A media tour is a great way to deliver a message to a key group of targeted media outlets in a consistent and time-efficient fashion. Media tours often make the most sense when there is something new to talk about – whether it’s a new product, event or even a new employee within a company whom the media might be interested in learning more about.
We recently assisted our client Virginia Distillery Company with the coordination of a media tour that was held on site at the distillery in Lovingston, Virginia. The tour was designed to promote the launch of The Virginia Whisky Experience, a one-of-a-kind tour that includes an interactive museum and video experience. We had a great day, with a number of media contacts from various local and regional outlets in attendance – after all, whisky was a part of the tour. But more importantly, reporters were able to take part in The Virginia Whisky Experience for themselves before it officially went live to the public.
If you think a media tour is the next step in your public relations plan, read below for some tips on planning one and a suggestion on measuring success.
Planning a media tour
- The Basics: If you’re considering a media tour, you’ll want to keep in mind many of the logistics that you’d encounter when planning any kind of event –location, target audience, timeline, activities, refreshments, etc. Make a checklist to ensure that you’ve got everything covered.
- Guest List: Once you decide when and where you want to hold your media tour, the next step is deciding who (and how many members of the media) to invite. You’ll want to develop a targeted list of contacts that is slightly larger than the attendance number you would be comfortable with, keeping in mind that some folks may not be able to attend due to scheduling conflicts or other issues. At the end of the day, emphasize quality over quantity: It’s better to have five people in a room who really care about your new product or event than 25 people who are only but so excited.
- Convenience is key: As you’re planning, remember to think about how you can make the tour convenient for your audience. Is there a certain time of day that might be best? Can you make transportation easier? (When we organized a media tour to coincide with the opening of the Virginia Capital Trail, we piled everyone onto a bus and made strategic stops along the way.) Will a meal be provided? And if you’re hoping for a large media turnout, it might be worth checking in with a local news station or two to see if they already have any anything on the books for that day before you set your date.
- Have a game plan: Once you’re ready to press “send” on your invitations, you should have a solid game plan in mind for how the day is going to go. Of course, certain things might ebb and flow as the event draws nearer, but if a potential attendee asks you for a timeline of the event, you should be able to provide it.
- Messaging and more: Day of, you’ll want to have messaging and extras, like photos or video, ready for your attendees – whether you have everything in a press kit, a USB drive, or in a Dropbox album – the media will appreciate having all the facts and information they need in one place.
How do you know if a media tour is successful:
- As a general rule, the easiest way to define success is to look back at the initial goal. With a media tour, the objective is to deliver a message to a key group of targeted media outlets. If at the end of your event, you can say with confidence that targeted media now know more about your message than they did at the beginning, it’s a success!
- Success can take time, especially when it comes to working with the media. If you’ve invited a journalist who writes for a long-lead publication, you might not see the fruits of your labor for four or five months. Other media mentions might happen really quickly.
- A no isn’t always a no: Sometimes, a specific day or time might just not work for someone who you REALLY wanted to attend. But, there’s always hope for the future. With our recent Virginia Distillery Company media tour, we had two outlets who couldn’t attend on that day but planned visits in the weeks following. That’s where flexibility comes in.
What’s the best media tour you’ve ever been a part of? Tell us in the comments below.