Befriending Broadcasters

Compared to print media, some view the risks of going on TV or Radio as higher, and looking at recent examples from some of the political conferences it’s easy to see the possible negatives, but the truth is that the potential positives of the broadcast media far outweigh these.

This week is the Labour party conference in Brighton and politicians won’t miss an opportunity to create good media coverage to try and grab the headlines. They know that the audience they can reach on the evening news or even on news websites throughout the day can have a huge impact on their PR and popularity.

Of course these TV campaigns may look impromptu but most will have been carefully planned to show Ed Miliband looking authoritative, or to show Ed Balls looking like a ‘man of the people’. Much of this strategy relies on relationships with the media, to make sure they are going to cover the news you want to spread, but no journalist is going to turn up if it’s clearly just a stunt to get some time on TV – even senior politicians know they have to have something worthwhile to say or they will waste a media opportunity, and at worse anger the reporters.

It’s even harder for company executives to ensure they have the right ingredients for a media story, obviously PR advisors will be able to judge whether a story is newsworthy, but sometimes they will still have to work hard to sell-in the idea to the media. Even with the proliferation of 24 hour news channels and online content, it’s not easy to get your message broadcasted via the media. As mentioned above; having existing media relationships are hugely useful for this but it’s also about assessing how and why this impacts a particular audience (it’s no good pitching a technical business story to the BBC’s 10 O’clock news team when it will really be something for Bloomberg) – it’s then about packaging up the story so it has all the key elements that the media need for good TV or Radio. So what specific things is a broadcast producer looking for to make a good report?

• Images – if you can’t find appropriate images or locations for your story, then you should probably think about sticking to the print media.
• Good interviewees, make sure you have someone (or preferably more than one person) who is willing and able to be interviewed or at least provide some comments on camera – remember that it might need to be pre-recorded or a live interview.
• Soundbites – the best interviews will be clear and concise, with a message that is easy to communicate and memorable – this takes time but is really worth the effort.
• New – if it’s been done, said or seen before it’s not going to go down as much of a PR success; try and provide the audience with something new and interesting, this will get you remembered.

There are plenty of dos and don’ts for broadcast media interviews, some of them are common sense and some of them will probably need to be learnt from advisors and media trainers but ensuring you are prepared and can keep your cool on camera will go a long way to making any relationship with the broadcast media a success.

Written by Will Edwards – – September 2013

Share this article