At a time in history when it seems that every day we are experiencing historical events that have the potential to literally change the world around us, how do we, as communications professionals, break through the noise? Forget the noise for a second, what about breaking through the fear, the hype and the panic to tell a story that might actually affect you, your family, your neighbors? Can we? Is it even possible? Does it even matter?
To these questions questions, I submit that the answer is YES. More than ever on both a personal and professional level, it matters. It matters to me personally to know that there are initiatives, programs, events and just some GOOD news in my community. It matters to me as a professional to know that the local media markets all over the country actually want to hear about these initiatives, programs and events and share them with their audiences. It matters. It’s possible. And we can.
Here at Boom we work with some amazing clients. We have the pleasure to be working with The Entertainment Industry Foundation (you’re likely familiar with their Stand Up To Cancer initiative) on a new initiative: Think It Up. Think It Up is the first-of-its-kind platform to fund student-powered, teacher-led learning projects in partnership with DonorsChoose.org. Our role is to maximize the message through Public Service Announcements on TV and Radio. Our focus is to gain national exposure by way of local network affiliates and media outlets. LOCAL. The key here is connecting the dots on a cause or issue that affects people in a specific community and making a case for the media outlet sharing it. Old school, one-on-one outreach. Not syndication/RSS, not viral, not digital. Just connecting a message with an audience. And it works. It’s not immediate, it’s not snappy or chatty. It’s local media relations.
We were thrilled to see that particular campaign firing on all media platforms this week an landing locally. In fact, in my own backyard. A local tie to the initiative was covered in the Denver Post this week…both their online and print editions of hyper local “Your Hub.” The feature focused on the first-ever Think It Up Live event that took place A Columbine High School (in my own Jeffco neighborhood.) Kids and teachers brainstorming ideas for powerful learning projects that will be submitted for crowdfunding on ThinkItUp.org. This initiative matters, the story matters, and local media matters.
It’s happened to all of us. You’ve come up with a great idea for an event b-roll package that the client has bought into – a giant Baked Alaska in the middle of Times Square that will be devoured by the remaining members of One Direction just before they break up. However, once it comes to executing the event none of the elements seem to fall into place and instead of a dessert the size of a small yacht, it’s an oversized cake that fits into a shopping cart that will be tasted by a food blogger – not nearly delivering the visuals that were initially pitched.
If the event is not executed well or as initially planned, it doesn’t matter how good the story is on paper because it won’t hold any interest at assignment desks. We can make it sound amazing in our pitch efforts, but if the visuals are boring and no one shows up to the event stations simply are not going to use the footage.
So when you come up with an idea for an event b-roll package, be realistic on what can actually be executed before expectations are set too high.
Okay, so now you have the event you know can be pulled off ready to go – do you produce and distribute a b-roll package? Most likely the answer is yes. But take these points into consideration:
- How quirky and visually appealing is your story?
- Is the event too localized?
- Is your event able to tell a story in 30 seconds or less?
- Do you have the first, the fastest, the biggest to add to the visuals?
- Will you be able to make the visuals available by 2-3 p.m. ET on the day of the event?
Let’s say that all of the elements are in place – that means your b-roll is a shoe-in for airings right? Not necessarily – event b-rolls have a short shelf-life and there are factors that could hurt usage of the great b-roll you are offering stations, such as:
- Breaking news – local and national
- Weather stories – snow, heat waves, floods and Hurricanes
- Championship Sports Games
All of these factors take away precious time from news rundown and limit the airtime for your piece. Some factors can be avoided and should be taken into account when planning your event date.
So, is there anyway to guarantee pick up for your event b-roll? Not really. Even if you have a celebrity (A or D list), be sure that the event has all the elements listed above. And, before you commit to your VIP talent be sure take into account that your local newscast has little space for celebrity news outside of gossip (when was the last time you saw a celebrity ribbon cutting on your local news that occurred in another market?) and many times celebrity events are better suited for the nationally syndicated entertainment programs.
And remember if event has no local media coverage – chances are outlets outside of the market may also not be interested in covering the event.
An added bonus to local media covering your event – the local affiliate may feed their footage to their network and then affiliates across the country use their footage. This will be instead of the b-roll that you produced – but this type of coverage is seen as editorial and can lead to increased viewership throughout the nation.
So, in this case – what is the point of spending money on b-roll in the first place? You can’t always predict what will interest the media or if there will be a local breaking news story and none of the crews were able to show up—the b-roll would be all you’ve got—so it still pays to do a b-roll for a big event as a “safety net.” And, remember local affiliates may not have known the footage is even available if it hadn’t been for pitching the b-roll in the first place. Should a local affiliate cover the event, Boom publicists will make it a point to reach out to the affiliates across the country to encourage them to use locally produced b-roll footage.
The bottom line is that the success of your event b-roll package depends on the execution as well as the fickle news cycle on the day of your event. But, the good news is that stations are always looking for a visually compelling, fun kicker story that can end their news cast on an upbeat note.
QUESTION: What is sweeps and how does it affect television coverage?
ANSWER: Start bracing yourself for ratings-grabbing segments, sensationalized series on hidden dangers, guest stars from network programming – basically any news that will help boost audience numbers.
The reason you will see more stunt news casting and “very special” episodes of your favorite programming is because May sweeps is just around the corner (April 23-May 20, 2015).
Sweeps are what advertisers and stations use to determine local ad rates (not so much national rates – those are gathered yearly) and thereby the revenue of the local newscast. So, as you can imagine, this gives stations a huge incentive to get those ratings as high as possible using any means necessary.
There are four sweeps periods every year – February, May, July and November. But generally the May and November are considered to be more important – followed by July and then February.
So what does this mean to you and how does it affect your story making it on air? Because of sweeps, local television news programs have less airtime that can be dedicated to sponsored content and are much more picky during these periods as to what type of segments they will book. More than ever they will be asking themselves if your story will engage their audience and help boost their ratings.
The reason they have less room in their rundown for your story is because stations are devoting more time to segments that will increase viewership such as:
- Sensational weeklong series that you absolutely need to watch so you can find out what is killing you and how to stop it from killing you
- Promoting other programming on the station (both national and local) via on-air discussions, guest interviews, etc.
- Uptick of sensational news stories – the old adage “if it bleeds it leads” is never more true than during a sweeps period
So does this mean that you should not conduct a satellite media tour during sweeps? Absolutely not – with the right story, spokesperson and lead-time your segment can be just as successful during sweeps as any other time.
However, if your story does not need to happen during a sweeps period – it is something you may want to consider postponing if the angle, spokesperson or timing is not optimum to break through the sweeps clutter.
So while you need to keep sweeps in mind when planning your next campaign it is not a time period you need to avoid altogether.
Today marks Boom’s 11th birthday! And like any 11-year old, we’ve had to navigate some fairly significant changes over the years. It’s been a wild ride and we know we are possibly entering “that awkward stage,” but for now we’re feeling a little nostalgic.
Remember when broadcast news was the big player when it came to “electronic media?” We do. While the interwebs have been taking us on a wild ride we think our timing launching Boom could not have come at a more interesting time. Here’s a few notable trends that have come, gone or broken onto the media scene this last decade-plus-one:
- Podcasts. Our clients had to have one 9 years ago. Then they didn’t. Now, thanks to Serial we all know what a podcast is again.
- Mommy Bloggers. A whole new species when considering pitching a story, content, or an announcement. Like any good mommy, they call the shots, do it “their way.”
- Social Media. Who’s on it? Your ad team? Your PR team? The web team? These were the questions that needed to be answered these last 11 years. Who’s keeping up? Ironically, the only one that is truly keeping up is probably the 11-year-old next door.
- Video. Time was, a video was a video was a video. Now, and let’s say it together…it’s “CONTENT.”
- Mobile. The newest category of media. Remember when we could fit our flip phones in a pocket or the inside zipper of your bag? Who would have predicted our “devices” (aka “phones”) would be getting bigger these last few years rather than smaller.
- Text-neck. See “mobile” above. Now the challenge is to presume what game, app, or site that “user” is staring at and slip in your message. If your story can’t be told with 6-second content, might need to consider another route.
So there you go. The times as always, are a changin’. And while 11 can certainly be the start of those awkward years, like our 11-year-old selves, ignorance is bliss and we’re ready for the ride.
A co-op, or cooperative SMT or cooperative news package combines complimentary clients, services or products within an interview segment or package that is then offered to stations for air. The appeal? You or your client can participate in a broadcast tactic for a fraction of the cost of your own segment or package. Based on our experience, a co-op may or may not deliver a strong result for you and/or the client.
For any co-op tour, we first consider client objectives. Boom Broadcast does not produce traditional “co-ops” for a number of reasons, the biggest being that we have not seen, in our 15+ years of experience in broadcast PR, that the co-op consistently delivers results to all participants. In addition, many stations are backing away from this format, as it tends to be overly commercial.
However, this strategy MIGHT be right for your objectives. Our approach is to evaluate the project, and if a co-op seems a fit, offer you guidance on getting the most out of it. Typically our best counsel is to consider what the objectives are for your client, and closely evaluate what broadcast tactic might deliver the same or greater value:
- Is a visual key to your communication objective? If not, radio might deliver stronger ROI for the client.
- What are your broadcast “assets”: a new product, existing visuals, an expert spokesperson, new study
- Do you have any existing marketing partners that may benefit from combined messaging?
- Do you have any existing marketing partners that may benefit from combined messaging?
If you do decide to participate in the co-op, here are a few considerations/guidelines to help you get the most from the tactic:
- Find out how many participants there will be. If there are more than three participants/products you may get short-changed on your mention or your messaging.
- Ask for a recent rundown. Most co-op producers either just do co- ops, or have a dedicated co-op team. Ask them for a recent report or rundown/schedule so you can see the caliber and number of stations your tour is likely to achieve.
- Find out where in the interview your message/product will be mentioned. Often, an interview can be cut short and if you are at the end of the talking points you may be cut out altogether.
- Confirm budget. Usually co-ops should be in the $9,000 range. Negotiate if it’s higher than that.
- Get an interview flow up front. Ask the producer to provide a specific interview flow so you know going in exactly how the tour will flow, where your mention will come, what the call to action will be, and how many tips/items the spokesperson is covering.
Finally, there just might be broadcast alternatives that better fit the client’s objectives or budget. We might offer an approach you haven’t thought of and it may deliver a stronger impact for your client. Let us know if you’d like to talk in detail