Media dinners 101: Build long-lasting relationships

Sep 06, 2022 Laura Garofalo

Relationships still matter in PR. That’s why we’re back to hosting media dinners for clients IRL. 

We’re not pitching the reporters any stories or trying to get them to write an article based on the dinner. Instead, it’s an opportunity to:

🤝 Build and strengthen relationships with reporters;
🌱 Seed future in-depth positive stories about your company;
🎙️ Position your spokespeople and/or customers as go-to resources;
💡 Educate the press about how you think, and not just what you do;
💬 Gather valuable feedback that informs the media relations program.

These events get you immediate (and intimate) time with the press. It’s a long game for coverage—and worth it—because it improves your chances of better, quality stories over time versus transactional pieces about a company they don't have a connection to.

Here’s what goes into a successful media dinner: 

Be selective about who is invited

It should be a cross-section of new reporters and friendlies across business, technology and trade outlets. We recommend reaching out to 8-10 reporters with the expectation that 5-7 will attend the event. 

Choose an accessible venue

These events work virtually and in person, which is starting to come back. If you’re doing one IRL, find a central, on-trend location that is easy for media to get to and that they will be excited to attend. 

Invite engaged executives, customers and VCs

The key to driving attendance to media dinners is exclusivity and access. Who should be there to best represent your company? They should be prepared to drive the discussion and be ready for questions related to the reporters’ areas of coverage.

Encourage executives to be themselves

This is an opportunity to share your point of view and establish yourself as a thought leader. You can reference cool things your customers are doing, what trends you’re seeing and where you think your industry is headed next. 

Use some caution

We recommend making these dinners off the record, which means anything you say cannot be used or quoted in a story. But that doesn’t mean speak whatever’s on your mind. If you’re unsure, keep it to yourself. 

Leave the jargon at home

That includes your favorite acronyms. Even technical reporters hate them. And if you do the dinner right, you’ll have a variety of reporters coming with varying levels of familiarity with your company and industry. Make it accessible and conversational.

Don’t overlook the details...even the small ones

Will you require proof of vaccination if it’s in-person? Do you have name tags and a seating chart? We highly recommend that you consider these things. The details matter and are a reflection of your reputation. As our CEO Beth Monaghan often says, “How we do one thing is how we do everything.” It’s not her line (thank you, Stuart Horwitz!), but it’s true.

“When no one knows who you are, you need awareness and credibility to grow an audience. The best way to do this is through proactive media relations.”
— Beth Monaghan, CEO & founder, Inkhouse

Related blog posts:
Topics: Media Relations, Storytelling, Events, journalists, media dinners
Laura Garofalo

Laura is the vice president of marketing at Inkhouse.

Read more from Laura Garofalo

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