I hot-footed it into Manchester for a Good Broadcast workshop all about how to secure national broadcast coverage for your clients and their stories.
It was held at the very swish King Street Townhouse so I was already looking forward to it. Throw in all the cake you can shake a stick at as soon as the lift doors opened, and I was super impressed.
We listened as Natalie Wright from ITV News and BBC Radio 5 Live’s Jim Taylor talked us through the best ways to approach broadcast media in what is commonly (and wrongly) known as the ‘box ticking’ exercise for PRs.
You have the number to call but you’re already telling yourself they won’t be interested in your awesome story “because it’s radio” or “because it’s TV”… but you give them a call regardless because it’s on your media list.
Instead of looking at broadcast media as a dark art and something to be scared of, last night was all about what it takes to get a story on the air, how brands can put themselves in the best possible position to land coverage and the essential dos and don’ts for PRs when thinking about broadcast campaigns.
Here are their top tips…
‘Can you explain your story in a news bong?’
1. Create a standout headline that is simple and tells the story
Ensuring your story does not get lost in the explanation is crucial. If a broadcast journalist gets to the third line of your release and still is unsure what the story is they will move on. Natalie put every PR to the challenge last night of being able to pitch their top line to a journalist in the space of a news bong. To quote: “if you can do this, you’ve got it right!”
2. Be flexible with the availability of your spokespeople
Being broadcast, spokespeople are often required at the drop of the hat and schedules can constantly change according to the ever-turbulent news agenda, so making sure your main spokespeople are media trained and have the flexibility to be available at short notice is key.
3. Being able to offer honest, authentic voices
Having the combination of experts and real-life voices who can add their powerful human experiences will really make the story go far, and for radio stations such as BBC Radio 5 Live, will prompt more of an engaged response from their listeners.
4. Knowing the issues your business is willing to talk about, and making them known to broadcasters
When news stories break and broadcasters are looking for experts who can offer alternative viewpoints to develop the story, it’s a great opportunity for PRs. Business voices on some issues are important for broadcasters, therefore knowing the issues that your organisation is willing to comment on and building those relationships with broadcast journalists is key, so that when the opportunities arise, you are ready to act.
5. A follow up is always worth doing
Despite the aged understanding that journalists get annoyed with the sheer amount of PRs that bombard them will calls, our speakers are surprised at how frequently they hear from a PR about a story and then never hear from them again.
A follow up phone call or email is always worth it, as it might just be a particularly busy news day, and asking the question of whether or not it’s worth changing the day or the spokesperson to make the story work is always a conversation worth having.
One of my main takeaways from the session was remembering that nothing is black and white in broadcast media. Radio doesn’t just mean purely audio and TV isn’t just about footage – it can be a story that turns into a web article and beyond (if it’s picked up by the right person!)
I was sitting there with our various clients at Viva front of mind, slotting them all into place and scribbling away in my notebook.
In short, if we know the story’s good enough then there’s no reason broadcast media would disagree. It might just need tweaking to fit into the news agenda, which, if you know your clients well, is just a case of being flexible.
Digital Media Account Manager