting because it will be like a script that will walk you through your talking points without having to try and memorize everything that you want to say. It’s also essential because a deskside is a case where the more information you can leave with your contact the better your chances are of being remembered. Keep this in mind when deciding what you’re going to bring with you. You want press materials that will effectively communicate your brand and if you’re an expert or service provide, your area of expertise. Having your press kit together is not only professional and the standard in business, but it also makes you stand apart from other’s trying to get their point across by only sending emails.
THE MOMENT OF TRUTH: THE MEETING
You have to approach a deskside meeting as though you are interviewing for a job, which means prior to the interview you need to learn about the outlet and the type of stories they to help you better succeed. Just like in a job interview, you should come prepared with talking points for yourself as well as questions for them to help you better understand their needs and what they like to be pitched. If you do not come well-versed in what they do and don’t write about they will notice you are ill-prepared and it makes your chances of success a little more difficult. Questions can include: What types of stories they are interested in writing? What types of guests are you looking for (for producers)?
During the meeting (and your emails before and after) do not forget that they are people too. They will be more than happy to share little personal details with you so look around their office and ask questions about them based on what you see. If you see an engagement ring on their finger ask them if they have planned a date yet? Or, If you see they have kids/pets ask them about their kids or pets. Perhaps you even noticed a hobby of theirs on Twitter or their website. People often love talking about their kids and especially their pets. Keep it short, but do try to get a little bit personal because it will help you build that relationship for the future! You are there for business but you must be able to be a real person who is humbled and has good energy.
WHAT TO DO AFTER THE DESKSIDE
After your departure be sure to send a short follow up email to your contact to thank them for their time. More importantly, if you feel like the deskside meeting went in the right direction then send them a little something like cookies or coffee gift cards. That will be sure to help them remember you. It’s the small things that count and details are important!
Once you have accomplished your deskside meeting it’s time to start gearing your pitches to your contacts needs, now that you know them a little bit more personally. Please do not send pitches that you know has nothing to do with any of their upcoming stories because this could get you blacklisted. In the end your goal is build relationships that will last and continue to grow, and a deskside is one of the most personal and powerful ways to do this!