02 Oct Lights, camera – ACTION! The art of getting clients on TV
TV coverage for clients is the holy grail of PR: it can reach millions of viewers and spin off print and online stories. But it’s no mean feat securing TV coverage and can take hours (even days) to plan and achieve 90-120 seconds of coverage. The management of every client story is different but these Top 10 Tips are a good place to start.
Know the top line
Broadcast journalists will need to know what your story is in one sentence and you will have about 15 seconds to capture their attention. Don’t approach them until you know your top line. If you can’t ‘sell it’, they won’t ‘buy it’.
Pick up the phone
Don’t email before you speak. Planning desks and news teams change daily, and you won’t know who is planning the news for the day you have in mind unless you pick up the phone.
Have your Top Line ready – including notes of who/what/where they can film and what collateral you already have – such as photos and video footage.
Understand the programme
Do your homework – check out the kind of stories your target programme runs. Are they studio based or on location? Pre-recorded or live? What time does it broadcast? What’s the audience demographic?
Think in pictures and sound
Press releases are NOT TV pitches: you have to bring your story to life. What pictures and video footage do you have (all landscape – TV screens can’t process portrait shots/footage!) Who can be interviewed and filmed? What eye-catching activity can you offer?
Monitor news cycles and anticipate topical/seasonal tags and ‘peg’ your news piece to these. Ensure you have an expert speaker able to talk about the topical news issue as well as your client’s story.
Be flexible and ready to move. Fast.
If a TV crew wants your story, drop everything else and FOCUS. They will move quickly and may throw additional ideas and requests at you. Go with it – they know what their audience wants: help them deliver it. Be ready to caddy and crew on the day: many broadcast journalists self-film and will need you to be their runner, microphone holder and props provider.
Be clear up front what a client can/can’t do and will/won’t say. Make sure the journalist and client are clear on this from the outset.
Getting the message across
Your client will only have a few minutes to get their message across and won’t be in control of the script. Prepare two or three key messages which are simple, jargon-free and clear. Focus on getting these in. If you’re lucky, you can brief the journalist to ask a question to lead to the key message as the answer. More usually, your client will need to listen carefully for a ‘cue’ to bring their message in. They may need training and practice to know how to cut into the interview and ‘place’ their message neatly and nicely.
TV is an unforgiving medium: wear plain colours, avoid fussy or low necklines, don’t wear sparkly jewellery that will ‘glint’ at the camera. Sit or stand upright and pull your shoulders down (they often rise when people are nervous). Smile – the camera will like it and your voice will sound confident and positive.
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