A Former NBC News Producer’s Top Tips to Earn Media Attention
Presented by 4media group, the global broadcast public relations, market research, digital marketing and content communications leader.
For 27 years as an NBC News Producer, I traveled almost 200 days per year to cover the biggest stories of our lifetimes: royal weddings, New Year's Eve in Times Square, inaugurations, hurricanes, Super Bowls, MLB All-Star Games and everything in between.
You learn exactly what to say and capture when you have just three hours to turn around a fully produced package for TV news. Now, I’m excited to help lead 4media group in empowering brands and organizations with content that makes earning media coverage painless.
In the March 2022 print edition of Strategies & Tactics, we teased a few key strategies for your visual story components. Here’s a more in-depth view:
1. Dress the set.
Virtual interviews from someone’s home are here to stay. Frame the on-screen image to balance expertise, professionalism and relatability — without distracting from the message. My daughter calls me “extra” in most areas of my life (I overdo just about everything — from simple party decorations to holiday décor), but there’s one place where I am not extra: the set. Less is more. Simplicity is key. This is the background for a reason.
2. Pick the right talent.
All egos aside, pick an engaging person to share your story — someone knowledgeable, passionate and articulate. (Hint: it may not be the CEO.) If your spokesperson isn’t comfortable on camera, then it will filter through to the interviews and will affect how or if stations use your content. If you’re considering someone who overuses fillers like “um” or who uses too much industry jargon, then either invest in media training for them or select someone else who is more relaxed and colloquial on camera.
3. Include B-roll to align with message points.
B-roll isn’t a throwaway asset; it matters! Just a few seconds of video can transform the audience’s experience. Thoughtfully organize your B-roll to flow with your most likely messaging order and provide timestamps for the news outlet’s producer.
Speaking of message points, now that you’ve planned your visual content and picked someone to deliver the message, how do you convince the producer that your story is worth their limited on-air time? Here’s our advice:
- Make sure that your story is new and newsworthy. Don’t have current data? Conducting a brief survey could be the spark that takes your story from important-to-you to newsworthy for a broad audience. Meaningful survey results can inspire mediagenic headlines and lend credible support to boost your message.
- Do your research. Look up previous media coverage on your topic or a similar one with the intention of finding a unique angle for your story.
- Localize the story to the people, region or market you are pitching so it resonates specifically to them; show the producer or reporter why their viewers should care.
- Finally, don’t show all your cards in your pitch. Tease the story and make it exciting so the producer can be quickly pulled in, but don’t share every detail. (That’s what the interview is for!)
My colleague Risa Chuang, vice president of media relations at 4media group, adds, “The right combination of compelling content, a credible spokesperson and a relevant news angle will lead to stronger viewer engagement and ensure that you're reaching your target demographic.”
Once the interviews are scheduled, your prep work will pay off! The pandemic has forced many of us to innovate. We were proud to offer a fully virtual satellite media tour at the very beginning of the pandemic. Over the last two years, we’ve seen that having the capability to go live anywhere at any time is a huge factor in the success of a news story. If your team can be flexible — whether your interview is from home, a studio or a remote location — all that’s left is to share your story with the world.
We’re also happy to share our downloadable one-pager of Tips & Tricks for Virtual Interviews with you.
Which brings us back to our last tip:
4. Extend the life of your story's life.
The lifecycle of your story doesn’t have to end with the last interview. Using the PESO framework, your strong content for media will optimize your story's strength. Build its impact with an integrated approach, including tactics like infographics, native amplification, influencer campaigns and social media.
When your campaign makes a big enough splash, the proof will be in the metrics, the engagement with audiences, and the overall awareness of your news and its impact on people’s lives.