Five Steps to a Broadcast Segment
Local broadcast stations are a great opportunity for local businesses to share about their expertise. Here are a few tips for working with broadcast.
1. Set expectations
There are many parallels between print, radio and TV broadcast, but some things are simply different. Establishing expectations about the way broadcast works is important. TV broadcast stations operate on a last minute basis and breaking news always takes priority. This means that cancellations and unexpected changes are common, so a flexible approach is helpful. In addition, unlike the written word which can be edited, TV segments often cannot, especially if they’re live. There’s only one chance to get it right and share the correct message. Sharing these details with a client or spokesperson when preparing for a segment can help avoid frustration or confusion later.
2. Determine if your story has what it takes
There are a few simple questions to determine whether a broadcast pitch will stick or fall short.
First, is there a strong spokesperson – or someone who could become a strong spokesperson? Keep in mind that the spokesperson cannot be “edited” retroactively.
Second, is your topic newsworthy, timely or entertaining? It should be two out of the three.
Third, is it visual? Broadcast must be visual.
Finally, does your story offer value for viewers? Don’t waste your time on a story idea that will only get you referred to the advertising department.
3. Craft your pitch
The best way to garner interest from broadcast is to make their job as easy as possible. Lead off your pitch with the most important elements of your story. Explain why it’s visually compelling and relevant to their viewers. Stories with strong visuals, community impact elements and entertainment factors will all be of interest to broadcast. Tell them why the segment will be worth watching.
4. Send your pitch wisely!
As with any media outreach, make sure you’ve done your due diligence and researched the correct target. Generally, there are two routes you can go when pitching broadcast. The news desk works best for events or timely news. Pitching the news desk will only be successful with persistency. Stations get hundreds of emails a day and there are often different people working the desk throughout the day. Repeated follow-ups and yes, even a phone call or two, are essential to getting their attention.
The second option is to send a pitch directly to a producer or reporter. This is most effective is you’re targeting an in-studio segment or have a longer-lead story idea. Dig around and research what they’ve covered in the past to see if they topic you’re suggesting would be of interest.
5. Prepare your spokesperson
The average sound bite is only seven seconds long so it’s important for your spokesperson to prepare several short phrases with key messages. Anticipating questions to share with your spokesperson prior to filming can relieve some camera jitters, but this is not always possible due to last minute scheduling. Offering additional coaching around body language and gestures never hurts either.
Self-presentation matters when you’re on television. Direct your spokesperson to dress properly to avoid distracting from the content of the segment. Avoid all black or white apparel and funky patterns. Solid bright colors are the best option (just be sure you avoid green!). Keep in mind the segment topic and location when making recommendations. While it’s important to put your best foot forward, it would look awkward to show up to a sports-related segment in business attire.
Finally, always arrive at the segment location or studio early. Scout out the best shots to recommend to the camera crew to make their job easier. Coordinate with your spokesperson to ensure the necessary props are on hand to enhance the segment. Set them up nicely – and always show logos when possible.
If you want to see examples of successful broadcast segments, check out the ones below.
- Cruisin’ the Willamette on the Brewbarge
- Pairing food and music
- Spring fashion for kids
- On the Go with Joe at Portland Seafood and Wine Festival
- Students experience indoor sky diving for physics lesson