A media tour is a coordinated effort to meet with targeted media contacts across multiple geographical locations.
Business leader have often used media tours to plant the seeds for news stories about a new company, a new product, or a new way of doing business.
From a business leader's standpoint, the primary purpose of a media tour is promotional. A tour is only successful if it generates substantial promotional impact for the company or at least enough free publicity to offset its cost.
But successful media tours aren't tradeshows – they require a much more sophisticated approach than a simple promotional campaign. Journalists care about stories, not product promotions. If your media tour focuses too much on promotion, your efforts won't translate into the payoff of free publicity.
How Media Tours Work
With the help of an experienced PR person, business leaders plan a series of editorial meetings in either large media markets (e.g. Boston, Chicago New York) or media markets within a single region (e.g. northeast U.S., the west coast, etc.). Journalists are contacted in advance and a preliminary schedule is set based on mutual availability.
After meetings have been confirmed, the business leader conducts one-on-one meetings with press contacts, filling in scheduling gaps with a generous dose of teleconferences and phone calls. A media tour only lasts a week or two. But if it's done well, media tour follow-up continues for months after the tour has ended as journalists convert your insights and story ideas into published news items.
Key Success Factors for Media Tours
There are several key success factors associated with a media tour, starting with the involvement of a qualified PR specialist. Traditional media outlets are experiencing more and more staff cutbacks. It can be difficult to get access to in-demand journalists without the experience and relationships of a PR professional.
It's also helpful to approach the tour as an opportunity to establish relationships with vital press contacts. Would you like to see a features story about your company or product? Absolutely, but you'll get more mileage if you go into the press tour with the idea of telling a compelling story and creating relationships (rather than landing feature articles).