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How to Meet With 10-20 Journalists Face to Face in One Day (Without Losing Your Mind)

At DCI we often represent our clients at conferences with media marketplaces. We most recently attended IMM, held just prior to The New York Times Travel Show, and will soon be at the TMAC Conference in Victoria, Canada. So, what exactly is a media marketplace, and why are they important to DMOs?

Media marketplaces are forums to meet with multiple journalists (anywhere from 10 to 25), face-to-face, in one day. The format typically allows just 15 minutes (or less) to meet with each journalist. In that time public relations representatives can learn about the journalists’ interests, what topics they plan to write about in the future, as well as destinations they have visited in the past and desire to visit in the future. In return, PR representatives share their latest story ideas and news about their destination, as well as information on upcoming media visit opportunities.

These meetings provide just enough time for journalists to learn about you, for you to learn about the journalist, and for both of you to determine if it makes sense to move forward.

The pros

  • A minimal time commitment. Meetings are 15 minutes (or less), so if a publication is not a good fit for your destination, you can walk away without making a commitment, while still collecting useful information in case the publication/outlet is a great platform for your future needs.
  • The face-to-face advantage. If you gel with a particular journalist or publication, the face-to-face connection allows you to arrange a destination visit on the spot and iron out details that might take a month or more to finalize with back-and-forth emails. It also creates a stronger long-term connection.
  • Participation by broadcast media. Some marketplaces such as IMM, draw broadcast producers to discuss their paid placement opportunities. Use this as an opportunity to learn about what’s currently on-air and the associated price tag. Put that knowledge to good use now or in the future when your budget allows.
  • Efficient scheduling. With IMM — and other media marketplaces that use an online software system to book appointments — you may not even need to choose your journalist appointments. Based on your profile and the journalists’ profiles, you are automatically matched with those who (algorithmically speaking) could be great fit for your story. However, if you disagree with any of these selections, you can cancel the meeting and ask to meet with a different journalist.

The cons

  • Occasional time wasters. It’s imperative to cross-check the backgrounds and bios of the journalists who approach you. While most in the industry are professional, some journalists are recycling old material as their latest and greatest work. A quick read of biographical information or a Google search can set things straight.
  • Market saturation. Many freelance travel journalists participate in many media marketplaces; you don’t want to be meeting with the same journalists over and over again. Review press lists as soon as they are available, and don’t be shy about asking for last year’s list for any conference you are considering.
  • Scheduling hassles. For those conferences without software (and even some with), bidding and rebidding for meetings can be tedious, and all the more frustrating when the journalist is a no-show at the event or your meeting. For this reason, we recommend (as always) confirm, confirm, confirm.

Tips for success

These cons aside, participating in media marketplaces is a practice that DCI highly recommends. Here are a few of our team’s pro tips to put you on the path to media marketplace success.

  • In your conversations, start general and work your way into specifics. As with any media interview, if you try to share every little detail, the journalists will walk away befuddled. Start with an overview of your destination, paying attention to what the press is intrigued by and wants to discuss further. Are the journalists hard to read? Ask what they’re currently writing about so you can put your most appropriate assets forward.
  • Don’t overdo it with the table swag. Stuffed animals are adorable, but keep it practical. For example, hand sanitizer was a favorite at this year’s IMM in New York, held in the thick of flu season.Pen drives are useful, and postcards help to remind journalists of your region (and to follow up with you.) But save your money (and precious table space) and skip the cheap sunglasses.
  • Always have water, throat lozenges, breath mints and business cards at the ready. You don’t want to miss out on a great opportunity due to bad breath or a throat scratchy from speaking all day. And bring at least twice as many business cards as you think you’ll need.
  • Follow up — and right away! All your efforts (and rapid-fire conversations) are for naught if you don’t follow up with journalists in a timely manner. I like to send my follow-up email right after the person walks away from the table, or as soon as time and privacy permit. Didn’t have all the information you needed? No problem. Recap what’s missing and tell the journalist when you’ll send it. You both now have a record of what’s next in case your inbox overwhelms you once you get back to your office. Just be sure not to miss that follow-up deadline.
  • Keep an eye out for post-conference information. Pay attention to any updates the organizers send post-conference. These often list timely media opportunities, which can be a great chance to get your destination featured at a moment’s notice.

Have other tips on maximizing media marketplace events? Tweet us @aboutdci.

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