Is it best to participate in press preview days, usually with a cost of $2,000 and up, or better to try and get desk-side appointments?
My, what controversy you’re trying to cause me!
I have my own opinions about press preview days agencies that organize these are not going to like–not because I don’t think they’re a good idea. They are–in theory. But compared to the one-on-one of a desk-side appointment, I suggest you save your money and build your own relationships with press.
For those unfamiliar with press preview days, it’s an event, usually organized by a PR agency, where multiple brands are assembled in one spacious location in hopes of meeting the editors of Vogue, O, The Oprah Magazine, Elle and all other publications everyone wants to be in.
Think of it like speed dating, except instead of meeting a bunch of people you may or may not ever want to see again, you’re meeting with a bunch of different editors, whom you really, really, really want to like you.
If you’re a company that’s having a hard time getting editors’ attention, then a preview day may be a good thing for you. You’ll have an opportunity to meet with different editors and can point-blank ask them why the heck they’re not returning your emails.
Or better yet, ask them what they think of your collection, what stories they’re working on, and what they need from you to be considered for inclusion in a future issue.
After the event, you need to make sure you follow up with them because whatever they tell you, they’re probably telling others at the preview the same. They’re only going to remember the company that follows up with them.
This is the best case scenario of a well-organized press preview day.
The worst case scenario is that the preview day is full of people without the influence to give you the type of editorial coverage that makes American Express busy billing their customers for their latest Gumuchian purchase.
Editors are busy, extremely busy.
It was one thing when the Internet became a true media portal, where magazines came to realize they needed both an online and print version to survive. This doubled the work of editors, who now were required to produce content for both off- and online publication.
But now there’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and about 90 other social sites that editors must have a pulse on and for which they must produce even more original content.
They don’t have time to spend an afternoon at a preview day, where they may or may not meet companies that fit what they’re looking for, especially since they already have other companies emailing them regularly with information. Why leave their desks to discover a new company when they just need to sift through their emails?
Hence my preference for desksides.
To the uninitiated, desksides are when you meet an editor at their office (or at the side of their desks) to showcase your jewelry. It’s like a job interview where your job is to convince the editor in the 15 to 20 minutes she’s allotted you why your jewelry deserve to be in her magazine.
Desksides can be daunting. My first one was at W Magazine about 10 years ago. The editor sat across from me, completely expressionless as I tried to delight her in the 80-year history of my client, Mathon Paris. For every smile, joke, eye wink and other effort I made to try to charm her, she just stared at me blankly, giving no hint as to whether or not she cared that Mathon custom-made jewelry for both Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Diana.
I left the appointment feeling defeated–until that same editor emailed me three months later because she was working on a story where what I told her about Mathon fit her narrative. She wanted some product images to accent the article. I quickly got her what she was looking for and we’ve worked together since. She and I are now good friends.
And that’s the real value of a deskside: You’re getting an opportunity to sit across from an editor and personally getting to know her likes, dislikes and what you need to send her to be considered for future editorial opportunities. And when you give her exactly what she asks when she asks for it, you’ll become one of her favorite people she contacts regularly when she needs products for her article.
Unlike press preview days, where you may only have five minutes with an editor, a deskside allows you 15 to 20 minutes to really build a connection. And in those 20 minutes, you can get honest feedback about your collection to use for your future PR strategy.
Having said all of this, desksides are not easy to confirm.
Just as they’re often too busy to leave their desks to attend a press preview day, editors’ schedules often are too tight to accommodate a deskside.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad…
It’s sometimes taken me a dozen emails to confirm an appointment when I’m looking to connect with someone new. But none of this matters once the appointment is set. All that matters is what you do with that time, and how you use it to really connect with the editor.
You still think a press preview day will be better for you? Who am I to try and stop you?
If you have the money to spare, and don’t want to use it to gift me with your Gumuchian “Cloud 9” yellow sapphire and diamond yellow gold earrings I’ve had my eyes on for quite some time, just make sure you’re working with a reputable agency.
Ask for a list of press that’s attended their most recent event. Make sure it’s their most recent event, not the event they did three years ago, which is often a bait-and-switch tactic some event organizers use. They’ll give you a historical list of past press attendance to avoid showing that the A-list editors they’re using to lure you in haven’t attended one of their events since chandelier earrings were all the rage.
Also ask for two or three references of other companies that have participated in their preview day. You’ll want to call them up and ask for feedback on whether the preview day was worth it to them.
Another way you can vet the event is to see if the same companies have participated year after year. If there are different companies every year, it’s safe to bet that past participants didn’t see any value in the preview day and chose not to return to future events. But if you’re seeing repeat companies year after year, then the organizers are doing something right.
Now, if the organizer won’t supply any of this information, I can just about guarantee you that the event will be a waste of your money. Send me the “Cloud 9” earrings instead!
You want my advice? Rhetorical question–of course you do, you wouldn’t have emailed me otherwise.
Rather than invest money in participating in a press preview day, invest time in pursuing as many desk- side appointments as you can each month. Or better yet, use that money to invite editors to drinks or dinner, where you can really bond one-on-one.
The relationships you build with desksides, drinks and meals with press will last much longer than five minutes of face time in a room full of other people trying to achieve the same thing as you.