Why your broadcast PR efforts may be falling short (and how to fix them)
News is presented in many forms—from print and online to television and radio—but many don’t realize the intricacies that differentiate these forms of journalism.
Television is a visual medium, and although a print story can come to life through words, a broadcast story needs a more robust set of assets to make it stand out. Understanding what makes for a good segment, be it the best voice to tell a story, a scenic space for an interview, or the b-roll provided to help support, can take your pitch to the next level. There’s nothing more unprofessional than having a news crew show up to an event with nothing to film and having a spokesperson on hand who can’t speak properly, or in a broadcast-ready style, to the issue in question.
It’s the small details that can help you not only land more successful coverage for your company or clients but help you grow your relationships with the press.
Here are five tips to help you take your broadcast efforts to the next level.
1. Know the outlet. Understand the outlet you are pitching. Each and every time you have an exchange with someone from an outlet, try to learn a little bit more about how the outlet operates. Recognize when its production meetings are or its deadline for getting a story on the 5 p.m. newscast. It’s also beneficial to understand its audience so you can provide the proper elements for a good story. You may find out that the bulk of an outlet’s Friday content is actually prepared between Monday and Thursday or that its news director loves automotive technology stories. Every piece of information you learn helps build your relationship with that outlet and ultimately makes everyone’s job easier.
2. Watch the news. Producers and anchors are sent hundreds of PR pitches daily, but how many times do you think they stop and wonder, “Does this person even watch my show?” If you are going to work with an outlet regularly, watch its programs. By knowing what it covers, how it reports and even the specialty segments or reports it produces can help both your written and phone pitches. By simply saying, “I thought your story on recycling last week was very informative,” you are showing the reporter that you are paying attention. Sometimes a simple gesture that shows you care can go a long way. You may not immediately land a piece of coverage, but in the future the reporter is more likely to be receptive to your story than one from someone who is consistently sending them generic pitches regardless of the show’s actual content.
3. Think through every angle. Broadcast producers and reporters are very busy people, so whenever you can make their life a little easier, they will appreciate it. Try to figure out every piece of information they may need to run a segment about your brand, which can include statistics, photos, interview opportunities and b-roll footage. To go one step further, find out their preference for conducting interviews, whether on location or in studio, and find out which b-roll file formats work best for them. When a producer is working on a tight deadline and has two stories in the works, your efforts to make the producer’s job easier could be the difference between your story running or getting bumped. You should also always be thinking from every angle, especially during a live shoot. Clients and journalists alike will want to make changes on the fly and you must always be prepared with a solution.
4. Be solutions oriented. Many brands have great stories to tell, but they are not always fit for a national broadcast outlet. In some situations, instead of simply telling your client or superior that the story won’t work, think about a more localized angle or a way to bring the story to life. Bloggers and YouTube contributors are sometimes just as influential as traditional press and can offer a productive solution. Building these relationships could also be beneficial down the road if the influencer begins contributing to other on-air outlets.
5. Use social media. Social media can be one of your best friends as a PR professional. Twitter and LinkedIn are my personal favorites, but depending on the reporter, you may want to explore other channels as well. You can often learn a lot about reporters’ or producers’ roles by looking at their LinkedIn profile, which allows you to find out about their work history and current role. This research may help you pinpoint what producers work on, which is very difficult because they are behind-the-scenes people. Twitter is a great tool for finding out more about someone’s personality but also allows you to interact and break the proverbial ice in a more relaxed setting.
Have any other tips to share to take your broadcast efforts to the next level? Share with us in the comments below.
Brock Thatcher is a communications professional at Waggener Edstrom Communications in New York, specializing in the consumer technology sector. He and his four team colleagues work as part of a dedicated broadcast team to tell client stories across TV, radio and online video, both nationally and locally.
Photo: News conference via Shutterstock