Public Relations

What is a Media Tour (and what does one look like?)

 May 21, 2024

By  Helen Tran


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In the ever-evolving public relations landscape, a media tour has been an instrumental strategy for businesses aiming to secure widespread media attention for their startups or new products.

Traditionally, a media tour constitutes a well-coordinated effort by companies to connect directly with various targeted media outlets across different geographic locations. The essence of these tours involves setting up editorial meetings within significant media markets like Boston, Chicago, and New York or region-specific circuits like the northeast U.S. or West Coast to personally meet with journalists and pitch stories about the company’s latest endeavors. 

While the overarching goal of a media tour is promotional, aiming for substantial publicity to outweigh its costs, its success critically hinges on crafting stories that journalists find worth telling rather than overtly promotional content. A media tour, therefore, is not a mere plethora of back-to-back product pitches but a nuanced campaign intended to sow the seeds of compelling news stories by building lasting relationships with the press. 

With the contemporary media landscape facing unprecedented changes, the key to a successful media tour now more than ever involves leaning on the expertise of seasoned PR professionals and focusing on creating genuine narratives and connections rather than mere product promotion.

How does one plan a media tour? 

A successful media tour involves meticulous preparation and a deep understanding of the media landscape. When working with a PR agency, the process typically includes the following steps:

1. Defining Objectives: Before commencing the media tour, clear objectives are outlined, aligning with the client’s goals, be it launching a new product, building brand awareness, or establishing thought leadership. These objectives guide the media tour’s overall strategy and help select the right media outlets.

2. Research and Targeting: Thorough research is conducted to identify the most relevant media outlets and journalists who cover topics within the industry or have shown interest in similar stories. The PR agency creates a targeted list, and tailors pitches to align with each media outlet’s focus.

3. Crafting a Compelling Pitch: The PR agency crafts compelling, newsworthy pitches that clearly outline what makes the client’s story unique and why the audience would find it intriguing. This approach draws journalists’ interest based on the story’s relevance and uniqueness.

4. Scheduling and Coordination: Once interest is generated from media outlets, the PR agency coordinates the logistics of the tour, including deciding whether it will be in-person or virtual and handling all related scheduling and travel arrangements.

5. Preparation of Spokespersons: The PR agency works on preparing and training the spokespeople representing the brand during the media tour. This includes media training sessions to ensure they are well-prepared and can effectively convey key messages to different media outlets.

6. Follow-Up and Measurement: Following the tour, the PR agency thoroughly follows up with media outlets, providing additional information as needed and maintaining relationships for future opportunities. Success metrics such as media coverage, audience reach, and engagement are measured to gain insights for future PR activities

Partnering with a PR agency for a media tour entails a comprehensive and collaborative process, combining meticulous planning, creativity, and attention to detail to improve the brand’s visibility, credibility, and impact within its target market. The goal is to elevate the brand’s presence and establish a strong position within the industry.

What happens on a media tour?

Depending on whether it is conducted in-person or virtually, the nature of the tour can take on different forms. Still, the core purpose remains to gain media exposure and connect with audiences through trusted channels. Here’s an overview of what a media tour typically looks like:

  • For In-Person Media Tours: An in-person media tour often involves company representatives, such as CEOs, founders, or spokespersons, traveling to key cities where major media outlets are headquartered. Typically, a tour is located in a private room at a hotel or exclusive venue, preferably in a big city or near the airport, where it’s easily accessible for its attendees. 

As the day progresses, the schedule can be very busy with back-to-back meetings with representatives of newspapers, magazines, television stations, and radio stations. 

Each meeting typically lasts 30-60 minutes, during which company representatives present their stories, answer questions, and sometimes demonstrate new products or technologies. In some cases, the tour includes a press conference, which allows various media representatives to gather in one location to hear the announcement, further maximizing outreach. The brand’s PR team is instrumental in coordinating these logistics, ensuring that each engagement is timely and productive.

I recently joined my client on an in-person media tour for a product launch and took notes about each meeting. It was my first time on a media tour, and I was impressed by how the CEO effortlessly shared the product launch story throughout the two-day event. Many journalists were intrigued by the new product and asked thoughtful questions that helped me understand it better. This experience will be valuable when I pitch the product to other publications that didn’t attend the media tour.

  • For Virtual Media Tours: Digital technologies have popularized virtual media tours, mainly when travel constraints or efficiency considerations come into play. In a virtual media tour, the company sets up a series of video calls or webinars with journalists and influencers worldwide. 

The format can range from one-on-one interviews to group presentations, leveraging platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Skype. Virtual media tours offer greater flexibility in scheduling and can expand the geographical reach since neither party needs to travel. While the personal touch of face-to-face interactions might be lessened, virtual tours can still effectively convey a company’s message and allow for interactive elements like live demonstrations or Q&A sessions.

One of our attendees had to join us via Zoom call at the previous media tour event I attended. In this case, we could share our presentation simultaneously on the laptop and have the CEO explain the product as we went through the slides. However, there are some drawbacks to this, as we could not physically show the product and its details as we had with other attendees in person. Although I personally prefer physical meetings, it is reassuring that there are virtual alternatives so that no one has to miss out completely. 

  • Common Features: Regardless of the format, media tours are meticulously planned, with each engagement carefully timed and managed to make the best impression on the media. Press kits and promotional materials are often distributed to provide detailed information and reinforce the key messages. 

Preparation is crucial, with spokespeople undergoing rigorous training to communicate effectively, handle tough questions, and remain on message throughout the tour. The ultimate success of a media tour is measured by the quality and quantity of media coverage achieved, the depth of relationships forged with journalists, and the overall impact on the company’s public image and objectives.

In conclusion, whether conducted in-person or virtually, a media tour serves as a powerful strategic tool in public relations, crafted to enhance a company’s visibility and credibility. By directly engaging with the media, companies can amplify their messages, introduce new products, and share insights, all while building valuable relationships with journalists and influencers. 

Despite the logistical challenges and exhaustive preparations, the potential rewards in media coverage and audience reach make it an endeavor worth pursuing. As the media landscape continues to evolve, so will the strategies behind media tours, aiming to maximize impact and connect companies with their target audiences in the most meaningful ways.

Looking to take your brand on a media tour that generates buzz and sets you apart from the competition? Partner with GreenHouse Digital + PR, your trusted source for navigating the complex landscape of public relations and trade journalism.


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