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Aug 16 2021

Hard Hat “Host with the Most”

As we slowly break free from pandemic protocols and head back to the office for in-person meetings and watercooler banter, you may be thinking that it’s also time to reconnect with your friends and acquaintances in the media. A media tour can help you promote a new project but, more importantly, it can be an effective way to strengthen your relationships with the writers and editors you want to talk about your projects. The more they know you, the more likely they will be to cover your work in the future.

Here are some suggestions that will help make your tour a success, and keep you top-of-mind with the media:

Hitting the road. You’ll need to make arrangements for getting the press to the site. For individual journalists, offer to reimburse transportation to and from the site. For groups, chartering a mini-bus allows you to control the departure and return of your group—and to get some one-on-one time with key guests while in transit. Establish a pick-up and drop-off location where everyone will meet; it’s a wise idea to emphasize that the bus will depart sharplyat a specific time. (Provide full contact information—telephone, text, email—for several members of your firm for journalists to use in case they’re running late). If an editor or writer must come from another location to rendezvous with the rest of the group at the project, reimburse their travel expenses. Offering bottled water and other beverages and snacks to your guests onboard is not only a considered gesture, it also creates another opportunity for personal interactions.

Arriving on site.If the project is still under construction, make sure that there is ample safety gear on hand for all participants on the tour. Hard hats (if possible, branded with your firm’s logo) and safety vests are a must; if the site is noisy, headsets will ensure that your tour commentary will come through loud and clear. Don’t forget to map out with the best photogenic opportunities, as well as delineate off-limit zones. You don’t want to be caught on a tour of a tower with no access to the soon-to-be-celebrated observation deck everyone is clamoring to see.

Telling the story.Before the visit, map out the tour route and stopping points along the way, and plan your narrative accordingly. In addition to describing key features and functions of the project, go a little further and explain how your design solves problems. Couching this information in the form of questions is an engaging, inclusive way to lead the conversation, and prevents the tour from turning into a lecture. If possible, have a colleague accompany you on the tour who can step in and speak to a special feature of the project, like acoustics, sustainability, interior design, or building performance. This not only takes the pressure off you, but introduces the media to another expert on your team, demonstrating your depth of services. Finally, keep your remarks brief, avoid using jargon, and offer to answer any questions before moving on to the next stop.

Following up.The day after your event, send a quick email—personalized by name—to your guests, thanking them for attending the tour. Be sure to cite any moments or anecdotes that occurred on the trip to jog their memory and keep their mind on the project. Finally, including an offer to the journalist to speak further with the team keeps the channels of communication open.

These simple yet effective guidelines can help to provide a savvy, educational, and relaxed atmosphere for journalists to formulate their thoughts on your project, as well as create a lasting and memorable impression of your firm’s character.