Brian Metcalf
Brian Metcalf

Like most agencies, we’ve always found an in-person media tour to be a fantastic way to maintain strong connections with our media partners while offering an opportunity for us to have deeper insight into the stories they are planning to tell.

While coffee dates are nice, they’re largely a thing of the past given the reduced staff, virtual newsrooms and ever-growing need to pump out content to garner steady viewership. To make it worth the journalist’s time, we design our tours to be high-impact in terms of the topics we cover and products we show while also blending in a personal touch. Nothing is better than knowing a child’s recent birthday or major milestone like a wedding or engagement to kick off a conversation!

While different this year, we also saw a unique opportunity to take the New York deskside concept much further and not be bound by geography when briefing media. We wanted to share a recipe that has yielded success as well as key media takeaways after racking up the 100th briefing of the summer!

Recipe for Success

Build an interactive platform that will keep the media engaged. When we conduct these meetings in person, we not only have products with us for live demos but leave behind a highly stylized printed resource as a reminder of what the clients saw and several topical story ideas. To make it virtual, we used a combination of custom video content from our studio, GIFs and topic-based story ideas to keep the presentations flowing freely with strong visual content. We hosted these resources on the back end of our website with password protections for products that were under embargo to give the media the ability to revisit as they were looking for other ideas.

We found a mix of media members who wanted product in-hand for the demos and others who were content to chat with us and request what they liked the most. We were more than happy to accommodate either, which helped ensure we booked more meetings by being flexible.

Key Media Trends

Money talks: A much stronger strategic link between editorial and e-commerce is currently in play than we have seen in the past. Beyond the common editorial calendar and the more traditional storytelling designed to gain traction with an audience, we are seeing far greater attention to products and stories that are also more likely to drive purchasing, especially as we embark on a very different kind of holiday season as a result of the global pandemic. As affiliate relationships continue to be pervasive and seek to replace ad revenue that has been lost over several years, there is far greater attention to a hybrid of storytelling with revenue opportunities. Pitching through that lens is already yielding many more visible pieces within the media and will surely continue through the holiday gifting season.

Dead beats: Another quite common sentiment we heard over the last several weeks of briefings was “I typically cover XYZ, but due to Covid-19, I'm also covering ABC.” While the days of the singular beat appear to have become more of a rarity than the norm, it was also made clear that stories still needed to suit the outlet even if the writer was covering a wider range of topics. As such, we have found even more opportunities for brand storytelling and product reviews with media but that doesn’t mean the PR professional doesn't still have to pay close attention to the tone and typical stories an outlet covers. Expanded coverage areas don't preclude effective media relations!

As so many of us continually innovate to serve our clients with expanded or pivoted programming, it remains comforting to know that few things can replace a strong media relationship built on trust, paying attention and asking the right questions to connect the dots for your brands.


Brian Metcalf is the CEO of GreenRoom, a full-service PR and digital agency located in Miami.