Platform: Tuning into the future of broadcasting - Ignoring developments in TV and radio won’t make them go away. Firms should be planning around new tech, says Anthony Hayward

The announcement that BBC business journalist Tessa Curtis is moving to Shandwick is a sign that the PR community is recognising the increasing relevance of television and radio.

The announcement that BBC business journalist Tessa Curtis is

moving to Shandwick is a sign that the PR community is recognising the

increasing relevance of television and radio.

With the digital television revolution just around the corner it’s time

for some strategic thinking about how to optimise coverage in the new

broadcast environment.

The fact is, most organisations in Britain aren’t ready. They’ve

generally ignored the revolution in cable and satellite television. They

aren’t up to speed with the broadcasting already in place on the

Internet, and most do precious little to ensure they are well

represented on terrestrial television news. In short, the vast majority

have not developed a broadcast strategy.

Meanwhile, according to data from Zenith Media, 75 per cent of the

population in Europe get their news from television. Viewing figures

from even a start-up cable or satellite service often far surpass the

circulation of many magazines.

Two years after Greenpeace’s controversial television campaign sank

Shell’s reputation - but kept Brent Spar afloat - most blue-chip

companies are still vulnerable to attack from media-aware pressure

groups. Few have crisis-management strategy that specifically deal with

the broadcast media and even fewer are ready to deal with ’virtual’

campaigns on the Internet.

Yet at last year’s CBI annual conference, an embarrassing 30 per cent of

the delegates left the room as the IT seminar began!

The Labour Government is almost certain to allow British Telecom to

develop its video-on-demand, allowing viewers to dial up news and

feature documentaries on their television. The second wave of the World

Wide Web is already giving global, real-time access to television and

radio stations. Organisations must start thinking strategically about

the opportunities and threats they are likely to face and it is up to

company PR executives to take this message into the boardroom.

The process of creating a strategy is straightforward, with five basic


Availability is the starting point and is key to dealing with


Whether it be maximising positive coverage, or minimising the impact of

bad news, company spokespeople have to be available.

Pictures are the oxygen of television. Too often companies send out

everything a press journalist needs to cover a story, but forget the

broadcast-standard pictures television requires.

Speed of response is crucial. An in-house team or consultancy-must know

how to respond and be ready to implement the plan at a moment’s


An international strategy is essential. Unless a business is truly

domestic, it cannot ignore the international media. A business has to be

ready to deal with news agencies and foreign bureaux, or to send

pictures straight to target markets.

The ’new media’ represents the real challenge for the PR


Capital Radio might once have been a London station - now it’s on the

Web, it’s got a significant following in Toronto. New entities like

MSNBC are setting up on the Web as Internet broadcasters.

The cost of implementing a broadcast strategy barely scratches the

surface of an average company’s marketing spend, but the impact, whether

it is at corporate or marketing level, can far outweigh anything

achieved through the traditional print media.

Anthony Hayward is chief executive of Bulletin International and is on

the London Regional Council of the CBI.

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