Earning coverage: Five steps to the perfect media day

Media days can become a waking nightmare for public relations practitioners if not planned correctly, but there are ways to avoid the pitfalls and ensure a successful event.

Fail to prepare? Then prepare to fail, warns Alex Cook
Fail to prepare? Then prepare to fail, warns Alex Cook

A key skillset in any public relations practitioner’s toolkit is the ability to organise a successful media day and generate coverage for a client of a key product launch or news announcement, whether this involves announcing an investment into a new factory or launching your client’s latest FinTech app.

The media day can be the stuff of real nightmares for PR practitioners.

Everything is in place: the room looks amazing and is finally ready to go, you’ve prepared all the press materials, lined up the top-tier journalists to speak with your client’s executive(s), but the potential for it all to go wrong comes down to that one single day.

A lot of PR people will feel that the day is in the ‘lap of the gods’ and that if journos drop out on the day, there is nothing they can do. This isn’t the case.

The reality is that there is actually plenty you can do.

As the old saying goes: "fail to prepare, prepare to fail." The success of your media day will live and die by how hard you prepare in advance.

Here are five ways to avoid it going off the tracks and ensure you have a successful day, which results in plenty of coverage for your client:

1. Get there early to set the room up

it might seem like an obvious one, but the one time you arrive there late will be the day the presentation isn’t loading and the A/V technician at the venue isn’t available. Avoid the last minute drama and give yourself plenty of time to ease into the day.

2. Always make yourself available to the client

There may be times when they want you to blend into the background, such as during the embargoed interviews, but as long as you offer your services with every little thing, from venue directions to refreshments, they will value your support.

3. Stay organised...

This doesn’t have to be anything super technical: a running order and an idea of where each person’s responsibilities lie will ensure that the day runs as smoothly as possible.

4. ...but also, stay flexible

We’ve all been there, a journalist drops out the day before, or worse still, on the day of the launch. Keep calm and carry on, the client will value your ability to flexibly respond to the last-minute change of plan and if you can offer a solution in the form of an alternative journalist, so much the better.

5. Make a personal connection with each journalist

You will probably only have a minute or two to talk to each journalist, whilst escorting them to and from the briefing room. Use this time to find an area of common ground with them (where they live, where they come from, a hobby): even a fleeting link can give you something to refer back to when following up for coverage.

Alex Cook is a consultant at Sermelo

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