Break out the databases and the brooms, flacks. It’s Sweeps Month!
The word means several things to many people, but in the world of media, it only means one thing — money. And for the world of PR, it should mean one other thing — opportunity.
You will note every February, May (and July), and November, local TV networks begin to dust off its investigative reporters, gives a raise to its consumer reporters, start to offer more touchy-feely stories before the weather, issue a “three-part series” on such, and acts like the boss is watching.
Because he or she is watching.
“Sweeps” is the time when raises are handed out. Check out national TV. You know how your show breaks for the summer and saves those finales for around May, or before Christmas around November? That’s right. Because people check out for the summer and the holidays since TV doesn’t matter as much. Local networks follow suit, which means flacks have a great opportunity to pull out the greatest hits and, with a little elbow grease, can earn some sweet client hits.
Here are a few ideas how…
1. Capitalize on Trends. If a reporter can discuss what’s hot in the community, and offer different insight doing it, that’s a sweeps payday. What’s big in your market? What is being covered on every TV channel? Find that topic and see where you have a client that fits. Your client could offer that unique insight, so offer it. You can make friends fast in this business, or at least get someone’s attention, if you offer that insight as a scoop. Make sure it’s fresh, will answer questions and provides a new slant on what the community has already seen on the local news. Do that, and you are a superstar. Don’t, and your Christmas bonus may suck.
2. Save the Campaigns for Next Month. Your client may have this great launch, a catchy new campaign or even something they have been wanting to roll out for the right time. This ain’t that time. You should counsel your client to that fact. Sweeps are the time when the reporters earn their money, so they are not interested in novel new app unless it will solve the Riddle of the Sphinx or some such. If you client can piggyback on current reports and topics, now is the time for that. Current news events is where you need to be, so find a way to make your client fit. Your campaign can wait. The hits are waiting on you.
3. Think Like the Networks — No Re-Runs. What’s that mean? Create something new. What is something your client isn’t currently doing? You know sweeps shows up three or four times each year, so determine what you can do for the community that is newsworthy and never gets old. You know your city better than most because you have an appetite for the news. If you don’t, consider working at Mickey D’s because this career isn’t going to pan out for much. What can your client provide that no one else can? Does that thing tie to something that is bigger than you — a plight within the city, a national trend that causes soccer moms to stay up all night and complain on Facebook. Whatever the need, fill it. Whatever the media needs it, give it.
4. Do not SPAM. Now is not the time to develop the proclivity to become a PR douche. Most PR people know sweeps are full of magic, but do harness that magic in your little cane of power from Hogwarts University, it won’t happen with the onslaught of calls, emails and even tweets, “Didya get my idea?” Imagine how many PR people are in your market. Now multiply that times 100 and you may get an inkling of how many pitches your average G.A. (general assignment reporter) gets daily. Trust in your pitch. If it’s good, it will earn some attention. Follow-up once and if you get nothing, you weren’t going to get something so move on. You’ll be respected for it, whether you know it or not.
5. Know Your Audience. Here’s a quick lesson in PR, kids. Most networks (that are full time in this news thing) have three primary news broadcasts — the morning show, the noon report and the evening news. Note the emphasis because it’s there for a reason. Who watches what? Morning shows are watched by business professionals who enjoy the white noise and kids in the home who catch it by-proxy. Noon report are there for the stay-at-home moms and your inclined seniors. The evening news are for families (believe it or not) and those same business professionals. Learn that and pitch accordingly. If your client doesn’t fit in the evening news fodder, but a noon report could do, then pitch. Odds are if it works there, it may appear again over the weekend.
In short, if you understand how the news is reported, you may actually contribute to the news reports. This is the magic of sweeps. Get your Harry Potter on and make it happen.