+ Point of view

Taking the press to tea – tales of when clients come to town

Written by Jamael Kudratt

In PR, pitching is part and parcel of the job. We have great stories and need to get them out. Sometimes, the client comes to town to help us and meet press friends face to face. It’s now up to us to maximise the value of this time for client and journalist.

Running a press tour means you’ll need to have something deemed worth leaving the office for. Whether you’re hosting a press conference in a city hotel, bringing a string of top journos to see your CEO in town for the day, or launching a shiny gadget in front of the bloggers who need to know, it’s a complex mix of logistics, planning and tact.

Here’s a starter pack of tips to make sure the event delivers the value it promises to everyone.

No time like the present
Our press friends are busy people. Teams are small and specialised, and you will likely have one specific person in mind most suited to meet your CEO tour or come to that press lunch. The best time to tell them something’s in the pipeline is right now. You won’t necessarily get the confirmations you’re after just yet, but give them all the notice you can, especially if you want them to come to you. Agree a date to follow up then and give them a call then.

This is, if anything, a nice opportunity for a chat completely unrelated to a client press release!

Logistics for dummies
Where are you meeting? How many minutes, at what time of the day, how far is the venue from your client’s hotel? What’s the mobile number of the CEO’s 10 am appointment, and the number to call from the function room to top up the coffee? Unless you can answer questions at this granular level, you are likely to run into snags. People are moving parts, so plan where your team will be during the day and set up a chat so you can easily reach them. Have your days set out in a calendar so you have it all in black and white. (Or green and yellow, we’re creative here)!

You’re the host(ess) with the most(ess)
In the world of tech, with teams stretched from London, to San Francisco, and Riga, time ‘IRL’ with clients is often little and far between. Let the moment with your client be about getting to know each other, but also about them knowing you’re the host, that they need not worry, and you have it all in hand. You’re there to assure your client that all is in control and they are being taken care of. Don’t disappear on the phone for an hour. Of course, don’t forget to introduce the team and socialise – know who will be on the ground at all times, and make sure everyone has a chance to meet.

Great Expectations
Set expectations before you begin – how many pieces of coverage are you expecting, and where? Is this about sheer numbers of influencer posts, or fewer pieces of analytical, in-depth writing? If you’ve done this before, benchmark yourself against those achievements and challenge yourself to better that. Press tours are so often a relationship building activity with the purpose of getting two people in front of each other and demonstrating the value that doesn’t come over on a conference call. These are the invaluable relationships we should be nurturing and maintaining well after the C-Suite flies home.