How do I Land (& Handle) a Deskside Appointment?
Desksides are a great way to get you and your brand closer to media placements and grow your media relationships. If you're in need of a refresher course on what a deskside is, click here. Otherwise read on to figure out how to book a deskside for your own company. Sabina alsorecorded a #PRTuneUp on just this subject, so click here to download our podcast called "How to Land a Deskside, Prepare for It, and Nail It!"
HOW DO I LAND A DESKSIDE:
The fastest way to book a deskside is to reach out to the correct editor at the magazine you are reaching out to via email. Don't know who this may be? We have made media contacts available to you in our Media Contact Lists, and they are organized by magazine, and department that they work in. For example, you could search for an editor at Vogue who specializes in "beauty". Otherwise, read the magazine, and check the magazine's masthead to see who covers your beat (the masthead is the list of names at the beginning of each magazine issue, kind of like credits at the end of a movie). Once you have done your research, and you know which magazines you are going to reach out to, here's a great step-by-step guide to getting that appointment:
1. Create a list of editors from multiple publications you would like to land desksides with, those who cover your beat and product or service type. Do the best you can using Tin Shingle's media contact database, online research, and a little reading to find the fit you think works. Don't worry, if you're not right they will often email you who best to reach out to instead - even more exciting as then you can mention your referral when reaching out to the new contact - instantly validating!
2. Decide to reach out to your contacts by publishing house (Hearst, Conde Nast, Time Inc.). It's best to try to group appointments for the same day, in as close a time frame to each other as possible. This saves you back and forth travel time. Stacking appointments allows you to reach out to several editors on the same day in the same place. Not only will it be more efficient, but you'll get to know which magazines are in which buildings, get to practice your deskside style one after the other, and get much more comfortable with the entire process by the last appointment. Of course not every editor will be able to meet the same day, but do your best to group them in this manner.
How (you may ask) do you do this? Pick a publisher. Let's use Meredith Corporation as an example. Pick the first magazine on your list, and reach out to them with a simple email that is only a few sentences long, introduces you and your product/service/book/expertise, a small elevator pitch about it and what it does, what you'd like to show them, and let them know you'll be in the elevator on XXXX day and would love a few minutes if they have them for a quick deskside. Offer to share your look book and/or line sheets and/or media kit with them, and link to your website so that they can have more information. Do NOT be wordy, if you make it long and wordy on email, they will fear your deskside meeting will be an eternity as well.
3. Continue in this pattern reaching out to all the other editors in that publishing houses that you'd like to meet with (only those that are a good fit), and continue this, rinse & repeat, until you have reached out to every editor at that house. Then move on to the next publishing house, emailing to book appointments for another day.
4. Just as in all pitching, after you email the editors, give them a time to respond, don't jump on them within a couple days asking if they received your email. Instead give it some time, and then after a week or so feel free to check in with a brief phone call. Again, these are busy people so be brief on the phone, state who you are, what you do, and that you'd love to book a quick deskside appointment, but are happy to share linesheets and look books prior to see if you're a good fit for them.
5. When they DO reply, be sure you or someone from your company is available to meet with them and show gratitude for the response and the appointment.
6. Be sure you leave at least a half hour for each appointment, though it rarely will last that long (and don't take it personally these are just busy people), you don't want to stack appointments to close together and run the risk of arriving late to an appointment, or missing one because a prior deskside ran over.
WHAT TO DO KNOW ABOUT YOUR DESKSIDE APPOINTMENT:
1. Prior to the appointment(s) be sure you have organized a nice set of samples or products. If you are a beauty or food company, you'll probably be leaving some samples there so be ready for that. If your products aren't too large and it is as viable for you, bring more than one of each if you do have multiple desksides in one day, just in case someone wants to keep a sample.
2. Have media kits prepared that are housed in a folder and contain your business card. For more on media kit essentials, check here. If you have appointments at magazines ranging from Seventeen to More Magazine, be sure the media kit matches the outlet at which it will be left. Plan in advance to have at least two media kits per appointment to leave behind.
3. Little things not to forget: Be sure you have a professional looking and nice way to carry your products - even a nice bag from a stationary shop will do, but remember that especially with magazines, presentation means a lot! Also bring your ID to get past security, and contact information (phone, name, and email) of all the editors you are meeting with just in case you need to get in touch with them.
HOW YOUR DESKSIDE APPOINTMENT WILL GO DOWN:
1. Desksides take place in different locations at the magazine's office: conference rooms, cubicles, office lobbies - Lucky often has you sitting on couches in their main magazine reception area. Don't worry where they conduct it - this is no sign on what they think about you and your brand, it's just the best space for them to meet you in peace.
2. This is not a long meeting, this is a quick meet and greet, and though some desksides may go on for 15 minutes or more if the editor has time, has questions, you get into a deep conversation, etc, some can last only ten minutes, and again this doesn't mean they don't love your ideas, they are just busy.
3. If Reception moves you to a conference room to wait for your appointment, or if the editor or writer takes you to the meeting space, immediately take out and lay out all of your goods (if you have more than one). If only one item for "show and tell" get it out and ready, give your elevator pitch and story (make sure you share your a ha moment and other exciting things about it), and pass along your media kit.
4. Be sure you speak slowly and clearly, don't rush with frazzled nerves. Describe how your products/services are made or conducted, share your samples or products, describe materials used if this is necessary, and retail pricing.
5. Do not ask the editors if they think you will make it in anytime soon, though you can feel free to ask where in the magazine's editorial calendar they are, what stories they are working on in the next coming months, and just make an effort to get to know how they and their magazine work.
6. Be polite, don't be pushy, don't monopolize too much time, and always show gratitude. After you leave your deskside be sure you thank them and then send a follow up note. Though emails are nice, handwritten notes are even better!
7. Following your deskside, send a thank you as mentioned above. Then wait to see what the editor's reaction is. Do not stalk them and ask if they have decided to use any of your items. They now have you fresh in their minds and if there is a story you'd be a great fit for, they will ask you! Instead, work on your continous outreach with both other deskside appointments, as well as regularly pitching news, new products, and seasonal/trend stories to these and other contacts on your media list.
8. Be sure that with desksides as with all other pr activity, you're tracking your work on a spreadsheet so that you don't lose track of where you stand with different media contacts.
One last piece of advice: the thought of desksides and media outreach can be daunting, but even more thrilling is the feeling when you land that deskside, and grow those relationships, and then finally land a placement. The initial fear of the outreach will dissipate and you may even find you enjoy the outreach! Either way it's a must do, and the more you do it, the more you'll find a system that works for you and the more relationships you'll have with the media who work in your field!
Happy deskside pitching!
Listen to Sabina kick you into high gear to land your first or next deskside in our #PRTuneUp: How to Land a Deskside, Prepare for It, and Nail It!"
About Sabina Ptacin
Sabina Ptacin is a founding partner of Tin Shingle and directs the Tin Shingle public relations team. She is also the co-founder and chief brand strategist at Red Branch Public Relations in New York City.
To hear Sabina teach over your computer listen to our audio classes here.
View all articles by Sabina Ptacin
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