A familiarisation or ‘fam’ tour is an opportunity for you to show selected media around your factory, facilities or business environment.
You cannot get away with just walking them around. There has to be a high degree of thought and planning put into such events. Journalists like things that happen and people centred events.
If you have a factory think about what you can show them. Is there anything they can try out for themselves (without contravening health & safety)? Are there some interesting workers they can meet and talk to or interview?
To get a good story out of the ‘fam’ tour be prepared to tantalise their imagination and give them opportunities to find an angle on a story that interests them; so be flexible and avoid saying No!
- Be clear about why you are inviting them
- Have something new to show them, a new product rolling of the production line, a new piece of machinery in action, a breakthrough in research (don’t take them around a factory that has closed for the night or is in between shifts)
- Invite named journalists to avoid a junior being sent as a reward(1)
- Have a prepared route that shows them as much as possible. But be prepared for them to want to wander off and have people ready to escort them but not hinder them
- Have experts there to answer questions
- Identify points in the tour where they can ‘have a go’ so that they gain a real understanding of your business
- Be sure that the staff they meet are sensible and don’t start sounding off about minor grievances
- Be there yourself, don’t leave it to others
- Be prepared to pay all their travel expenses
- Send them a briefing pack in advance of the tour.
On the day
- When they arrive have them properly welcomed and if necessary given the appropriate work-wear and hard hats etc
- Give them a briefing. Don’t make it too long but it should include a description of what they are about to see, who will be accompanying them, any health and safety notices and answers to any questions they may have
- If you have a large group (six or more) make sure that you have one expert for every two journalists so that they can answer questions (especially if it is a noisy environment)
- Make sure they get a chance to ask operatives/workers about their role in the process. But beware planting people to answer questions, the journalists may be suspicious and want to talk to someone who is not being presented to them
- Give them refreshments/meals
- Before leaving give them a pack to take away.
- Check that they have all the photos, video footage and materials they need to write any story
- Ask them what they liked best and least so that you can improve on the tour for the next time
- Monitor any subsequent media coverage.
There is a big difference between knowing the theory and making it happen. For help in implementing your communications practices email us now.
(1) But if you are sent a junior, make the most of it, build the relationship and accept that sometime soon they will be a more senior reporter.