The launch of a company or ribbon cutting can come with some fanfare. The excitement may bring the community out to witness the event, perhaps attract a local politician for a speech or words of encouragement. The quintessential gathering might also draw TV news crews interested in grabbing some visuals and a comment - publicity that can get an endeavor off to a great start.
TV coverage can seem like the stuff of Hollywood, but with the right story elements, your onscreen debut is attainable. It begins by approaching the news desk of your local station, and when doing so, be sure to keep these four things in mind.
What’s your visual appeal?
If you’ve pitched written stories before, the visual element of TV is crucial and one of the biggest changes you’ll need to make in your thinking. More than anything, this is what TV news needs, so you must consider what eye-catching assets you have that will help sell and tell your story onscreen.
This can be challenging for organizations that are involved with “non-physical” items like software, cybersecurity, the cloud and more. How do you convey such intangibles? Well, we’ve all seen footage of a hacker sitting in the dark, their face shrouded in a hood, adding drama to pieces on viruses or DDoS attacks. In this case, you imply the menacing threat – and the story focuses on the solution.
Unfortunately, local stations may not have the time or resources to create this type of imagery. That’s why you need to create B-roll. This is footage you can shoot, or have produced, which the news team can use to visually tell a story. If you can provide it, you make their lives easier, so they’re more inclined to consider doing a piece.
For example, one client was able to offer a visualization of every customer location on a spinning globe, which gave a good sense of the scope of disaster recovery efforts, a messaging point they wanted to make. This can be a powerful visual image that producers welcome.
Similarly, it’s worthwhile getting your organization’s YouTube channel up to date, including exterior shots of your building, slides of the team, footage of your products in progress or in action. We once worked with a producer that asked for permission to use an excerpt of a source’s YouTube video about the company’s history.
On tight news deadlines, video and B-roll resources can make all the difference in securing coverage.
What’s your local angle?
Chances are, local channels won’t send a news crew out if you’re opening a new office in a location far removed from their coverage area. They may use an affiliate to cover it, perhaps hire a crew, but you’d have to be opening a huge facility that in some way was going to have a very significant impact in the community.
For that matter, a ribbon cutting alone, even if local, might not be enough if it turns out to be a busy news day. So, make sure you fit the narrative to what viewers will care about and do so as strongly as possible.
If you’re holding a ribbon cutting for a new location, is there a politician who could make an appearance? Is there a specific district or neighborhood you can showcase where your work is going to have an impact? What state or city regulations play a part in your story that might attract attention?
Then again, if your business is helping achieve community goals or making a nearby area a better place, the news station can help communicate this traction to the people that will directly be affected.
Look for the hook.
Is your story timely?
As graphic as it is, the old saying, “if it bleeds, it leads,” is true. But know that news crews can get reassigned at the last second to cover other breaking news instead, like traffic pileups, fires, high-profile court cases or other chatter on police scanners.
This makes your sensitivity to timeliness even more important.
If your story aligns with Black History Month, Restaurant Week or Earth Day, the combination may offer producers an angle that’d make it even stronger. If your event is one-day only, don’t despair. Communicate the limited time that footage and potential photo ops will be available to producers, but also provide additional options for them to film segments and interviews outside busier times.
What’s your people element?
On top of ensuring great visuals, the “people” factor can’t be underestimated. News desks know the human element will resonate with viewers who will gain more understanding from seeing the direct impact on people.
Is there an individual that can show how they use your product or service and explain on camera why it helped them? Does your story result in new jobs, skills or training for workers? Additionally, if there are complex concepts or technical information, make sure to have a media-trained spokesperson onsite to ensure smooth delivery and clear language for the layman.
TV can be an exciting avenue to share your story. Whether the segment is pre-recorded or live, it can illustrate the real-life benefits and success your organization is generating. News stations constantly need new material, so another tip is not to be scared to look beyond your HQ backyard in case there’s a new customer you’ve helped or a problem you’ve solved in another region.
There are, after all, likely to be affiliates in that location with resources your local station could draw upon. Further, you never know, you could pique the interest of a national news outlet that offers even greater viewership.
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