Five tips for pitching to broadcast journalists

When you are thinking about good stories for the media it can be easy to forget that not everything is about the written word. And sending the same press release to a radio station or TV programme, as you are emailing to the papers and online news platforms, could lead to missed opportunities.

Broadcast journalists have some particular considerations when compared with their digital and print-specialist counterparts.

Understanding these, and working to meet such requirements, could boost your chances of achieving that much sought-after airtime.

Do your research

Radio and TV journalists are inundated with PR pitches that would not work for their platform and audience. Make sure yours is not one of those by listening to, or watching, the show first – ideally a few times.

Digital players make this a lot easier than remembering to tune in at the right time. When you have a handle on who the presenters are, and what they are interested in, you will be able to tailor your ideas with more success.

Get to the point

When you approach a journalist with your story, you need to be able to explain it in a few seconds, or in a single sentence – just like a presenter or newsreader would have to do on air. If your story is more complicated, think about how you could simplify it.

Because you’ve seen or heard the programme, you can say something like: “I know Dave your presenter loves his tech and gadgets, and I’m sure he’d be interested in this.”

It’s difficult to know whether to call or email – producers and researchers vary in their preferences. If you do call, make sure it’s not when the programme is on air, when everyone is invariably busy with what’s happening there and then.

For a late-night radio programme, or a breakfast show, you could phone mid-afternoon. For an afternoon drive slot, try mid-morning, when team members are planning content for forthcoming broadcasts.

Enlist a good talker

Make sure you have a great spokesperson who is a clear and confident speaker, knows their stuff – and who will definitely be available.

Most radio programmes and TV shows will want to be confident that the person going on air will sound good – and say interesting things in a straightforward way. They will look to establish this with a pre-interview phone call with a producer.

Think about ‘atmos’ and visuals

For a story to work well on TV, there needs to be a visual dimension. If you have a factory stocked with colourful fabrics, or a production line of interesting-looking pharmaceuticals, and are happy to invite the cameras in, let them know.

For radio, sounds – or ‘atmos’ – can be key. The clatter of sewing machines or hum of forklift trucks, perhaps? Don’t forget that a radio show often needs pictures too, perhaps for their website and social media.

Don’t overpromise

Journalists hate being promised something that does not transpire. For example, being pitched an interview with the CEO, then offered a senior manager when it turns out that the boss doesn’t want to do it.

While journalists will be happy to give you some guidance on the subject matter to be covered, they may not stick to a rigid set of questions. Presenters see interviews as a conversation, maybe with unexpected twists and turns.

Back to all Words

Written by Jenny Gibson

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