Getting coverage on Channel 4 News can be tricky, as they operate differently to other news services – they’re not afraid to be gritty, to be different and to tackle issues other stations might shy away from. But with all their focus on worldwide grievances, the thought of getting your PR story on air may seem a little tricky, even their ‘fluffy’ stories are typically ‘high-brow’. So here at Shout! we thought we’d use our journalistic contacts and get some top tips from Channel 4’s correspondent and sometime presenter Katie Razzall, who can reassure you it’s not impossible.
Watch Channel 4 News
This one should be obvious, but for many PRs the importance of watching the programme you want to get coverage on is shockingly ignored. If you want a story on Channel 4 News, watch it- it’s the best way to understand if your story has legs for the programme.
Must be relevant
For Katie, her biggest pet peeve is when PRs approach her with a story that’s clearly not something Channel 4 News would be interested in. They’re not inclined to run stories that aren’t relevant, that aren’t genuinely interesting or hard-hitting. So, take it from Katie, really think about your story and if a Channel 4 News audience would really want to watch.
So, who is the average Channel 4 viewer?
According to Katie, the Channel 4 News audience is typically someone in their mid-forties to late-fifties who enjoys watching an hour of the news with a glass of wine or whilst cooking dinner. Surprisingly, Katie says that Channel 4 News also gets a younger audience tuning in too, as often they keep watching the programme after they’ve got their dose of ‘Hollyoaks’. So, our best advice is to think whether your story would target the middle-aged and younger audience and if it does then it’s time to make sure your story is, as the journalists say, ‘fleshed out’.
Got a case study?
Katie’s worked for Channel 4 News since 1999 and she knows what makes a good story, and for her when she’s trawling through PR emails she says it’s hugely important that the stories have case studies. She says if you’ve got an interesting story then find people who that story is really relevant to, as then you have a much better interest in getting the Channel 4 News Team.
Exclusives can be attractive bait
Exclusives are something that Katie thinks really make journalists at Channel 4 News want to engage with a story. Here at Shout! we think giving a broadcast journalist an exclusive comes with risks, but if you have your PR heart set on obtaining coverage on the channel, then perhaps it’s something you should consider. In our view it is high risk though – clearly if a big story breaks yours could be the story that is dropped to make space in the bulletin.
Journalists adore Twitter
Although Katie doesn’t use it to source stories, she thinks many in her office are mad about Twitter. She thinks the journalistic curiousity and preference for immediacy means the social media site offers a great tool for some to flesh out stories and for audience participation. So, as a PR, use the site to interact with journalists and to enhance your story.
Don’t be scared of the big drop
Many PRs will be familiar with the absolute blow when your story is dropped by programmes at the last minute, but don’t be too scared. Katie reckons that Channel 4 News won’t drop an issue based story that really does have human interest, if you story is good and they want to run it then have some faith. Saying that though, Katie warns, as we do, there’s no guarantee.