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Expert advice – top tips from ex-journalists on securing broadcast PR coverage
As most PR professionals know, getting a story placed on television, radio or online often takes a lot of effort. At Shout! practically all of the media relations team are former journalists, so we understand the challenges that PRs face and how to help secure the best broadcast PR coverage for your brand.
But most importantly, we know what it is that broadcasters are looking for in a story.
Here are some of our tips for securing the best coverage:
The initial and biggest challenge a media relations team faces is to capture a broadcast journalist’s attention early on. As former reporters and journalists ourselves, we all know how our inboxes were crammed full of press releases and event invites, most of which were either too commercial or irrelevant.
It’s always worth speaking to broadcasters about your story, but they are busy and if you can’t make your pitch concise and easy to understand, they are unlikely to hear you out. Make sure you’re prepared with answers to questions such as, ‘Who can I speak to?’ and ‘What else can I film?’ and if you do send an email, keep it brief and explain who is available for interview and where.
We also know what will be happening on the other side of the call – broadcast journalists tend to ask themselves the following questions before considering a story for the day’s agenda/running order.
Why should I care?
Journalists are looking for stories that have an impact on their audience. At Shout! we try to answer this key question for journalists and explain why they should not only care, but WANT to run the story. One way of doing this is to find out what a particular media outlet looks for in a story before you pitch it to them.
Saskia Black, who worked at the news and sports company IMG, gives this top tip: ‘Don’t just email over stories – take a journalist out for coffee. You are more likely to get detailed and genuine feedback, plus you can find out first-hand what they look for in a story. Once you’ve established a relationship with them, try not to ruin it by pitching stories you know they’d dislike – journalists will respect you more for sending over material that suits their interests.’
A news story must have relevance for the time that it is being pitched. If your story is about skin cancer and safety when in the sun, it is going to be less appealing to journalists during a cold and stormy week. At Shout!, our media relations team is constantly monitoring news cycles and looking for opportunities to tie our clients’ news into them.
Claire Gregory, former journalist at Sky News says ‘If you can tie your story to an upcoming event or timely issue – rather than just a product or service you’re trying to promote – you’ve got a better shot of getting coverage”.
How is this new?
When I was a news editor at ITN we’d always be on the look out for a “water cooler” story – a story that was new or quirky enough for viewers to remember and re-tell to their friends or colleagues. A pitch that began: “I saw your story about… I have a similar story” would make your heart sink. Chances are if a story has been covered once it won’t be covered again unless there is a new offering or fresh angle.
My personal tip is: “If it is a story that has already been on air – or even in the papers – try to look for a new angle and offer something that hasn’t been done before in order to secure the best coverage.”
What can you offer?
Journalists, particularly broadcast journalists, are often extremely busy and the more accessible you can make a story the better the chance it has of getting on air. When developing a press release or story outline we think about what can be offered that brings the story to life. This could be visuals, expert interviews or strong, compelling research results.
Catherine Bayfield, former producer of the health slot on This Morning explains: “If we were offered a case study to talk about a particular health story we were so much more likely to run with it. Especially if the case study was extreme – e.g. someone who could die from an allergy, rather than someone who simply suffers from allergies.”
Any release, contact or pitch that follows the above and helps to answer those key questions will have a better chance of winning over a journalist, editor and the target audience and securing much broader coverage. If you’re interested in finding out more about broadcast media relations then download our free media relations guide, or if you would like to put your latest campaign in the hands of broadcast experts, then speak to a member of our team.
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