Home Advisor X To tour or not to tour? That is the question.

To tour or not to tour? That is the question.

By Muriel Guilbert, Account Director, Parker LePla
In these times of economic hardships,where marketing budgets are being slashed and air travel is an issue for many, the question “To tour or not to tour?” arises for a lot of companies who want media exposure. Are there reasonable alternatives that save time and money?

Visiting press and analysts on their turf and delivering your news in person is not only a winning strategy, it also happens to be convenient for your audience because you come to them. Also, the most effective tours include briefings with both press and analysts, preferably with the analysts first so they can serve as references for the press. But taking one or two top executives plus a PR chaperone on the road for a week or two is expensive and time-consuming, so sometimes it makes sense to try and obtain media coverage via other routes.

But, when is the answer, “Tour!”? When you have big news-that is, if you are launching your company/new product; or announcing a major partnership, acquisition or strategy. These are times when positive media saturation is critical to your bottom-line objectives-in other words, the ROI is high.

A well-planned tour takes about six to eight weeks to plan and schedule-this ensures enough time to secure appointments with the right list of influencers. The results-actual coverage achieved-depend very much on the quality of the meetings and the timeliness of the follow-up.

Nevertheless, if you are on a limited budget or your announcement is not bottom-line-critical,here are alternatives to consider. Each has its own advantages and pitfalls, of course, but they all have one thing in common: They all are effective ways to build and maintain solid relationships with members of the press and the analyst communities.

Webcasts
They say the Internet has no boundaries and brings people closer together, so leverage it to “meet” with the media.

Advantages:
· You conduct the presentation once
· No travel costs
· The visual presentation helps communicate your key messages · Press can ask questions on the side and get for-their-eyes-only answers in real time

Pitfalls:
· This method is less personal and interactive than one-on-one meetings · An unexpected technical glitch could ruin the whole thing · High rate of no-shows

Webex demonstrations
Although very similar to Webcasts in format, Webex demonstrations are a more personalized way to get your message to the media.

Advantages:
· Enables you to interact with reporters one-on-one · Higher attendance rate
· No travel costs

Pitfalls:
· Potential for technical problems

Conference calls
It’s easy for you and convenient for them, so pick up the phone: reach out and educate someone.

Advantages:
· An informal, but interactive, way to deliver your key messages · No travel costs
· Requires little advance planning or logistics

Pitfalls:
· Lacks the visual element

Trade shows
Trade shows are great forums to bring vendors and press/analysts together, so make the most of them if you are exhibiting at an upcoming show.

Advantages:
· Your travel plans stop at the show. Once you are there, the press is there with you. · You can take advantage of trade show press room · Allows for face-to-face meetings-in your booth, at a hospitality suite, or over a meal

Pitfalls:
· The show floor is a noisy place to meet. Try to book a suite at the show venue ahead of time where you can hold meetings · High rate of no-shows

One last thought: It seems there isn’t a day that goes by without a magazine somewhere folding. While publications may come and go, the relationships you have built with the press and the analyst communities will survive wherever these people end up.

Muriel would be happy to hear from you. Should you have any questions regarding analyst and press tours, please email her at murielg@parkerlepla.com. Or call her at 206-625-1541.

Muriel Guilbert, Account Director of Parker LePla, has 11 years’ experience in international marketing communications in such markets as customer relationship management (CRM), telecommunications,
healthcare, e-commerce and outsourcing.

A French national fluent in English and German, Muriel currently develops and implements public relations and branding strategies for SoftQuad Software, and Chicago based Protagona Worldwide.
Prior to coming to Parker LePla, Muriel was marketing communications manager at Central Research Laboratories Ltd. (CRL), a UK-based electronics licensing and technology transfer company. She holds a master’s degree in business studies from L’Université de la Sorbonne, Paris, France, and is married with one son. In her spare time,
she enjoys skiing, gardening and cooking.

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