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The Do’s and Don’ts from New England’s Top Broadcasters

Oct 22, 2010 8:36 AM / by PAN Communications

Publicity Club of New England held a great event in Newton yesterday evening, “Securing TV Coverage in a Major Market.” PAN Communications attended and heard tips and advice from some of the top broadcasters in New England. The broadcasters shared valuable insight on how a public relations professional can most efficiently secure coverage. Panelists included Jack Auresto, Planning Manager at FOX 25; Lauren Bettencourt, Managing Editor at WBZ and FOX25; Linda Olsen, News Assignment Editor at NECN; and Joe Roche, New Assignment Manager at ABC. The moderator was Fred Kocher of ABC.

As a relatively new employee at PAN, I had only attended one other Pub Club event and wasn’t sure what to expect. I left the event with an elevated understanding of the broadcasting world and, more notably, inspiration to create compelling stories together with the newsroom. On a day-to-day basis, our primary role as PR professionals is to pitch, pitch, pitch (and secure results!). So many times I wonder: is my story getting through? Should I be more persistent? Is today a good day to send a new pitch? I was pleasantly surprised to hear that no, you’re not bothering broadcast producers by pitching a new story each week; and yes, picking up the phone to follow-up a few times is fine!

Aside from the reassurance that doing our job creates no interruption on broadcasters, we learned how to make our news stories rise to the top in a competitive, saturated market.

Here are some of the tips I found most useful:

- Content: the most appealing news stories are visual and relatable. Mix it up and make it compelling!

- Build a relationship: name recognition is a valuable tool that will have broadcasters engaging in conversation more often and it’s the best way to secure your story on the news.

- Timing: pitch your local news story before the morning meeting or send it the night before. Jack reminds us it’s not rocket science; don’t call close to news time and be mindful of the day’s news.

- Do: keep emailing story ideas to the same contact, but don’t pitch the same story over and over.

- Don’t: email then call five minutes later (thanks, Lauren! I’m sure we’ve all gotten a bit too excited and slipped up on this one).

- B-roll: sending b-roll generally doesn’t make it easier. At most newsrooms, the policy is they film original content to have their own news angle.

- Conferences and meetings: tie it to recent news or research; otherwise they tend to be dry.

- Emails: include the location and quick summary. It’s easy to print and easy for pitching the producers. Put time into your subject line, and include details like when your expert is available and when your event is taking place.

- Follow the news station: familiarize yourself with the type of stories, the segments, etc.

- Social media: the newsroom monitors Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. and not just national news sources.

- The Web: everything hits the Web first – a breaking afternoon story won’t be held for the 6 o'clock news.

- Ask yourself: are you going to want to watch this on the 10 o’clock news?!

It was so enlightening to hear advice from broadcasters. I’m inspired to work alongside broadcasters, as a partner and a resource rather than a separate entity. This was a great event from the PubClub and truly informative for public relations professionals. There’s always more to learn in the colliding and ever-changing worlds of public relations, media and marketing!

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