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Three ways to improve your PR…

Broadcast PR

Broadcast PR is often overlooked by PR agencies and companies alike.  Many agencies don’t understand how broadcast journalists work or don’t adapt their approach for broadcasters while companies are often put off by what they see as a more intimidating media.

But TV and radio remains the most powerful news medium and research shows that that we retain messages more effectively when we receive them from TV or radio.  So how can you get more TV and radio coverage?

First you need to understand the nature of broadcast business news.  It is generally more issues based than print media – broadcasters won’t generally puff your new product launch but if you can reverse your product into a bigger issue such as climate change or the ‘credit crunch’ and demonstrate how it helps tackle the issue, they may be interested. 

Broadcast also requires expert independent comment.  People make stories come to life and if you can explain a story and help put it in context, broadcasters will want to talk to you. 

TV needs pictures so how could you make your story visual?  Think about how you could news camera’s exclusive access and be visually creative with how you present the story.  For example, could the cameras follow your organisation or story over a period of time?  

Finally, broadcasters generally use a two level diary system.  They will have a planning diary for advance notice of stories coming up in the next week but then generally work fairly last minute in terms of pulling together the actual packages for that day’s news bulletins.  To give yourself the best chance of coverage, flag your story up with the news editors a week in advance and then start talking to them again nearer the time.

Learn how to ‘bite the dog’

Look at any newspaper or website, or listen to broadcast news bulletins and you will have come across what we call ‘man bites dog’ stories. 

Increasingly the media wants news with a twist – something you wouldn’t expect to hear.  Reporters generally aren’t very interested in a ‘dog bites man’ story – everyone has heard it before – it isn’t ‘news’. 

One famous example was British Gas telling people to turn on their central heating systems during August to test them, rather than waiting for the cold weather.  Telling people to test their heating in October wouldn’t have made a column centimetre.

This approach also helps differentiate you from your competitors.  But most importantly, if they are issuing ‘normal’ messages at ‘traditional’ times of year they will only ever get ‘traditional’ and ‘normal’ amounts of coverage.  If you want extraordinary coverage it follows that you have to do something extraordinary.

Do your homework

A lot of great stories fail to get any coverage simply because people haven’t done their homework. 

When you are targeting your story try thinking about where you get your news from.  Which media really influences your opinion?  If you are working in a specific sector or region you need to think about which media really influences the people you need to talk to.   All industries have their own trade papers and websites and these will be read more than the national press. 

Next you need to understand the anatomy of the paper.  How does it work, what are different sections, what type of stories do they seem to carry, what are their deadlines and what other opportunities are there eg to submit articles or contribute to the letters page.

Finally, get to know the journalists – what do they like to write about?  What are their pet subjects?  Do they have a dedicated patch?  A lot of trade papers assign journalists to certain sectors or types of stories.  There are lots of expensive software tools available to analyse what journalists write about but you can also use a simple resource such as www.journalisted.co.uk.  It is free and lists every UK journalist showing their most recent articles.