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Meeting the media Featured

9:42am EDT July 22, 2002

The owner of a new business with a great product but a very limited marketing communications budget once asked me what I could do to help him make an initial impact in his target market within about four months.

Print advertising wasn’t viable; the budget just couldn’t support producing an ad and buying the space to place it multiple times. Besides, numerous magazines reached the potential customers he wanted to reach, including a mix of business trade publications and the big — and very expensive — consumer magazines.

So I took him on a media tour, with a presentation about the product, to some of the top publications, many in New York City. We visited with 19 editors — in two days. More than half were with McGraw-Hill publications, all located in one building.

We also visited publishers of multiple publications and included a stop at the New York Times, where we met with a syndicated columnist. That single meeting, which lasted about 45 minutes, led to a story that was carried in newspapers across the country, including one right here in Pittsburgh. The story was read by millions of people.

What I wanted to do with this client — and what you should consider doing if you’re thinking about putting together a media tour— was to develop an approach to engage each editor in a discussion that would lead to the development of a feature article specifically for that publication.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Make a list of all the publications reaching your customers and group them by city or geographic region. You’ll probably find a number of them based in the metro areas of New York City, Washington D.C. and Chicago.

2. Develop a statement about why readers will be interested in reading about your product or service and call or e-mail the editor. E-mail seems to be the most effective way to reach most of them. Craft the message. It needs to be brief, but have enough detail to convince the editor that you have something in which readers will be interested.

3. Call the editors to arrange a meeting. If the editors you’re meeting with work for the same publishing house, (McGraw-Hill, for example), your commute between offices may consist of a ride on the elevator, and you can schedule meetings closely together.

4. During each meeting, briefly engage the editor in a conversation about how information about your product or service will be of interest to lots of readers.

5. If the editors are scattered around the city, it may be to your advantage to rent a conference room in a hotel that’s centrally located and invite the editors to come there. Do a brief presentation before noon, go right into a Q&A session and then have lunch brought in. That offers privacy, and you avoid the confusion of asking the editors to move to a different room.

6. As soon as you return to your office, write a personal note of thanks to each editor for meeting with you and remind the editor of any discussion you had concerning a specific article. Remind him or her about possible topics, deadlines, etc., that were discussed in the meeting.

This follow-up of the media tour is what makes it a marketing communications activity that pays for itself many times over. You’re now in position to begin developing an article with the publication. Mission accomplished.

Jeff Krakoff is president of Krakoff Communications, Inc., a Pittsburgh-based marketing communications and public relations agency. Reach him at (412) 434-7718 by e-mail at jkrakoff@krakoff.com.