News hi jacking can be a really effective way to get coverage on broadcast media and can be used as part of your media relations strategy for your PR campaigns. Broadcast news moves fast, so this blog shares our top tips to make sure you are ready to pitch your client for the right opportunity.
Journalists often rely on contact databases when they are finding a guest to comment on a breaking story – but they have to be in their system. We recommend a one page pitch which is sent to planning producers, news editors and guest bookers to introduce your spokesperson. You may want to consider offering them up to be a newspaper reviewer so programme editors can see how they handle live TV.
If a broadcaster wants to use your spokesperson they must be willing and available for interview. This means for a breaking story dropping everything. It sounds obvious but make sure you have confirmed their availability for media activity and that they can easily access a TV or radio studio.
Willing and available just on the phone isn’t enough – willing to do a Skype interview is also important but broadcasters will want a robust connection and someone who is an accomplished performer. The more senior the spokesperson the more likely the broadcaster is to agree to Skype them.
Confirm with the spokesperson that they are happy and confident to answer a range of questions on their area of expertise but brief them to expect to answer questions on any top stories of the day. If they’re not confident to do this they’re probably not ready to be used to newsjack.
Newsjacking can take many forms broadcasters are always looking for locations to film interviews in or to broadcast live from. For example this week sees the 20th anniversary of the first online sale, a set piece in most business programme’s diaries. BBC breakfast were live from John Lewis’ distribution centre – a fantastic backdrop and great PR for them.
Your organisation could work as a case study for set piece news story it isn’t always about breaking news. It may be that news programmes are looking for a small business to feature as part of their Budget coverage.
It could be a more on going news hijack – this summer has been exceptional and during a heatwave there is opportunity for companies to promote themselves and get ‘ free publicity’. Broadcasters tend to look for stereotypical stories ‘ Heatwave triggers biggest sales rise since 2011 as shoppers stock up on barbecues, garden furniture, food and alcohol’ ONS stats also give a good opportunity for news hijacking.
Who should you put up to comment? – our advice is the spokesperson who is most willing and available. CEO’s are the broadcaster’s first choice but their diary time is limited. If it’s a last minute breaking story they’d probably accept a brand manager. Academics and Analysts are also highly in demand for their impartial viewpoints.
Regional radio and TV will always want a local spokesperson to comment on stories. Sign up to the local news Twitter pages to be aware of any stories to hijack that are only relevant for that area.
At Shout! we frequently run ‘meet the journalist’ events, which is a great opportunity to find out how to pitch your spokesperson. Come along to a workshop or a broadcast surgery for more advice on what a newsjack entails and how it can boost coverage for your campaign. Click here to find out more information about our courses.