MEDIA: Why TV has now tuned in to the benefits of good PR

’Never lie to journalists. Never tell a journalist they have just written a really good article ... they hate thinking they’re a soft touch.’ Where was I reminded of these tricks of the trade? For the first time in its 25-year history, the Edinburgh TV Festival held a big serious session on PR.

’Never lie to journalists. Never tell a journalist they have just

written a really good article ... they hate thinking they’re a soft

touch.’ Where was I reminded of these tricks of the trade? For the first

time in its 25-year history, the Edinburgh TV Festival held a big

serious session on PR.



’Love it or hate it, these days it’s a vital part of the production

process, from programme promotion to corporate spin doctoring’ the

organisers declared.



It’s a long overdue admission by the creatives that they need help

pretty badly. PR standards in the TV sector are extremely uneven and

could do overall with a big boost.



Or, to put it another way, those who screw up on PR, or do it badly, are

placing themselves at an all too obvious competitive disadvantage.



At its simplest, perfectly decent programmes can be overlooked in the

multi-channel blur, because no one puts the appropriate PR effort and

support behind them. This is a point of growing importance as digital

arrives this autumn. If programme promotion is done intelligently, in a

targeted manner rather than indiscriminate hyping, journalists will

appreciate honest PR effort.



As for direct consumer advertising: one of the smartest marketing moves

recently has been Channel 4’s launch of text-based screen advertising at

commuter stations reminding home-bound passengers of what’s on, say,

Brookside, that evening.



At a corporate level, if a network sends out confused or clumsy

messages, or does not carefully select the key programmes which are

judged to encapsulate its brand then its standing is eroded. The issue

goes to the heart of the TV sector, which as an entertainment medium

operating under strict rules needs to engage with audiences and the

regulators.



It’s a fact that those with serious PR problems, in both regulatory and

programme areas - Carlton TV and ITV - are facing a PR crunch this

autumn.



In many ways Carlton, awaiting the verdict on its Connection drugs

documentary, does not fully deserve its negative image which unless

reversed could even affect its City standing. It has a good track record

in children’s programmes, regional programmes and tries hard in

entertainment and drama.



If it can rehabilitate its dismal documentary area and reverse the

negative PR, it could recover.



ITV is also effectively relaunching itself. The integrated approach of

Channel 5, which sees PR, advertising and on-screen programme promotions

all in one department has hugely influenced its plans. From this week,

all on-air programme promotions are being made centrally, homing in on

25 or so programmes which ITV wants to push. Time will tell whether

regional ITV companies will really let power be centralised and whether

journalists will follow the lead and write about the favoured

programmes.



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