How many conferences/seminars have you been to this year? How many more do you plan on attending? How many of those seminars/conferences are for PR professionals?
If you need two hands to count I suggest you stop. A wise PR professional once said (during one of those redundant PR conferences) to stop going where the PR people are and head to the trenches. Go where the journalist are and get to know them. Last month I had the opportunity to attend the 2nd Annual Travel Blog Exchange, a two day “conference” of travel bloggers/writers looking to learn from each other and share their experiences. Overall it was the perfect chance to meet some of the people I’ve gotten to know via Twitter, just like every other conference, but more importantly it also gave me an inside look into the life of a travel writer. In case you’re unaware, this is important to me as I recently started my career as a travel publicist. 🙂
When you’re in the trenches you’ll receive the best unedited and blunt feedback. When attending a journalist meet up or seminar, you are on their territory. There is no beating around the bush. During this specific seminar, I learned what travel writers love/hate about press trips. For example, the next time I’m planning a press trip I’ll remember to add more down time to make sure they can explore the destination on their own instead of creating back to back activities.
Relationships, relationships, relationships. Maybe I’m biased to travel writers but they sure know how to have a good time no matter where they are! Like any great conference/tweet-up you get to meet some of your favorite Twitter peeps in real life. It’s always exciting to meet some of your favorite writers in person especially when you’re a fan of their work. The relationship building doesn’t stop once the conference is over either. I’ve connected with great writers after the conference from reading and commenting on posts recapping the conference, and following the hashtag. If you continue the conversation, you’ll continue to grow current and new relationships.
At the very least, journalists will appreciate the PR professional that invests his/her time to learn more about them and their work. Go the extra mile and I promise those journalists will remember those who take the time to get to know them over the average Joe.
So before you head out to the next PR related event, I suggest researching non-typical events that relate directly to your client. You’ll make great connections and get a better understanding of the industry as a whole. As always, if you’ve attend events like this before please share your experiences below!