Great news! The TV news crew has accepted your pitch to cover your client’s story! Now the hard work starts…. The effort you put in on the day to the detail, briefing, planning and managing their time with you is crucial to achieving a piece of coverage that ticks all your client’s boxes but also fulfils the reporter’s underpinning objective to create an engaging and interesting news piece.
There can be a disconnect between PRs and reporters if the TV news medium isn’t fully understood. TV coverage is not the equivalent of a moving print article. Neither is it about getting your client’s logo written large on the screen or seeing the CEO’s best profile on camera. As a living, breathing medium, it exists in context of the wider news bulletin. Branding and time with spokespeople may be more subtle than other coverage, but remember its true value lies in the sheer impact of your story being aired on primetime news.
Here are a few ways you can influence the very best outcome.
Arrive at least an hour before the reporter is due. Use this time to walk the length and breadth of the site – from the approach to reception, all common areas, corridors and outside. Tidy any rubbish and remove anything unsightly. The reporter will be influenced by their first impressions and are likely to rove around for ‘placement’ and ‘cut away’ shots to fill their piece. Make sure anything they choose to film is something you’ll be proud of.
Brief your spokespeople
Remind your spokespeople of their key messages. Ask them a few questions to get them into the right mindset to answer coherently. If they stumble or mumble, think about another way they could answer the question/communicate their message. Ensure you chat to ALL spokespeople – not just your client. If you have a first-person case study, ensure they are equally happy, clear on messages and what will happen. Try a few key questions with them.
Brief the reporter
Remind them of the key story and the spokespeople you have available and make introductions. Take them on a quick tour of the site so they can see their filming opportunities. Clarify the order they want to film and interview people and anything else they want to capture. Establish their timings and deadlines.
Be flexible – trust their eye
You and your client will have a clear view of what you’d like covered but trust the reporter to suggest additional/alternative ideas. They are the experts: given the flexibility to shoot from a different angle, speak to an additional person or mix things up often works really well.
Don’t take your eye off the reporter for one minute. Stay alert to the interviews and the questions they ask. Most PR news pieces will be pre-recorded so there is always a chance to stop, go back, try the answer again or say on camera what can’t be used. Tick off the key messages as they’re said and if any aren’t covered, ask the reporter to ask the question to illicit the answer.
Keep behind the camera for three reasons:
- You can see what they can see – the angle of the shots, what’s in the background/foreground and any details such as crooked ties, tufts of hair out of place, odd angles (eg lampposts or pot plants ‘growing’ out of people’s heads)
- You can smile at and encourage your spokespeople. Some people ‘freeze’ in front of the camera: smiling, nodding, interacting with them will help them relax. If you have any really nervous people, agree in advance one or two signals – eg smiling broadly if they’ve stopped smiling, tapping your shoulders if theirs have risen up their ears.
- The camera won’t stop rolling once the main interviews are done. Your reporter knows that ‘off camera’ or ‘outtake’ moments can be the most relaxed and usable. Be very aware they may keep filming and recording: ensure your spokespeople know this too. Stay behind the camera, on the reporter’s shoulder until you know for sure they have stopped filming.
That’s a wrap!
Want to see your brand on TV? Get in touch! We can help.