Is an “in-person” meeting with journalists really effective?


One of the key tasks of PR consultants is to meet journalists. Meetings with journalists are inevitable in order for them to communicate with journalists on behalf of their clients. The practice stems from an empirical “belief” that the good relationship with journalists results in successful promotions of the client and its products/services.

In fact, not a few PR consultants witness that the stories they pitched are published in media by the journalist they met. This is partly because the journalist has deepen understanding about the company and industry the PR consultant promoted at the “in-person” meeting, which is more interactive than a brief phone call. Personal intimacy between the journalist and PR consultant may also affect the outcome, i.e. the publication of the story.

It is evident that an in-person meeting with journalists is deemed to have a positive effect on the success of promotion. There are few experts, however, who can explain analytically how effective the meeting would be. Many simply provide explanation of the needs for the in-person meeting based on their own “experience”.

It doesn’t matter only if the explanations are suited well for the context. Their arguments will be adequately convincing and trustworthy. Still, the arguments alone would not seem fully acceptable to those who have either insufficient understanding of PR or negative views towards it. Now, it is time when a detailed basis should be presented based on data analytics.

Fortunately, Prain Global systematically manages the work-related data through the SOMA, an intranet developed as early as in 2001, which may provide credible answers if those data are analyzed in an appropriate fashion.

To find answers, we looked into the data on a client who tended to put an emphasis on the relationship with journalists. Consultants of Prain Global, on behalf of the client, had in-person meetings with journalists very often (have met 1,350 journalists in total on a cumulative basis over the last 4 years, which led to an increase of news coverage). Thus, we thought the data were viable enough to be used for an analysis.

The data used in the analysis consisted of the amount of news coverage and tone (positive, neural or negative) by media, PR Value (calculation of weighted value for Advertising Value Equivalency), and number of times of meeting with journalists, etc.

As we wanted to know correlation between the meeting with journalists and the success of PR activities, a linear regression analysis was performed with the number of times of meeting with journalists being set as an independent variable and the amount of news coverage by tone (amount of news with positive tone vs with negative tone), and PR Value being set as dependent variables. What we found from the analysis are presented in the table below. 

The analysis shows that the meeting with journalists has a positive (+) effect on the news coverage with positive tone, with negative tone, and PR Value all together. Specifically, each meeting with journalists leads to an increase in the number of times of positive coverage by 2.37 times and an increase in the PR Value by approximately KRW 5.75 million (both variables having the explainability of approximately 50%). Meanwhile, it has been found that each meeting with journalists also leads to an increase in the number of times of negative coverage by 0.18 times (with explainability of 22%). The latter finding is in line with concerns among people who claim that in-person meetings with journalists only lead to an increase of negative articles.  

Nevertheless, it is indisputable that the positive effect from in-person meetings with journalists outweighs any negative effects given the significant gap in the increase between amount of positive news coverage and that of negative news coverage after the meeting and the significant difference in the explainability of concerned variables. A conclusion could be drawn that adequate investments in the meetings with journalists would be necessary to disseminate positive messages widely through more media outlets. If the amount of positive news coverage and the PR Value are your KPI, it would be worth gauging the number of times of meeting with journalists based on the aforementioned analysis. 

It should be admitted that the result of this analysis cannot be generalized in that it is based on a specific case. That being said, the data analytical approach, as shown above, may provide another “insight” that can hardly be obtained from mere experience and, therefore, could be applied more generally.