PR Tips For Securing A TV Segment

In PR, broadcast pitching is sometimes underused and overlooked when it comes to securing coverage for clients. From national outlets like CNN, Fox Business or the Today show to local affiliates, a solid broadcast segment can make a lasting impact. Broadcast segments typically have a large and high-quality reach in real time, and they live online and are searchable thereafter. Most PR teams will amplify segments on social media for further exposure.

When pitching broadcast outlets it’s important to note the main differences between the medium and print, and to offer producers the information the need for potential segments. Here are some top PR tips for scoring top broadcast stories.

Make it relevant

No matter what you’re pitching, to gain a producer’s attention, the subject matter must be topical and newsworthy. Pay attention to the news cycle and breaking stories – can you tie your client into a relevant headline? You may be able to use a current topic in the news cycle for your client/brand, but bear in mind that a spokesperson must be ready to open their schedule for a segment on short notice. Producers and guest bookers work on very tight deadlines, so a fast pitch and even faster response are often essential.

Local vs. national

Are you pitching local news or national? For local affiliates, it’s best to tie the story into a local angle, as that’s what local outlets cover. When you want to target a specific part of the country, regional broadcast is the way to go. National segments are reserved for wider announcements that typically appeal to a national audience, of course. Producers and assignment editors are looking for stories that tie into current news. So if your news isn’t a big story, find a way to tie it to the flow of the news to add the hook for the producer. In our work promoting new COVID-19 diagnostic products, we’re naturally looking for local news outlets where the virus has spiked, which are unfortunately all too common. For a more business-oriented story, you may want to pay attention to regional statistics on employment, spending, and consumer confidence, for example.

Spell it out

When pitching a producer, make the necessary segment points clear. Before the producer even has to ask, you should provide information needed such as expert spokesperson bio, images, b-roll, company description or boilerplate, sample talking points and links to previous interviews the spokesperson has done so the producer can see how they appear on camera. Give the producer any relevant information to make them understand the who, what, and why of a potential segment. Providing any necessary information upfront is more likely to draw the producer’s attention and approval and save on subsequent back-and-forth email exchanges. 

Use the newsdesk

Always send the pitch and relevant news directly to the station’s newsdesk. The newsdesk is the department of a broadcasting organization responsible for collecting and reporting the news. The reporters at the newsdesk make sure any relevant/interesting news that comes in is presented in the station’s morning meeting and possibly selected for segments. It’s important to pitch your story early before the stations have their daily meetings. If you don’t hear back from them, pick up the phone and call them to make sure they received your email!

Know the producers beat

As with any kind of media pitching, it’s best to take the time to research and learn who would be the best person(s) to receive your pitch instead of blasting the pitch to a wide list of contacts. Research the producers, review their last segment, and find out what they typically work on that might be a fit for your story. You can even personalize your note and mention their latest segment in your email. This will help your pitch stand out and they’ll realize that you took the time to do some research before sending a “cold” email. A strong first impression can help build a lasting relationship which may mean additional segment opportunities – a win-win.

Follow up

Producers receive many pitches in a given day, and it’s hard to keep track of everything they receive. They may be interested in your story but get quickly sidetracked by another email or query. There’s a school of thought that PR people shouldn’t bother media after sending a pitch because they risk being annoying. But in the real world, we recommend following up, and if you don’t hear back, consider a phone call. If you have a quality story idea in mind, it will pay to be respectfully persistent.

Halloween Costume Ideas For PR People

It’s that magical and very busy time of year when PR agencies are prepping for the holiday season and are happy for a fun distraction. Halloween allows us to celebrate, or make a mockery of, our heroes in PR, journalism, and media. Here are some ideas for PR-relevant costumes for Halloween 2018.

Beyond superheroes… though we are!

Woodward and Bernstein ride again

This costume allows a pair of PR buddies to pay homage to the fourth estate while also going vintage 1970s. Grab a friend and study All The President’s Men for inspiration. It’ll be about fat ties, rolled-up sleeves, big hair, and sideburns. And if you have a jowly, dark-stubbled friend, bring him along as Richard Nixon.

For a PR pro determined to salute friends in the media with a little humor, Ron Burgundy from Anchorman: Legend of Ron Burgundy is a solid alternative, and Halloween shops still sell that costume!

halloween costume ideas for PR people

halloween costume ideas for PR people

Megyn Kelly (but no blackface!)

Talk about topical: PR and media types can dial up the snark by showing up dressed as TV pundit Megyn Kelly – but, please, not in blackface! This week, in a discussion about a report that some universities were banning such costumes, Kelly opined that blackface for Halloween is not a racist trope, sparking a backlash. Yesterday she offered a teary apology on the air. She must have known she was being provocative; was it just a bid for publicity to boost her ratings? In any case, Kelly isn’t long at NBC, so maybe add a “freelance” press i.d.

best Halloween costume ideas for PR people

Can you ‘handle’ Olivia Pope?

2018 said goodbye to “Scandal,” so if you feel you can pull it off, why not salute the recently retired queen of crisis PR, Olivia Pope? You’ll be unmistakable in a wrap or trench coat, knockoff Prada handbag, and impeccably shiny ‘do. Most importantly, carry an air of hauteur and BYOW; to be pegged as Ms. Pope, you need your own glass of red wine! (You can even opt for her go-to Camille from Crate & Barrel.)
Finally, it helps to be stunningly gorgeous, quiver your lips on command, and bring a Fitz-like date with wavy hair and a chiseled jaw. With that final touch, you can assure yourself and everyone else with Olivia’s famous words, “It’s handled.”

halloween costume ideas for PR people

C.J. Cregg from The West Wing

One of the most beloved fictional PR professionals ever created is the press secretary to Martin Sheen’s President Bartlett, C.J. Cregg, played by the great Allison Janney. Straight out of Sorkin’s 1999-2006 liberal fantasy of a functional, intelligent government, C.J. makes for a nostalgic PR tribute, especially if you’re a statuesque, fast-talking female. The little girl pictured here got it right on the money with her lanyard, power suit, and moxie. West Wing watchers will remember that C.J. should always be holding a leather folder and a stack of papers of indeterminate purpose while walking swiftly. (The crossed-arms posture for either Pope or Cregg is optional.)

Pearls make the SHS

Love her or hate her, our current White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders makes a fun costume. Simply grab a long brown wig, string of pearls, sensible knit dress, and a flag pin for good measure. If you really want to go all out, pencil on heavy eyebrows and carry a cardboard podium.
It’s always good to get in character to enliven your costume. For Huckabee Sanders, deepen your voice, let your drawl out, and scowl. But PR people, be cautious which parties you attend in this outfit. Aidy Bryant does an amazing SHS on Saturday Night Live. So did this gentleman pictured here.

halloween costume ideas for PR people

Mark Zuckerberg as Big Tech

Zuckerberg’s public image used to come mainly from the film The Social Network, but now it’s more likely to resemble his seemingly continual TV apologia and Capitol Hill testimony. Facebook’s founder has become a major face of Big Tech in crisis for 2018, so the costume is perfect for the PR person. Grab a curling iron, a suit (or a hoodie and sandals for the pre-2016 Zuck), and be prepared to explain why you allowed people’s data to be stolen. If you can’t get your hair to curl, consider a solid alternative PR crisis costume and go as Elon Musk with a vape.

costume ideas for PR people

Halloween and the City

A PR person can’t go wrong by going to the Halloween party as Samantha Jones from Sex and The City. While she may not be the most topical PR character, or even an accurate stereotype ( though her affinity for cocktails is right on), she may be the most famous fictional PR pro. Part of the fun of this costume is the throwback fashion and the requisite martini glass. To get in character, add a little swoon to your voice, raise it an octave, and prepare a few suggestive one-liners, like “I’m a try-sexual. I’ll try anything once.”

bestHalloween costume ideas for PR people

Arthur Page ftw

So you’re the erudite PR person who wants to wow your colleagues at the party by showing up as a godfather of the biz. In that case, dressing as the venerable Arthur Page (1883-1960) may fit the bill. Page, who was an executive with AT&T for twenty years, has left a rich legacy in corporate communications with his famed document of PR ethics, the Page Principles, as well as his eponymous communications association, the Arthur W. Page Society. For this PR getup, pull out a 1950s business suit, spectacles, and the coup de grace, a pipe. But don’t worry if people don’t recognize you. You can educate them about PR history, even if you don’t scare anyone.