Part of my job in public relations is finding the balance between what the client wants and what the media finds newsworthy. This is no simple task under normal circumstances, but television is a particularly tricky beast. First, you need not only an interesting story; you also need a compelling visual to go along with it. Even if you do have that, timing may be against you: news crews are short on cameras and have a much quicker turnaround time for their pieces than print media. Then heap that on top of the fact your story is up against the waves of pitches from other communications professionals, natural disasters, updates on the national debt and economy, and police reports. With all of the factors to consider, what’s a PR pro to do?
Go inside NBC 10’s morning meeting, of course.
Recently, I had the great opportunity to get a first-hand look at how Vice President of News Chris Blackman and his team work. I walked into the NBC 10 studios in Bala Cynwyd at 9am expecting the caricatured chaos depicted in movies – papers flying everywhere, arguments over which lead should take priority, and every reporter angling for the most speaking time. Instead, I witnessed one of the smoothest meetings I’d ever been in.
A crew of about 20 or so people filed in with their coffees and portable breakfasts. Chris used a white story board to lay out each beat, news slot, and reporter. He went through the list, asking for ideas related to the shore, health, local news, and AP pickup. No one interrupted or tried to shout over someone else; they all just wait for their beat to come around. Chris filled in assignments next to each reporters name and corresponding news program. A map of the day became clear over the 30-minute meeting and before I knew it, everyone emptied out to put together their news packages.
Some of the most important things the meeting reinforced for how I approach pitching broadcast include:
· Always think in terms of local: Apartment fires and shootings air on the news so often because they truly impact the people of Philadelphia and their safety. If you represent a national brand or even a local brand that is part a larger trend, tie all of your ideas back to how they affect the city and surrounding areas.
· Know the right reporter: I’ve said it in other blogs, and I’ll say it again! Targeted pitches are the way to go. Each NBC 10 reporter had his or her time to talk in the meeting, rather than Chris just handing out whatever came in through the news desk. The next time you call the news desk, ask who covers a specific beat and start sending your stories to him/her with a CC to the desk.
· Get creative: There are dozens of ribbon cuttings in the city. Anybody can give a speech. But find a story that involves a grandmother punishing her grandson over bacon? That will get the reporters’ attention. The news team wants (local) pieces that the public will talk about at the water cooler all day. Think outside of the box and make a standard photo opp into something bigger.
Thank you again to Chris Blackman and NBC 10 for hosting me!
This blog post was written by Christine Guerrini. Christine Guerrini is a member of the public relations team at Tierney agency in Center City Philadelphia. A Villanova grad, Christine specializes in media relations, social media and research. She has worked with clients in a variety of fields, including consumer, non-profit, and B2B. Outside of work, Christine is an avid fan of the Arts, whether exploring museums or sitting down with a novel. Connect with Christine on Twitter (@CMGuerrini) or at http://www.linkedin.com/in/