To do desksides or not to do desk-sides?
It is no secret that an integral part of working in a public relations firm is the quality of relationships that the publicists create with their clients, editors, television producers, etc. While emails and product samples are great, there is no comparison to getting some quality face time with the decision makers of the outlet you are seeking to get featured in with and that is where desk-sides come into play. Here at Konnect Agency, many of our publicists have had the opportunity to coordinate and execute desksides for many of our lifestyle and food & beverage clients.
A quick explanation of a desk-side is a ten to fifteen-minute meeting with one of your target editorial gatekeepers, typically in New York City, where they get to meet the person behind the brand, hear your story, and you discuss what is the new products are, have them sample the items, receive real-time feedback and most importantly begin to create and build a relationship with that individual. It seems simple enough but there is a lot that goes into setting up desk-sides.
While meeting some for your key media outlets sounds fantastic, and you are dreaming about all the possibilities this can lead to, you and your team will need to assess whether pursuing desk-sides will be beneficial for your brand. This is an investment of time and money that you need to be aware of and understand that just because your publicist can secure an appointment with a key contact, coverage is never guaranteed.
Here are a few questions to consider when thinking about if this is the right time for your company to arrange some desk-sides.
• Is your brand new or does it have a new product launching?
• Do you have distribution secured for your product?
• Do you have samples available that you can demo and leave with the contact?
• If needed, does your company have the time and budget to travel you to the location where the contact’s office is located?
• Will you have your publicist with you for the desk-sides?
• Will you be able to stay for a few days to meet with several people?
So, you and your public relations agency have evaluated the possible return of investment and both agree that moving forward with desk-sides is the correct course of action, congrats! Now it is time for your publicist to review the calendar, choose a few dates that would work best for you and their media contacts (it is important to be aware of what is going on to ensure that you are not competing for time with a major event, holiday or deadline) and flex their relationship muscles to lock in appointments.
It has been a few weeks and your publicist has been able to confirm several appointments with some of your target publications and television programs. You have made sure that your travel and lodging (centrally located to where your appointments will be) have all been arranged and now it is time to prep for the trip. Below are some things to keep in mind:
• Have you and your team finalized what products you will be bringing and how many you will need?
• Have you planned to have those products shipped to your hotel and stored accordingly until needed? Keeping in mind if you have any perishable items so that they are handled and stored appropriately immediately after delivery.
• What information are you going to have with you to leave behind following the meeting? Will you bring printouts, have all your assets on USB or both?
• Are you planning on bringing any branded swag in addition to the samples?
• What will you need for your desk-side samples that allow your contact to try the product out? If it is a food or beverage client, will you need spoons, bread, ice chest, cups? If it is a lifestyle product, does it need to be assembled, does it require batteries or to be charged?
A few days before your first scheduled appointment, your publicist will send a briefing sheet. In this briefing sheet, you will find helpful tips and guidelines of what to expect, do and avoid during your meeting along with your scheduled appointments. Depending on if you have your publicist onsite with you for the desk-side, the briefing sheet may also include detailed instructions on how to get to each appointment.
The day has finally come, you have made sure that the samples have been properly stored and prepped, all the materials for the are packed, the briefing document has been reviewed and you’re off in the car with your product headed to your first meeting.
Everyone’s time is valuable, and punctuality is the key to starting off on the right foot at your desk-sides. After your publicist has introduced you, it is time for you to take center stage and talk about your brand and yourself. This is a chance to really show how passionate you are about the brand, what makes it stand out among others and answer any questions they have. While you are talking, ask them if they are interested in trying the product (please note that not everyone will want to try the product immediately and that is OK). Remember these appointments go quickly (10-15 minutes) so be concise with your descriptions while incorporating key message points and keeping the meeting conversational. Before you know it, your time is up, and it is time to leave the samples and the information about the product with the people you have met with and move onto the next appointment.
Congratulations, you have finished all your desk-side appointments! Your publicist will reach out on your behalf to gather any feedback and send the requested samples/assets that were not available at the time of your meeting. A few days following your appointments, your publicist will have a recap document summarizing each meeting and what will happen next. With any luck, you and your samples have made a positive impression and the gatekeeper will feature the brand in an upcoming article.