Arment Dietrich

Deskside Story – What Reporters Really Think

By: Arment Dietrich | November 28, 2007 | 

One of my favorite business magazines just hurt my feelings.

In the December issue of Inc., there is an article about deskside briefings and how overused they are.

I’ll admit it; when I started my business nearly three years ago, NO ONE was doing deskside briefings.  At least not with the reporters we were talking to on behalf of our clients.  So I suggested our clients get out in front of their targeted reporters, in person.  And it worked.  It still works.

But according to the article, deskside briefings are just a fancy way of saying an interview.

“By constantly using different buzzwords, PR pros are doing what they do best: taking something commonplace and spiffing it up with shiny new language.”

That’s where my feelings got hurt.  What we do best?  Spiffing it up with shiny new language?  It’s not an interview.  An interview is a conversation between a reporter and your client about a specific topic or story.  A deskside briefing, which is what they have been called as long as I’ve been in the PR business, is an opportunity to meet a reporter and begin to establish a relationship.  If a PR person is selling it to their client as a guaranteed story, that is spin.

And I agree with Rhoda Weiss, chair and CEO of PRSA.  In this day and age when no one meets in person anymore, a deskside briefing is extremely effective.  Not only does it begin to build a relationship, but if your client and the reporter hit it off in person, the reporter is more likely to embrace the relationship and call your client for trusted source interviews…over and over and over again.

But trust me Ed2010, we won’t be calling you to see if you’d like to meet any of our clients.  Everyone knows bloggers don’t want to actually meet people in person.

  • Jason

    Good distinction! Briefings are one of the best ways to build a relationship with a reporter. Face time, eye contact, and personal conversation can do wonders to convey sincerity, honesty and good intentions; virtues that can unfortunately get diminished among the sea of pitches. They are not interviews disguised with spiffy language. Generalizing like that is akin to calling a screening the same thing as a check-up.