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10 tips for crafting better PR pitches for broadcast

Posted by Jorden Dakin-White on 16th July 2018

A common request from clients based in other countries, like the US or Singapore, is to get their CEO on the telly during a visit to the UK. While not impossible, it needs a considered strategy and an understanding of what broadcasters are looking for.

Luckily, Good Broadcast, a PR agency specialising in TV and radio, held a PRCA event at its trendy office in Buckingham gate this week. During the presentation a few themes emerged, not only on how you can grow a younger audience using broadcast, but also, how their comments can apply to other pitches for TV and radio.

But, don’t take my word for it, most of these tips comes straight from broadcast editors, Jess Bulman, deputy editor of Channel 5 News; Jack Leather, digital editor of Channel 5 News; and Chris Smith news presenter on BBC Radio 1.

Let’s get to it!

1. Manage client expectations early

Most broadcast and digital editors only publish and produce five to seven unique pieces of content per day that isn’t recycled from other news reels. If your client wants a slot in a broadcast show, remind them of the number of slots available and the level of competition, which could be in the low hundreds. The numbers of broadcast content are quite similar to national print publications and many trade publications. Keep this in mind when pitching and developing a story.

2. Plan early

While there are no concrete deadlines or best practices, all of the editors recommended pitching at least two days or up to two weeks in advance. The more time to develop an idea or story the better.

3. Be creative

Don’t be afraid to pitch something different or non-mainstream. Many of the stories that resonate have an everyday feel or are stories with more emotion — things most news journalists won’t talk about like still-births, proposed bills, mental health, cost of funerals and other issues with a lasting impact on families.

4. Think about the audience

This should be fairly standard, but some people still seem to miss it. Think about the audience for your story, will it resonate with a specific age group? Or a specific group of people? Who will not care?

5. Consider the logistics

During the initial planning stages, know what spokesperson you would like to use, where they will be, possible timings, and try to be flexible. You might have the best story in the world but if the camera crew and reporters can’t get there to film it, then it’s a lot of wasted effort. Don’t miss out on an opportunity because you didn’t take a few moments to consider the obvious.

6. Have a good story

Admittedly, this is not a helpful point on its own, but a general tip for determining what makes a good story is to answer the simple questions first, “who cares?” and “why would they care?”

7. Do not try to shoehorn in a celebrity

Having a celebrity in your pitch will not make up for a poorly thought out or non-relevant story. Make sure the celebrity can add a different perspective and speak with passion about your story — audiences will be able to tell.

8. Incorporate a human-interest angle

Consider if there is there a way to centre the story around a hot topic or a social issue with opposing views, or another way to incorporate a lived experience to make your story stronger.

9. Be authentic

Do not try to “sound young” to appeal to a younger audience. Be real. They can see right through it.

10. Pick up the phone

Once you have developed your amazing pitch or while you are still trying to sort it out, call the broadcast team. Ask to speak to the planning team, not a journalist. Be able to answer basic questions and be flexible to new ideas. You never know there might be a slot that opens up or an editor might like the idea and want to run with it.

Overall, try to make your pitch concise, make sure it has legs (basic details sorted), and a way for the story to connect to audience. Good luck and happy pitching!

Jorden Dakin-White

Jorden joined Wildfire in 2017, bringing with her a mix of knowledge across various sectors of PR, including B2B technology, consumer tech, consumer health and beauty, and food. Jorden hails from the United States and before embarking on a career in PR she worked as a freelance writer and for her university paper. Not content with just working full time, Jorden is currently completing an MSc in Communications from Syracuse University in New York and learning to code in Python 3. When Jorden returns to Seattle to visit friends and family, she can be found sipping coffee and shopping for clothes, makeup, books or , even more dangerously, browsing for new video games. A self-confessed techie and gamer, Jorden’s always on the look-out for a new video game — suggestions on a postcard please!