School holidays looming large. Sparse, stuffy offices. Broken air conditioning, and the inevitable British tradition of complaining that it’s too hot as soon as the temperature creeps up above 15 degrees.
Summer is upon us – but how can we make the most of it in PR?
Some of the team recently attended an event put on by Good Broadcast, looking at how brands can capitalise on the summer ‘silly season’ and land impactful broadcast coverage. With tales of filming from inside a gourmet ice cream shop,sun-creaming pigs, and investigating spurious reports of lions in Essex, , the expert panel of broadcast journalists felt the summer period was an excellent time for pitching in those ‘light relief’ news stories.
Below, we’ve pulled together some top tips from the event, compiling insight from Channel 4’s Paul McNamara, Sky News’ Rhiannon Mills and the BBC’s Jonathan Blake on how to find a way into the broadcast agenda in the summer months
- Timing is everything. It can be worth holding onto those human-interest stories for the summer months when the news agenda is lighter. Capitalise on the fact that it’s harder for broadcast journalists to find stories at this time of year.
- Targeting is key. Rather than aiming for blanket coverage, zeroing in on a particular person or outlet can be a great way to make your story stand out and ensure it gets the airtime you’d like.
- Access is everything; exclusivity is everything.
- Media training is important, but shouldn’t detract from the conversation. The discussion – particularly when it’s being broadcast live – shouldn’t be stilted. There may be a particular conversation you want to have and lines you want to stick to, but don’t let your client or spokesperson be too tied down to this. There’s a difference between someone trying to make a soundbite for your piece, and someone who’s actually giving an interview. Journalists inevitably prefer the latter.
- Get your clients’ name out there. If you have someone who is good at speaking on a popular topic, particularly if they are an expert, pitch them out! This is even more true than usual during the summer, when there can be a dearth of good spokespeople.
- Know who to go to. Planning desks are often the best place to hit for events or anything that is already set in the agenda, while reports or timely news stories can go direct to the reporter or correspondent. The journalists want to look good to their bosses, and by pitching them a great story you can help them do that!
- Remember, you’re on TV! Given that it’s a visual-first medium, interesting pictures and filming locations can be a key part of building out your story.
- Consider diversity: it’s a massive issue in the broadcast agenda. Finding a woman in tech to talk about a tech story can give your story that bigger impact – nobody wants the news agenda to be full of lookalikes. As PR professionals we need to be thinking about giving a wider pool of people a voice, just as much as journalists and broadcasters do.
- Call, don’t email – especially if you don’t know the journalist. A cold email, no matter how well-crafted, is much more likely to sit in the inbox unread. If you’ve got a great story, the person you’re pitching it to will pay attention.
- Think about the package. Do all that you can to make life easier for the journalist! This means working your story within the parameters of wider issues and figuring out that killer news hook. Consider the set-up: do you have a location you can suggest, an eloquent spokesperson, a relevant topic to discuss? Having all of this in advance will help increase your chances of landing that great opportunity.
Do you have any other tips to share about how to ramp up your clients’ broadcast coverage during the summer? Let us know via our Twitter.