Print media is just one avenue of publicity that is available. Depending on your business or story, radio, TV and online may be more appropriate. In this article, I share my top tips for attracting TV and radio coverage how to prepare for them.
TV And Radio Media
The main differences between broadcast and print are mainly quite obvious and determine the type of stories you pitch and the way you present them.
The same process as I discussed in my earlier article about print media applies.
Firstly determine your news story. Remember that, for TV, you will need a very visual story. If it’s simply your point of view about your particular industry (eg, a comment about the property market if you are a real estate agent), this could still be applicable but you will need to find a visual angle to suggest to the reporter.
Broadcast news, both TV and radio, tends to be more instantaneous than print media, where you have both daily and weekly publications to pitch to. Therefore, ensure you get your news to the media outlets before it becomes old news, while it’s still newsworthy. If your event happened yesterday or last week, there is not much TV news can do with it, unless you find another follow-on angle.
Breakfast and magazine-style TV programs offer more flexibility in terms of news angles, and are not so focussed on timeliness. However, because the stories tend to run for around 3 to 5 minutes, you will need to offer a lot more content than a simple news story.
Radio news is similar to TV news – bear in mind that, like TV news, you need to offer a spokesperson, usually yourself. If you are not prepared to speak to a journalist on TV or radio, and don’t have anyone else appropriate that you can offer instead, broadcast may not be the right medium for you.
The best and most common way of communicating with the broadcast media is through preparing and distributing a media release to them. A media release is also known as a press release or a news release. As we have already looked at what goes into creating and preparing a media release, I won’t repeat it here. But I would like to advise that for TV media, you should also include some ideas for visuals, and for both radio and TV, you should nominate your spokesperson on the document.
What Do You Do With Your Media Release?
The next thing to do is determine who you need to send your media release to. For radio news, find out a contact in the newsroom. If it’s a radio or TV program, the program Producer is your contact. For TV news, it’s the Chief of Staff or the appropriate reporter you need.
There are programs and services, such as Media Monitors’ Media Disk and Margaret Gee’s Media Guide in Australia with equivalents overseas, you can subscribe to that collect the names and contact details of all the journalists nation-wide. They cover television news and programmes, radio programmes, local, rural, community and metropolitan newspapers, national publications, industry publications and the glossy magazines you find in the newsagency. There is an annual subscription fee to access these services year round.
Alternatively, if you already know what outlet you are targeting, you can simply find the phone number online, phone them and ask reception for the relevant person to send your media release to.
With TV and radio media, I always tend to follow up with a phone call. I would suggest you send the media release a couple of days before the event, or before you would like your story to go to air, and then follow up the morning before, and then again the morning of the event.
For TV news, you often won’t know until the last minute whether they will be able to have a crew available. For this reason, I would advise that you select a day that doesn’t attract other big events or holidays. For example, one of my clients, a weight loss franchise, organised the hand-over of a car won by their “Slimmer of the Year”” on Remembrance Day. We didn’t manage to get a TV crew out that day, because of all the Remembrance Day ceremonies that were taking place around the city, and therefore missed our opportunity with TV.
Tips For Broadcast Interviews
Radio interviews can usually be done over the phone, but on occasion, you may be called into a studio. Make sure you are in a quiet place without background noise where you won’t be disturbed to take the call. Have your notes ready in front of you so that you don’t panic and forget your message. Your ‘umms’ and ‘ahhs’ can be edited out if the interview is a recording, but best to try and keep them to a minimum if possible. For your first few, it may be a good idea to practise with family members and friends.
TV interviews can be especially daunting if you are new to them. Here are some tips that I give to my clients who are facing the exciting prospect of a TV interview.
- Reporters will often discuss in general what they’re looking for prior to the interview, but they probably won’t share the exact questions. A spontaneous interview will look and sound better.
- Once the interview starts, present your information in an organised way, keeping your answers brief! Remember that television is a medium comprised of sound and pictures. People view the images while listening to the sound and it’s difficult for the listener to follow complex answers.
- When being interviewed, listen carefully to the entire question before answering. Have your facts straight and your numbers accurate.
- If you’re not sure on what you want to say in response to a question, it’s ok to pause for a moment and consider what you would like to say next.
- Be conversational. If you’re discussing a complicated issue, pretend you’re explaining it to your mother or to a child. Don’t talk down to the viewers, but don’t expect them to understand all the terminology.
- Watch your gestures. Don’t let your head bob or your arms wave wildly, and if you are sitting down, don’t swing on your chair. Try and stay still and composed. The camera will usually be on a tight “head shot” and you don’t want to be moving in and out of frame.
- Solid colour clothing looks great on television. Avoid patterns, especially small checks. They can cause the picture to shimmer which is very distracting. If you are outdoors, white is not a great idea and neither is black.
- Unless the circumstances are very special, you will be responsible for your own hair and make-up. Remember that under lights in a studio, you can look washed out and shiny, so don’t be shy with a compact powder that suits your colouring, even if you are a man, to get rid of any shine.
- Practice a smile and a considered look in the mirror. Obviously be genuine with your actions, but if your presentation is natural, and there are no awkward stand out moments, everything else will flow.
Not everyone is a natural at radio or TV, but there is no denying that nothing beats the thrill of seeing yourself on TV or hearing your voice on the radio for the first time, and the time after that, and the time after that!
Good luck – you may even discover a hidden talent!