What can I do to localize a VNR to maximize TV coverage?
With today's competitive TV news environment, each VNR needs more than a strong news angle to ensure placement, says John Gordon of Gordon Productions.
"Many TV stations are hesitant to air VNRs that are generic in nature and don't allow them to add a local angle to the story." That's why it's important for VNR distributors and PR pros to work together before distribution to give TV stations the tools to be able to localize the story.
Preparation is the key to giving TV stations a local angle. "If possible, you should locate spokespeople in as many key markets as possible prior to the distribution," Gordon adds. Experts should be briefed before distribution. Also, find out their schedules, as TV stations may need to interview them on short notice. "When you e-mail reporters to pitch the story, only mention that you have local spokespeople available if the spokesperson is truly accessible at the launch time," he says.
Is there a way that I can guarantee that my (client's) message gets aired on the radio exactly the way I write it?
"Yes," says Joe Balintfy of North American Network. "It's called an ad buy, and it can be an effective communications tool." If you're willing to give up on "earned media" and pass over the increased credibility of a PR placement, there's nothing wrong with buying airtime and having your message run like an ad.
"You see infomercials on TV and advertorials in magazines all the time," Balintfy adds. "In radio, depending on the content of your message, you may get a quick disclaimer at the beginning and/or end of your spot." The advantage to a media buy is that you can tailor your message to specific demographics and regions, including congressional districts.
How can we prepare our managers to interact with community-based audiences?
The best type of preparation is to role-play many of the anticipated hot-button issues that might surface in the discussion, says Jeff Braun of The Ammerman Experience.
"Training that also helps your technical folks understand how to better communicate information to the audience is crucial," Braun says. "Frequently, technical people don't realize how they can turn off the audience with complex technical terminology and jargon." Evaluate the information in each presentation or recommended responses based on the audience's ability to understand it. "Also, keep in mind many times town meetings can be an emotionally charged forum," he adds. "Make sure your team is prepared for those out-of-control moments that could not only disrupt the meeting, but also destroy your company's credibility."
What's the best way to approach a top-market radio station?
"News blocks are morning, midday, and the afternoon drive," says Kat Burnside of Strauss Radio Strategies. "You won't make any friends calling a producer or editor two minutes before air. Typical down times are late morning and early afternoon."
Burnside advises to get background on the station. "Check the Web site for programming information," she adds. Producers will appreciate familiarity with their format and audience. Newsrooms are busy and fast-paced. Be thorough, but condense your pitch to the highlights. Give them the who, what, when, where, and why. And different news blocks have different demands, so encourage your client to be available throughout the day, Burnside notes. A short 7am telephone interview is prime time for radio and worth the wake-up call.