Happy New Year! I might be too old to be asking for advice – but I’ve been reading your blog since the college days!
I recently signed on as an AE at well-known, mid-sized PR firm in NYC. Before this, I have always worked at smaller firms who stuck to traditional phone/ e-mail pitching with occasional trade show attendance. My firm just started putting more pressure on us to take editors out to lunch — and for some reason this is terrifying to me.
I’ve met editors in person before at trade shows, so it’s not the meeting and chatting that makes me nervous. I know this is standard practice in PR but is there a way to do the whole editor outing thing without being too forceful and keeping things natural? While also slipping in some client chatter?
Any tips would be welcome – this is totally new to me!
This is a great question and something I can totally relate to. While it can seem nerve-wracking to have a one on one sit down with an editor, the most important part of it all is to keep the conversation flowing and personal. When I take editors out, 95% of the conversation is personal…the remaining 5% is related to business. Ask about where they went to school, where they live, how they got started in media, etc. Give some details on your personal life as well. Just as if it were a first date.
Sometimes the easiest way to ease into client talk is to start asking them more about their position and what they cover. If they say they cover something related to your client, it’s a natural way to bring up your work with your brands. For example, if the editor mentions he/she works on food coverage and is always looking for recipes, mention that your food client works with chefs and is constantly creating recipes and that you’d be happy to send through following the meeting. If nothing relates to your direct clients, bring them up casually (don’t go into too much details) and mention some of your general agency clients as well.
The point of taking editors out is to get to know them better on a personal level. If you hammer your clients onto them, it will make them feel comfortable. Before you take any reporters out on your own, ask if you can come along to one of your colleagues lunches. I enjoy bringing colleagues with me… it helps break the ice more.
Sit downs with editors like this help you form great relationships that will last you your entire PR career. Once you hit it off with an editor, you’ll feel more comfortable giving them a call to run something by them and most likely see more coverage from them in the future. Continue to check-in with them and take them out time and time again. Benefits of the relationship work both ways.
Best of luck!