Broadcast PR in a Digital World       

Organized by PRSA

Did you know local TV stations air up to 12 hours of news programming each weekday? TV and radio continue to be popular and high-demand media channels for coverage. To stay up-to-date on new developments in this industry, I attended the “Broadcast PR in a Digital World” event organized by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) San Francisco chapter earlier this month. The session focused on the best uses of TV for media campaigns and the roles broadcast media play in digital strategies.

Presenters included:

  Dan Lyons, President of Lyons Public Relations, LLC

  Marcus Gamo, Senior Vice President at Allison+Partners

  Julia Miller, CEO of MediaOne Studios, a DigiPowers, Inc. company

Below are my key takeaways from the training:

Dan Lyons, President of Lyons PR, gave an overview of Satellite Media Tours (SMTs). Dan noted that SMTs consist of 20-30 TV/radio/online interviews done from a single location within a 5-hour time window. The location can be both in-studio or on-location, and the targets are national, regional and local audiences. A good SMT can result in millions of gross impressions!

Dan explained that he uses the “Triangle of SMT success” to see if an SMT is a right fit for a campaign. To create a successful SMT, you need a combination of a newsworthy hook, a talented/high-profile spokesperson, and a fitting location. It’s time to put on your producer hat and think “Does this make for good TV?” If you can check off two of the three sides, the SMT is a go!

How to Secure/Prepare for the Interview?

Send previous clips of your spokesperson when you pitch broadcast media, said Marcus Gamo, senior VP at Allison+Partners. Producers want to see if the spokesperson does indeed make good TV. He said hard news isn’t a requirement for securing interviews for an SMT; rather, you need a good hook and multiple angles to your story. Think, “What makes the audience lean in?”

To create a successful story, he highlighted the following:

  • Who is your audience?
  • What do they currently think/know? (A)
  • What do you want them to think/do? (B)
  • What story can you tell to move them from A to B?

In addition, the speakers stressed the importance of reviewing logistics prior to the interviews. Will the interview take place in a studio with a green screen, or will it be remote?  If relevant to the story, being on-location often has a bigger impact. Some interviews might be pre-recorded, either to deal with the time difference or in cases when you gave major/priority networks an exclusive. All options come with different checklists, and it is important to prepare accordingly.

Leading up to the Interview…

The speakers agreed a brief mention of local issues makes for better TV. Prior to the big day, look for local statistics to use in the interview. Also, make sure to review wardrobe with your client: bright or warm colors work well (blues look great, but avoid greens at all cost), avoid busy patterns, and heavy or distracting jewelry (as you want the viewer to focus on your spokesperson – not what they are wearing).

It is important to express and incorporate messaging, storytelling, and brand in your story. To do this successfully, discuss key messaging points before hand. Make sure there are no more than three main points and brainstorm likely questions. Rehearsing and day-of warm-ups are always successful when preparing the client for what’s ahead. However, remember to prep them that anything can go wrong. Make sure you (and the spokesperson) are aware and prepared to deal with situations as they arise.

3…2…1…GO!

Julia Miller, CEO of MediaOne Studios, mentioned the top three game-day priorities:

  • The client needs to look great

During interview preparation, you and the client reviewed what to wear. In-studio, there will be a hair and makeup professional present to make sure the spokesperson looks sharp (yes, the guys also get made up!).

  • The client needs to sound the best

Be prepared to keep your client hydrated and caffeinated. Delivery counts! Energy makes or breaks a broadcast interview. On average, Julia advises elevating energy by about 25 percent above your norm to be engaging.  Suggest that your client stretch and do breathing exercises between interviews. This will result in a more relaxed body posture/gestures and sound.

Allow time to review key points with your spokesperson between interviews so the key messaging elements stay top-of-mind. Recommend your client to repeat portions of the questions in their answers, as it leads to quality sound bites which the producer will love. Also, coach the spokesperson to incorporate interview tools like bridging, flagging and pause-and-reset tactics.

  • The client needs to have the best quality team present at location

Again, anything can go wrong. If your dream team is on location, they will make anything happen to get the job done.

Post-SMT

Additionally, Dan noted digital sharing and social media is rising in popularity and can lead to great new leads and website traffic. Over 40 stations in the top 10 markets in the country now have social audiences of 1 million and up – sharing video content should be a post-air priority.

PR Pros Go Live on Camera!

Following the presentations, we took part in mock TV interviews. PRSA and the event organizers prepared a professional set-up, including microphones, cameras, lights and a makeup/hair artist.  One PR pro was in the chair answering questions, while another was on the phone whispering questions in their ear. Dan, Marcus, and Julia gave feedback after every interview. Viewing, listening and participating in these mock interviews was fun and informative. By putting yourself in the client’s position, you can anticipate what they feel/think, understand what might go wrong, and what points to stress when preparing your client spokesperson.

Broadcast media is, and will continue to, stay in high-demand. Attending training sessions like PRSA’s “Broadcast PR in a Digital World” are great tools to stay on top of all new developments in the industry.

By Kyra Tillmans

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