It’s happened – you secured a reporter’s interest. But the reporter wants to meet your prime expert source BEFORE writing or broadcasting a piece. Now what? A meet and greet?
If you’re concerned, don’t be! Meet and greets are tons of fun and exceedingly valuable for you and your client. You just have to know how to facilitate them.
Here are some surefire ways that will make the reporter go straight back to his or her desk after the meeting to write a story!
Prepare a briefing document listing the reporter’s social media information (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), links to pieces that the reporter has recently written/broadcasted, a professional headshot and a short professional biography of the reporter.
Likewise, prepare a briefing document for the reporter on the client and the organization he or she is affiliated with. Reporters like research – you’ll almost never see a reporter go into an interview or a meeting unprepared. Give all of the information needed in a concise and easy to read format that starts the meeting off on the right foot.
Before the meeting, have a briefing session with the client via phone or in person. In the briefing session, discuss and brainstorm anything that may be a potential fit for a positive story. Make sure that your client knows to stick with what is newsworthy and what you want to get across.
It’s also important to have a quick chat with the client about what not to say. The last thing you want on your hands is a completely different story than what you were aiming for. This is not to say that you should be a “spin doctor.” That isn’t what public relations professionals do. In the briefing session, be honest with your client (especially if there is a negative issue surrounding him or her or the company), and let the client know there is a chance the reporter may inquire about an undesirable topic. Make sure to prep your client on messaging – you do not want your client to look like a deer in t headlights when a reporter asks something and he or she starts stumbling with words.
The Day Of
If the meeting is offsite, arrive early and make sure that your client arrives early as well. This will make you look punctual and will also give your client one last chance to ask you any last minute questions.
When the reporter arrives, facilitate introductions and thank him or her for spending time with your client before the interview kicks off. Once they start the conversation, let your client do most of the talking. You can definitely guide the conversation and bring in new topics of discussion, but you are essentially in the background for most of the meet and greet. This is your client’s moment to shine. Do not interrupt the conversation unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Often, there is a lull in the conversation and both your client and the reporter will look at you with a look that screams what do I say now? The solution is to come with a list of topics to talk about and segue from one topic to the next. Silence at a meet and greet is always uncomfortable for all parties involved, so don’t let it happen for too long!
When the reporter is finished meeting your client, he or she will usually ask if there’s anything else your client would like to discuss. If there is something extremely important to discuss, do so. If it can wait, you can mention it in a follow up e-mail to the reporter. It’s best to be mindful of the reporter’s time.
After the Fact
Send the reporter an e-mail thanking him or her for spending time with your client and let the reporter know you’ll be happy to facilitate any follow up discussions. The reporter will likely appreciate the gesture. You may not get a story immediately but the meet and greet will be your first step toward a great piece in the future!
If you have any tips on how to facilitate a meet and greet, please share them below!