Video killed the radio Star. A pandemic killed the media tour.
Recently, one of our client CEOs had a video call with a Barron’s editor. Now, the on-camera conversation is nothing new in modern earned media engagement. In fact, most of our clients have become so adept at the live or taped on-camera interview that when they had to transition to the at-home format, it’s as if they were trained broadcasters themselves. Applause! However, this interview example is different as it could’ve been done by phone. Yet, in this particular case, in these strangest of times, there was a need for the video interview and it goes well beyond just being seen.
Goodbye Media Tours
At the start of NYC shelter-in-place, we thought about what would change about our communications and marketing work. One of the first things that came to mind was the age-old, get-to-know-you media tactic that yields as many meaningful relationships and earned coverage as it does logistical headaches: the media tour. The media tour is the ideal activity for an expert source to develop the relationships with journalists who cover the goings on in their business. It’s also a smart and far more personal way to promote good news.
The media tour is also an opportunity for said sources to establish trust with the journalist who is likely among just a handful of people who produces content for the audience, or customer, that matters most to the source. It’s a press junket or conference that acts more like a one-on-one campaign roadshow. In the best of circumstances, a day of handshakes, excess caffeine and lunches with poor acoustics in New York City restaurants stimulates on-the-record conversations that stoke near- and long-term ideas that lead to compelling coverage for a brand.
Three months ago, we wouldn’t have questioned any of that and now the model is inherently flawed. Who in the next 12-18 months (and likely much longer) would go through what it takes to get to and experience a densely populated city for business meetings? This has to mean the death of the media tour, right? Not exactly.
Long Live Media Tours
This is where we get to what Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella called the “reimagining” phase of the workplace and the media tour reimagined could still happen. The obviousness of its future reliant of video interviews aside, here is what the comms pro and the expert source need to consider when doing remote media tours, which are soon to be the thing.
Human Connection Matters More Than Ever
There’s something to be said about that interpersonal connection that happens when people sit around the same table and talk sans tech. If a journalist is willing to reserve the time to talk to a source on camera, something that in most cases could be achieved by a phone call, make sure there’s time for informal conversation whether it’s about the books behind someone, or the bad lighting or what hobbies they developed during shelter-in-place.
Sharing Is, Well – As much as it is a conversation, think of the video interview more as a presentation. Cue the screen share. What information, as a source, are you bringing to the interview and how can you show what’s in front of you to illustrate support of a thesis to a journalist. In financial services that’s often achieved with tables and charts. We used to bring these to meetings with limitations and now there are no limits to what you can share. (Unless compliance says otherwise, of course.)
You’re An Instant Omni-Channel Star – In this way, a video can be no different than a recorded / taped broadcast segment. A journalist has the option to record a full on-camera meeting if the expert source approves the recording. That recording, depending on the outlet, could be repurposed as media coverage later on any number of channels such as LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter. As always, the interview terms should be discussed in advance.
Every Interview Could Be as Colorful as a Feature Story – You’ve read the New York Times or Rolling Stone magazine profiles. There are few places in print journalism more conducive to the color coordination of words. Every celebrity interview references, sometimes with picture perfect detail, the setting of the reporter – movie star conversation. That ancillary detail lends itself to the anecdotal style of those types of articles. We’re not accustomed to that detail in financial services and yet we’ve already had clients share and have published seemingly insignificant information about their shelter-in-place surroundings or their at-home workout routine.
None of this is the forever change as we see it and there will be plenty of back-and-forth in the usual modes of communication. For a time, this is how we have to think as we adapt in this particular case, in these strangest of times.