Analysis

Behind the scenes of broadcast news – getting noticed in the newsroom

Lauren Williamson

As PR professionals, how do we ensure our clients feature in the news? Charlotte Grant, who recently joined the Brand and Reputation team at MHP Mischief from ITN, gave some of her top tips on how to nail broadcast pitches in a recent Breakfast Bitesize training session. Lauren Williamson shares what she learnt from the session.

Landing a spokesperson on broadcast news can be one of the greatest hits when it comes to securing coverage. It’s visual, shareable, likeable, and with more of us adapting to hybrid-working, viewing figures across channel-to-channel continue to rise and trump most print circulation figures.

TV boasts some of the biggest names and familiar faces who we rely on to provide us with the inside scoop on the latest headlines. They are the people we trust to uncover what’s really going on and for many, they are the first faces we see in the morning as we tune into breakfast news and the last before we switch off after News at 10.

So, as PR professionals, how do we ensure our clients feature? Charlotte Grant recently joined the Brand and Reputation team at MHP Mischief from ITN, and here are some of her top tips to help nail your next broadcast pitch.

1. Preparing the perfect pitch

When preparing your pitch note, the key is knowing your top line in one sentence. For broadcast media, it’s about clarity and impartially and should include these three things:

Relevance
When assessing if your story is right for broadcast, it’s important to ask yourself why it is relevant and is it going to resonate. You should consider the angle not just for the channel, but also for their specific programming.

Human Interest
Broadcast is an opportunity to tell your story visually, and in TV, one of the main ways to do this is by putting people at the heart of it. With programming across the day, broadcast news is built on its people – focusing on problems, concerns, or achievements that resonate with its audience.

Case Study
Offering the full package in a broadcast pitch can help your story go a long way and it is almost vital to your success. Competition is rife between the broadcasting channels, so if you are not pursuing an exclusive route, then it’s best to have multiple case studies available, offering a different one to each channel.

2. Context and considerations

Highly Regulated
One of the biggest considerations for pitching broadcast news that often gets overlooked is that broadcast media is governed by Ofcom. As a highly regulated programme, the newsroom cannot show any bias to how they report on a story or issue, so it’s worth making your spokespeople aware of this as they prepare their talking points.

News, in whatever form, is reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality” – Ofcom.

Timings
With audiences’ having an overwhelming need to consume information constantly, for example throughon-demand services and 24-hour news streaming, reporting on stories in real-time and showcasing why a story is relevant for now is critical. The newsroom is a high-pressured environment and is extremely fast-paced as they look to break a story before anyone else. It is no good pitching a story for the next day if it takes time to set up and you don’t have the capabilities to provide the right content.

B-roll or not to B-roll?
Having video footage could be another way to get your foot in the door with a producer. Having b-roll as part of your press office bank of assets should be a consideration if you are planning to pitch this media, but be aware that anything overtly branded will be disregarded.

3. Name in Lights

Once you’ve secured the opportunity, it’s important to remember that broadcast television quickly adapts and reacts to the news agenda faster than any other medium, which means your story can be dropped at any point. However, remaining on top of the news agenda will allow you to stay close to the stories that continue to develop and increase your future chances of featuring during a news bulletin. Keep the conversation open, and once a producer is aware of what you can offer, it shouldn’t be long until your name is in lights.