Last week, I was in New York City performing deskside meetings with a client. A Deskside media tour is a very popular tool for public relations agencies, especially at a food and beverage public relations firm. These are quick 5-15 in-person meetings that enable brands to make a one-on-one connection with key editorial contacts. It is an intimate opportunity to showcase the product, share key messages, discuss and demonstrate functionality, increase awareness of the brand, provide story ideas/angles, and ultimately build long-term relationships and loyalty among very influential consumer gatekeepers. It is beneficial for the client to be present during these meetings so the contacts can hear the brand’s story, product descriptions, and future plans directly from the client. In addition, it is a great way to put a face to a brand/product.
Since desksides are brief, it is important to be on-time, prepared and quick on your toes. Below are the major components of deskside meetings:
- Publicist representative should guide the conversation while client should provide the key information/messaging
- Physically bring the product to showcase. Note if you have a product that needs refrigeration, make sure you book a car service and provide the proper cooling needs (i.e. cooler packs and a cooler).
- Encourage media contacts to physically interact with/taste the product, while publicist and client highlight important facts and answers all brand related questions
- Upon leaving the meeting, each contact should be given the brand’s press kit and a business card from the publicist
During the desksides, there are a few key tips to keep in mind including:
- Desksides are not a sales pitching opportunity! Media prefers for the discussion to be conversational, not formal.
- Try to naturally incorporate as many key messages as possible. You will not have time to go through them all, but make note of the most important information (key messages in separate document)
- The editor will often share information about what they are currently working on. Use their feedback to position the brand in unique ways for how it can be relevant for their current/upcoming projects.
- Be mindful of the time – each meeting is about 10 -15 minutes long. You do not want to overwhelm the editor with too much information. Stick to the key points and if something requires a more in-depth explanation, inform the editor that you will send additional materials after the meeting via email.
As a publicist, to ensure a successful deskside campaign, be sure to do the following:
- Research a list of top publications and editors in market
- Compile your pitch with information on the brand, imagery, the date and times you will be available
- Confirm media appointments and send calendar invites for media and clients (separately)
- Request samples from client
- Compile a training document which provides an overview of what desksides are, and review with client approximately one week prior
- Compile a briefing document including final schedule (editor, position, outlet, time of meeting, address, and cross streets) and media brief (image of contact, outlet, name, and a blurb about the contact).
- One day prior to deskside meetings, confirm time and place of meeting with contacts
- On the day of the desksides, be 15 minutes early for meetings! Many times you will have to go through security to gain access to the proper floor. Be sure you have samples and material to give to the contacts.
- During the desksides, be yourself, speak clearly, and show your enthusiasm for the product. Be sure to ask the editor if they want to taste the product and use the editor’s feedback to provide angles for how the product can be relevant. Also, be sure to take notes on what you/your client speak to the editor about, what they are working on, any assets they want, etc.)
- After the meetings, be sure to send thank you emails to contacts with any necessary next step items (i.e. send a recipe or image or something you spoke about during the meeting).
- Within a week of the meetings, provide a wrap report to your client that includes opportunities and next steps