the PR pro
at a technology company. The engineering team has had initial success with
a new product and timing is
right to launch. You have recommended a
Next thing you know, this idea
has taken hold of the executives' hearts and minds, and the ball is in
your court to pull off a winning tour. Before you start the countdown to
that first editorial meeting in a distant metropolis, let's review some
game plan fundamentals - strategy, execution and outcomes.
Why a tour. A media tour is an excellent method to achieve PR rule
#1: forge strong relationships. From a tactical perspective, it's
about meetings with targeted press and analysts in one or more
geographical regions when launching a new company, product, or service. But strategically speaking, communicating one-on-one is the best way to
build relationships of mutual respect and interest with the press and
analysts whose articles, reports and recommendations influence your
company's key external audiences.
Bring in the experts. Undertaking a tour is not for the
inexperienced. You want to put your best foot forward with the
media, and first impressions are critical. Think of PR counsel as a
coach, and your company is gearing up for the season. To reach the
finals, you'll benefit from a coach's wisdom to optimize your performance
through preparation, motivation and experience.
Format. Adjust the meeting mode as needed to maximize
opportunities for interaction with your key contacts. Often a tour
is a combination of in-person meetings with press and analysts in multiple
metro areas (New York, Boston, Washington, DC, Chicago, San
Francisco/Silicon Valley) and teleconferences. Phone briefings are an
increasingly common element of tours as more writers and analysts work
from remote locations.
Keep a lid on it. The press needs fresh news. For
instance, if the purpose of your tour is to unveil a product line, don't
be tempted to publish related materials such as white papers or datasheets
on your website before releasing the news. Working closely with management
will keep information about your company's next big thing from getting out
before its time.
Too many players. Press tours are an exciting prospect since they
provide the opportunity to raise your company's profile and communicate
the latest messages - with the media, no less! Sometimes that
enthusiasm leads to a heavy tour lineup. When you hit the road, the
only people entering the conference room for the briefing should be one
well-prepared spokesperson and you, the PR expert.
Spring training. It takes at least two months to plan an effective
tour, so it's important to communicate regularly with your internal
constituents and set expectations about the process. You'll need the time
to engage an industry analyst well in advance of the tour for a consulting
session to fine-tune your positioning. Conduct spokesperson training
with your star player to master effective message-delivery techniques. Prepare a Q&A for your spokesperson, anticipating a wide range of
questions about the news, but also about the company, from competitors to
funding to sales channels. Create a concise, news-oriented presentation
tailored to the press and analyst audience, but be able to deliver the
story without using it as a script for the briefing.
Timing. Once you're on the road, most tours are conducted over a
period of one to two weeks, with follow-up as needed over the next several
months. Complete the tour prior to the wire date of your news, taking into
account long- and short-lead publication cycles. When dealing with
embargoed news on tour, securing reporters' embargo agreements is
essential so that no early stories appear, potentially adversely impacting
other media coverage possibilities.
The final score. Once the meetings are concluded and the news has
been wired, you can expect press coverage, although not necessarily
immediately afterward. Articles seeded during the tour, especially
with monthly publications, can appear up to six months later. Often,
the tour is just the first step in the process, since follow-up is
necessary to ensure the reporter has all the elements for the story
(customer references, graphics, analyst references). Analysts may
use the information in a report or research note, and the publication
cycle can be up to nine months. Most importantly, with a tour, your
company has invested in a foundation for future dialogue with the key
media reaching your prospective customers, partners and investors.
Duskin-Gadd is vice president of Interprose
Inc, a high-tech PR agency.
Prior to joining the agency world, Kristin managed global public relations
for Alcatel's data division. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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