If you’ve got a big story, you’re probably thinking broadcast. We spoke with Camille Edwards, VP and news director at WABC-TV for tips about pitching your story successfully. Edwards manages a team of about 200 covering the tri-state area and the five boroughs of New York City.
“It has to be visual,” Edwards said, right off the top. “To not have thought about this is problematic.”
For PRs, this means designing campaigns with visuals in mind. Some programs will lend themselves to good visuals. For others, give a lot of consideration about how some part of the storytelling for your story can be told with compelling images. If broadcast is in the media plan from the beginning, it’s probably a good idea to include the media relations team throughout. They’ll be doing the pitching, they have the media relationships and know what journalists are looking for, so their input will be valuable.
Edwards’ second tip is “to be concise in your press release.” “Sometimes we get long, drawn out pitches,” she said. “Reporters have short attention spans. You have to get to the point.”
Press releases and pitches should start as a snapshot of the story, putting the most interesting and salient points out front. Have the details at the ready for follow up questions from the journalist you’re pitching. But to start, keep it simple. The client’s big news, a broader news hook, and the aforementioned visual should be the starting point for a broadcast pitch. Stop there until you move to the next step.
And finally, Edwards said, “be flexible.”
“You could have pitched a good story and someone bit on it. But breaking news happens and the story gets killed. That’s just how it happens,” she said.
Prepare your clients for the unexpected. Everyone needs to understand that there are things that are out of your control. And, if possible, try and build some extra time into your story. Some things like a product or campaign launch, happen on a specific day. But perhaps there are different stages to the campaign with separate roll outs? Or issues that the campaign touches on that are evergreen? Leaving room to circle back to get that story on the air could be a useful strategy given the nature of up-to-the-minute news.