Shawn Nesaw

A goal for many PR pros is to get the message out about their client or organization by landing a segment with Brian Williams or Diane Sawyer. Realistically speaking, the story would have to be not only timely, but also timeless, national and heartfelt in order to gain such high recognition in the media circuit. It’s also important to remember the power of local news, especially in considering small, local businesses and the impact they are making in our communities.
We recently attended a Baltimore Public Relations Council event hosted at WMAR (ABC 2) studios in Baltimore. The event included a panel of the WMAR news crew sharing tips to always consider for TV news coverage. Whether national or local, these tips along with our own experience demonstrating the importance of being strategic and prepared.

Think about the audience

Yes, it’s always important to think about your audience, but when pitching a news station it is equally, if not more, important to consider the station’s audience. Make sure your story relates to their viewers and don’t be afraid to do some research first to see who their key audiences are – what’s the age group, do they skew more male or female, what is the average household income, where is the audience geographically, etc. If your story proves to reach their core demographic the producers and news editors will be more inclined to pay attention.

Visuals are key

When pitching a news story it’s important to consider what viewers will actually see when watching your segment. This is usually the first question a producer will ask you – what visuals do you have? If you don’t have any thing to show the audience then you’ll likely lose their attention fast! In developing visuals, also consider the time of day, weather, lighting, season, etc. A segment on environmental protection at the scene of a toxic waste dump is a great visual, however, sharing the same story in a conference room is boring for the camera and the audience.

Have sound bites ready

Producers and multimedia journalists love when you can make their job easier by having the right people available and ready with ideal sound bits on cue. A sound bite is a simple piece of audio the camera can pick up to run with the segment or over b-roll footage. This should always be something memorable, including an important fact, statistic, offer or breaking news. Having these sound bites ready for the station allows them to film and edit the segment faster and more efficiently, so they can cover more news in one day.

Be flexible

With a news station it’s essential to remain flexible and ready to adjust at any moment. You may be scheduled for a live or recorded segment but the station needs to push because of breaking news that is taking their team to another location. If you’re able to be flexible and reschedule at a moments notice, without complication or hesitation, the station and crew will be more apt to work with you and come back to capture the segment at another time. Don’t forget, it’s their job to share the news with their viewers and breaking news is the most important and timely!