PR Notes- Press/Analyst Tour Still Best Media Relations Option

It was 1999′ and I had recently been hired as Director of PR for, the DIY leader for home automation, entertainment and security products.  We had just launched the first remote software for our most popular wireless, color video camera, XCam2.  Prior to joining X10, I had spent almost two years as a member of the Microsoft Small Business PR team at Waggener Edstrom.  During my tenure, I had the opportunity to participate in the launch of a updated version of Small Business Server.  The PR tactics included face-to-face meetings with target press and analysts.  The results were impressive- a significant number of positive placements, both news and reviews, for the new version.

Back at X10 there was no PR infrastructure to leverage for the release of the remote viewing software.  Most importantly, there were no media/analyst relationships or even target list.  Using the success of the Microsoft model, I moved quickly to ID targets, create a demo and pitch face-to-face meetings in NY, Boston, SF and San Jose.  After securing briefings with a majority of the targets, I planned a utilitarian, affordable itinerary and headed out on the tour alone.  The results surpassed my wildest dreams.  Many of the national targets representing computer, consumer, business and lifestyle publications knew of X10 and even had some products in their own homes.  I was welcomed with open arms.  Placements started flowing.

Fast forward to the present.  I still maintain several of those media/analyst relationships( plus many more) to pitch content and secure placements based on those initial and follow up meetings.  Following those first  meetings, I was no longer just another PR flack on the phone or email in their in-box.  Let’s face it, none of these folks were compelled to cover X10 by the bosses.  That is reserved for the “big boys” in every industry.  The initial tour taught me a lesson still relevant today.  If you’re not one of the “big boys”, a face-to-face tour is the best way to build and maintain long-term key editorial relationships to provide content and secure placements.

Case-in-point- A new client.  Behind-the-scenes leader in their market space.  Small team. Limited budget and resources.  Ready to commit some resources to PR.  My recommendation- Consider a press tour.  Fly red-eye, stay at a moderately priced hotel.  Take cabs.  Schedule meetings in key cities at 10, 12,2 and 4.  Spend the time and effort.  The results will amaze you.