How to successfully run a media tour: a checklist

I love a challenge, which is probably a good thing since PR is one of those industries that always keeps you on your toes. By their very nature, PR professionals are characteristically organised, switched on and ready to tackle anything head on. And no situation truly challenges those skillsets to the fullest than event management; be it media tour, press launch or trade show.

Given my penchant for a challenge, you can probably imagine that I jumped at the chance to manage a media tour for Babel client NETSCOUT, a leader in business assurance solutions, across 3 countries, visiting 4 cities in 5 days. The aim of the activity was to build the company’s profile in three key markets – France, Germany and the UK. Co-ordinating with partner agencies, we arranged 29 briefings, clocked up a serious number of air miles for the spokespeople involved and boosted awareness of NETSCOUT within those regions. With the tour a resounding success, here is a checklist of things to consider when planning a media tour.

  1. You can never have too many lists
    Media tours take a serious amount of planning. Being able to understand how the moving parts fit together and juggle them successfully is vital. Therefore keeping lists of salient information – journalists, flight times, hotels, taxi services, phone numbers, key dates and timelines – makes it a heck of a lot easier. You may well see spreadsheets burned into your eyelids when you close your eyes at night, but you will be able to sleep safe in the knowledge that no balls are being dropped.
  2. Tell a story
    There are no two ways about it – journalists are becoming busier and busier. With increasingly smaller teams and tighter deadlines, for a journalist justifying taking time out of the office to meet with a company face-to-face is difficult. You need to have an answer to ‘Why should I meet with your client?’ and ‘because they’re here for the day’ is never going to cut it. Before you even start pitching, take time to craft a compelling and relevant story that will be genuinely interesting to the media you’re looking to target. When it comes to a tour taking place across multiple regions, it’s especially important to make sure each market has something compelling to say.
  1. There is no such thing as over communicating
    Working in a tight knit team to take on an event is one thing, but when you are working with multiple teams in different countries, language barriers and cultural differences can mean things get lost in translation. Prompt and clear communication then becomes all the more important. Assume nothing. Make sure every detail is shared with the entire team and that there is a written record of it. It is the surest way of avoiding crossed wires and making sure the tour run smoothly.
  1. Keep calm
    When it comes to event planning it is inevitable that, at times, you will experience slightly higher blood pressure! Succumbing to stress helps no one, least of all your clients. They need you to keep your cool and expertly handle any problems that arise. Accept that some things are out of your control. As much as it may pain you to admit it, there is little you can personally do to avoid or prevent a British Airways flight cancellation. Make sure you have contingency plans where possible and build time buffers into the schedule to ensure that if something does go awry, you can deal with it in the most effective way possible.
  1. Take it all in
    A media tour is great opportunity to meet with executives within the client organisation that you perhaps wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to speak to. As a result, it’s in these instances that you will likely pick up valuable nuggets of information. Take some time out from the running around to spend time with your client, listen to what they have to say and not only will you enjoy what you are doing that little bit more, but it will equip you with the pitching ammunition required to sustain media relations efforts for many months after the tour has finished.
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