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.
“Content, content, content” has replaced “location, location, location” as the buzzword de jour. Compelling content is what we need to populate our websites, social media pages and internal comms channels to keep stakeholders engaged with our organizations. We churn it out, but face it…some weeks we look up to find our wells running dry and need to prime the proverbial pump.
One commonly overlooked source of solid content is conferences and conventions. Medical, consumer product, technology, food/beverage or otherwise – all can be a treasure chest of interviews and video footage to use in a variety of ways for many months following the meeting.
Think about it: in-demand thought leaders and key stakeholders all in one place at one time with the backdrop and excitement of a credible, third-party event?Take full advantage!
Certainly, planning ahead will get you the most mileage at the lowest cost – you can book a production crew and a suitable place at the conference site or nearby hotel to conduct scripted interviews with spokespersons, internal leaders/execs as well as capture product demos. But even an impromptu scheduling of a crew to shadow you around a conference can give you hours of material to package and fulfill your content marketing strategy. If nothing else, consider all that footage as “content reserves” to tap into when you’re running short on material to trickle out or to complement other PR/marketing activities.
And don’t forget to package existing content ahead of time to use while you’re at the conference (e.g., video to broadcast on a loop from your booth, or to show prospects on your iPad) and if you have breaking news or something innovative to share, consider conducting a media tour right from the conference.
You may have missed this opportunity for the fall conference season, but don’t get caught leaving content on the (conference) table in the spring! Boom has extensive experience working these events. Contact your rep for a complimentary brainstorm now on ways to make the most of your next conference or convention. Think of it as a gift to yourself that will keep on giving.
Click Here for VLOG Version: Boom in the Room: Behind the Scenes in a Newsroom
While watching the news on TV, you may never get a sense of what is actually going on behind-the-scenes. The newsroom is a frenetic, energetic and sometimes chaotic place; where it can be difficult if not downright impossible to break through the clutter and get your story into the right hands.
You may wonder—WHO are these people in the newsroom and WHY aren’t they airing my story. You know your story has all the necessary elements — great visuals, relevant news, no branded mentions – or maybe only one – and even local statistics – but the producers still won’t bite. What gives?
Try to see it from their perspective. When a producer gets pitched a story their first thought is usually not: “Wow – what a great segment!” Instead they are most likely thinking, “Do you know how busy I am? I have to get a newscast on air in a couple of hours?!! And I haven’t even eaten yet today.”
Their next thoughts – if they are even entertaining the pitch, are: “Is this story something my viewers will tune in to watch? How will I convince my news director? Have we done covered story locally recently? And, then… who is the sponsor and how is it being worked into the piece?” All too often – their final word is “Sorry, we’ve got way too much going on today.”
While there are more newscasts then ever, there also seems to be less available time for sponsored content. Why is that? A typical 30 minute newscast only has a few minutes for outside produced content so all too often outside produced segments are the first to go if there is a breaking news story, or if the weather or sports anchor decides to go a “little long” that night. So even if your piece does make the initial cut and the station had plans to run the segment – it can still get bumped from the rundown at the last minute. And by the next day—the producer has been pitched at least another 10 story ideas and your piece goes to the back burner.
And that’s a typical day in the news cycle. As you can tell it’s a tough environment out there—no question. So before you commit to a news package – take these questions into consideration:
- Does my story have real news value? Will it break through the clutter?
- Will my story have appeal in New York AND Boise?
- Is this a story that my local news program would air – have I ever seen /heard something similar on my local news program?
- Can the station localize my story? Does the news affect the viewers in all markets?
- Is there another reason to produce footage beyond television coverage? Can the production be justified for other uses?
- Is my story overtly commercial? – can I make it less so and still meet my client’s objectives?
- Can the station tell the story without my news package? Are the visuals an essential part of the package?
- Is it visual? Should we consider radio opportunities?
The bottom line is that unless you have breaking news, the only opportunity to get your story on air is through broadcast public relations. So with the right counsel and the right story idea—a broadcast news package may be the right tactic for to get out your message. Let Boom help you determine the best way to get your news seen and heard.
You can view a “boom in the room segment” on broll here: http://boombroadcast.com/video_update.asp?video=2
While there will always be stations whose policy is to “never use outside produced content” – even those stations tend to pull in and use a package if the story is:
- relevant to their viewers
Having said that, we try to approach every project by evaluating similar type packages history. We look at:
- news value
- spokesperson relevance