Life in high-tech PR is filled with travel. There is no getting around it. From tradeshows to client meetings to road shows to hosting press junkets, travel is just a part of the business. While travel delays are certainly frustrating (let’s just say I had a really bad streak of luck in 2014) and flying cross country and around the world can be exhausting, there are some key benefits from travel that are invaluable.
Time with clients face-to-face is so important. As great as the promise of video conferencing is, it really is not the same as an in-person meeting, especially when you are mapping out new messaging or strategies. The back and forth banter as you work through a topic really does lead to the best results. Tradeshows also provide an opportunity to relax and get to know the people you work with on a daily basis. Many an inside joke has been created in settings such as this – how else would you learn who are the closet Beyoncé or diehard Cubs fans?
The same idea applies to building relationships with the press and analysts. This audience is so important to the work we do on a daily basis and personal relationships can really make a difference. However, these days, press and analysts are dispersed all over the country. A publication can be based in New York, but it’s highly likely the editorial team is spread from sea to shining sea. So what is a PR pro to do?
At Connect2 we do as much as we can to maximize our travel to get that all-important face time with our press and analyst colleagues. As much as budgets allow, we encourage our clients to host a press and/or analyst day at their corporate headquarters. When done right, these events give the press and analysts valuable insight into the company, their customers, executives and product managers they don’t normally have access to. The time they spend on campus can really deepen their understanding of who the company is and what they are trying to accomplish.
There are also great opportunities to have individual conversations with the press and analysts that have nothing to do with the client. I have learned about the ups and downs of the college applications process from an analyst whose kids are older than mine. I’ve also had the chance to hear about a potential career move before it actually happened. All of this makes the connections stronger and increases the chance that my email will get answered over some unknown person.
We also try to have fun with our press and analyst friends. In the past we’ve hosted “No Pitch Nights” at major industry tradeshows. We pick the last night of the show and invite all of the press and analysts that are attending to a baseball game without any clients present. After all the craziness of the week, everyone appreciates the opportunity to sit back and relax and NOT hear about the latest and great product announcement. We’ve even kept it simple and taken a handful of journalists out for tapas and cocktails at smaller tradeshows for the exact same results. We get the chance to learn more about the people we talk to everyday and they get a chance to just have fun.
The opportunities I’ve had to get to know people in person all over the world make the long days and even longer airplane rides totally worthwhile.