As an integrated firm, PR is a big part of our day-to-day work for clients. We’re often asked if a client’s idea will interest a local TV station. Part of earning media coverage is knowing what, how and to whom a story is a good fit. TV isn’t the right fit for every idea. There are a few key elements we look at to best frame a story for local TV news coverage.
Figure out if you have a TV-worthy story
We know your business is a big deal to you, but the reality is that even if you’re running the most interesting company in the world, or hosting an event that is exciting for your organization, that alone doesn’t necessarily make it newsworthy or a good fit for TV coverage.
TV assignment editors are thinking about “Why now?” and “What makes this stand out?” or “What’s the connection to my viewers/readers?” when they’re considering accepting your pitch as a story. Try to think about your situation from an outsider’s perspective – when you turn your local news channel on, what stories are you genuinely interested in, without having any connection to them?
To figure out what might make your story more appealing, consider the following:
- Timeliness. What timely connection makes your story relevant now? Do you have a big event coming up? Are you launching a new product or division that will solve a problem for a certain audience? Is there a national holiday that ties in with the story you want to tell? For example, pitching a cyber security expert to talk about online safety will usually need a clear news hook for a TV news team. In this case, you’d want to pitch a cyber security client to explain data breaches timed around national headlines of a major corporation’s data breach, or around national cyber security awareness month.
- Format. Are you pitching a morning news team or a magazine-style talk show? These are important distinctions that will dramatically affect pitching success. A talk show is more likely to take a human interest or features style story while a news show obviously wants just that – news.
- Provide supporting material. If your story can be backed by facts, especially statistics that support your message, make sure to include those when developing your pitch to the media. Supporting evidence makes your story more credible and helps the producers put a story together much faster.
- Learn what isn’t newsworthy. Things like new hire announcements or events that have already happened aren’t likely to gain coverage on your local news. Consider pitching these to appropriate print outlets instead.
Choose a strong spokesperson
This may seem obvious, but even the most professional speakers can get nervous when it comes to being on TV. Ensure that whoever will represent your company in a potential interview feels confident enough to speak with authority about the topic at hand and won’t go off script in an undesired way. If you have past coverage of them, that can help demonstrate to the station you’re pitching that they’ll be a good interviewee.
If you have visuals, share them
TV is a visual outlet, and reporters are going to be thinking about this when you approach them with a story. If you have supporting props, engaging signage, or B-roll that can accompany your interview, include a mention of that in your pitch.
“No” isn’t always a negative
Be selective about what you pitch and remember that if a TV station passes, not all hope is lost. There is value in building strong connections with media producers over time. By offering solid pitches and helpful content, your organization will be well-positioned when the right story comes along. Even better, often there is a seed of another story idea within your pitch. An interesting spin-off story may be the result of an initial pitch that was ditched. In our world, that’s still a win.
If you need help framing your story, get in touch for a free brainstorming session to talk shop about earning media coverage.