August has traditionally always been the silly season for broadcast journalists and broadcast PR alike. Kids are enjoying their long school holiday, spokespeople are often away and parliament is on its summer recess. Generally, this means holes in radio and TV news bulletins that journalists – and PR content providers like us – are keen to fill. But not this year!
For the second year running Covid-19 has ensured the news agenda is busier than ever. The easing of pandemic restrictions, the fluctuation in Covid-19 cases and pressure by the travel industry to allow people to holiday abroad means news stories are there in abundance. So how can you ensure that your clients or brand attracts broadcast coverage?
The usual broadcast PR rules apply. Think about what a broadcast journalist wants from a story, then offer as many of these ingredients as possible. That means ensuring the story has a solid top line, that can be encapsulated in a single sentence without drawing breath. Ideally it should be pegged to a particular day – there’s not much space on radio or television for feature stories, therefore journalists tend to deal with what’s happening on a given day.
Having an excellent spokesperson, and often a third party one too, is essential. Broadcast PR opportunities are hard won, therefore a spokesperson needs to be able to balance what the journalist wants in terms of content, with the key messages they’ve been given to communicate.
You want TV? Then you need to think pictures. What could a TV journalist film, or what could you provide them with in terms of B-roll.
For regional coverage, radio or TV, you need regional interest. That could come in the form of statistics from a research story, or a local spokesperson and/or case study.
There is still room for light relief though. Trivial and frivolous, that’s what’s expected in the silly season. But this year it probably needs to be extremely outrageous and/or funny.
If you’ve got a soft, more feature like story then you have a much better chance pegging it for the end of the week. On a Monday broadcasters often follow print in covering harder news stories. But towards the end of the week, with the weekend beckoning, radio and television producers are often looking for lighter content. Just before a Bank Holiday is another opportunity to consider. As individuals, we might want to be making the most of a long weekend, but broadcasters still have programmes to fill.
Make it timely. Car, holiday or ways to entertain the children on a journey are obvious candidates leading up to a holiday weekend. Less so a serious campaign about a life threatening disease – that’s just not the right tone for the time.
Talking of time, allow plenty of it for the story to be placed. Broadcast producers not on air also like to make the most of a long weekend, so don’t leave the selling-in of a campaign to the last minute. There might not be anyone there to answer an email or phone call!
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