SOTM Webinar Audience Questions Part One: TV!
Our State of the Media Report just keeps on giving. Last week, our Media Research Team released the report and hosted an hour-long webinar. Now, TV expert Julie Holley is answering our audience’s leftover questions about TV news. You’ll learn an alternative to VNRs (Video News Release), how to cut through the clutter and reach journalists on Twitter and more. Enjoy!
Q: We’re a non-profit still using VNRs. You recommend providing them with any and all materials (photo/video/script), but why do broadcast reporters/producers not use the full package and still request their own interviews/b-roll?
I recommend offering video when you can, if it is something easy for your company or organization to do. In other words, if you are a small non-profit with no one to spare, don’t bust your budget with an expensive production. Of course, these days all you need is an HD camera and a person who knows how to shoot video. So, it’s not as expensive as it used to be. Just be sure it looks and sounds good.
However, I do not necessarily recommend sending pre-packaged sound bites or a traditional Video News Release (VNR). Stations across the country have come under fire over the last few years for the types of VNRs being broadcast. For this reason, some stations outright ban them believing they are no more than paid placements in disguise. That may not be a fair assessment but a few bad apples have helped tarnish the image of VNRs. However, some stations still depend on the material to fill time (especially smaller stations.) When I was a newscast producer, we received plenty of high quality VNRs with real stories that were far from paid placement, but admittedly, we did not always use them.
If you send a VNR and notice the station is covering your story but not with your material, remember, journalists want to deliver real people to viewers not your company’s spokesperson or CEO. Chances are that’s why they are not using the sound bites. I don’t think it’s such a bad thing that the station wants to cover your story by getting its own sound bites and video. That’s great! That makes it even more credible. I would consider that a success. However, if you are still concerned your material is being skipped over; evaluate what you are offering to stations. It should look like news not a promotion full of fluff.
If you really want to send a VNR (script, video, sound bites), call the station ahead of time to see if they will even accept it. But, the mere mention may turn them off.
Here’s what I suggest: Send a news release and generic b-roll only. Be sure the video matches what you are talking about in your news release, looks good and contains shots of what you would expect to see during a newscast. Also, keep in mind, your video is most likely going to be re-edited to match the script written by the news staff. Lastly, you may want to offer the video in a link. Since most stations are using computer servers to play their video rather than old-fashioned tapes, they are very concerned about the possibility of viruses being transmitted through their networks. This has resulted in strict email policies that might cause your email not to go through if it contains large attachments.
Q: Aren’t you going to see an uptick in investigative reporting during any major political race and what do you base your comment that investigative journalism is making a comeback?
The investigative reporting we are referring to covers topics such businesses taking advantage of or misleading local residents or local officials being accused of misusing tax payer money. There could be some politics involved but what we are noticing is more consumer-related.
As mentioned in the State of the Media webinar, we are watching this to see if it becomes a trend. It could be a passing newsroom fad as often happens.
In this case, we are using changes we observe in the Vocus Media Database as the basis for the assertion that there is an uptick in the number of journalists covering investigative news.
Q: What sort of data do you have that makes you think that wading into the conversation on Twitter will help get you noticed by journalists? There’s so much chatter on Twitter it’s difficult to get through, especially to journalists. I’m wondering how much it’s worth my time (and also how you’re measuring that effort)?
I did say that I believe everyone in PR should include social media as part of their strategy. However, I don’t think pitching via social media is for everyone. If what you are doing is working, keep doing it. But, don’t count out social media. Your content, your messaging, your product/company should be present on social media and the Web and information should be easy to access.
Q: I’m just beginning to offer PR services. Do all of these trends lend itself to more opportunities for someone like me with not much track record, or do you think it will be more of a challenge to be ‘unknown’.
The world is your oyster. Just be adaptable and go with the flow as the media continues to change. Be willing to try new ways of sharing your information and most importantly, offer compelling stories.
Q: How much do newspapers partner with local TV stations?
It really depends on the market but I can tell you, stations turn to the newspaper for story ideas as much as they turn to social media or the associated press. So, getting your story picked up by a local newspaper or the AP can result in hits many other places.
Q: Do you feel TV or radio reporters would appreciate a pitch in the form of a sound bite rather than a press release?
If it were incredibly compelling, maybe it would work. It would certainly be different than what they are expecting to see. If you want to try this, I suggest making the bite a part of the pitch not the only piece.
Q: Do you have a list of most popular national blogs? The Vocus Media Database contains what we consider to be the nation’s top blogs that are open to receiving material from PR professionals. One must be a customer of Vocus to view the list and contact information. However, if this is not an option, I suggest you take a look at Technorati or other similar blog ranking websites. This will not tell you what they cover, who to contact or whether they accept pitches but it is a starting point. Just remember, approach bloggers cautiously. Contrary to what might be expected, many bloggers still do not consider themselves public figures and therefore become upset if they are pitched with a news release. I suggest a simple email conversation to break the ice.
Q: What does IRO content mean in your title?
Industry Research Organizations (IROs) are companies that provide objective market analysis and consulting services to a specific vertical industry. Only IROs specializing in information technology are included in the Vocus Media Database. Examples include Gartner, Inc. and the Yankee Group.
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