I recently attended an event by Good Broadcast with some of my colleagues, where we learned about the best way to get your clients onto broadcasting platforms. The event spoke to BBC R4 Money Box’s Dan Whitworth and Sky Ian King Live’s Scott Beasley.
Though one programme focuses on consumer finance, and the other on corporate, it was striking how many points they agreed on. Though there is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach when pitching stories to broadcast media, there are certainly some points that you can bear in mind!
Know Your Story
First and foremost, before you pick up the phone to try and get your client on for a discussion, make sure you know your story back to front! This may sound simple but making sure you are able to combat their questions will make your client sound infinitely more credible.
Turn your pitch into a discussion; engage with the person you are talking to and bring to light new viewpoints that your client may have. The extra research will show and hopefully, pay off; if not with coverage, then hopefully with a new relationship at the outlet.
Know The Outlet
This is perhaps one of their biggest bug-bares from the day – journalists and producers are tired of people just turning to their press list and pitching a story to everyone on the list. Make sure the story is relevant to them and the programme before getting in touch with the outlet.
Don’t pitch a story on Amazon’s share price to everyone tagged with finance, as you will end up pitching this story to someone specialising in personal finance. If you do this too much, you risk being blacklisted by the individual; even when you have the right outlet, make sure you’re emailing the right person, otherwise you could run the same risk!
In fact, one common point made was that having so many bad pitches meant that they often ended up relying on their connections in the PR world for good stories, so make sure you’ve prioritised quality over quantity, sending over fewer relevant stories.
So, What Do They Want From A Story?
Whilst not covered in full, Dan and Scott alluded to a few key points that would make them, and other broadcasters, more interested in a pitched story.
Firstly, most broadcasters are desperate to engage with younger audiences. Feel free to be as quirky with your story as you wish – if your story can interest the youth, they will listen.
Secondly, both Dan and Scott were sick and tired of receiving surveys. If you want to tie in data with your story, they suggested far more exclusive black and white figures from reliable sources such as ONS data, NHS Digital and Freedom of Information Requests.
Finally, and this is for TV, add something aesthetic to draw the viewers attention. This makes the broadcasters lives far easier, and they don’t have to worry about trying to come up with ways of engaging the viewer.
What Kind Of Spokesperson Do They Want?
Diversity is key to both Dan and Scott. They are really looking for diversity in interviewees. They want individuals in high up positions who aren’t old white men. The BBC actually has a 50/50 target to be met by April on gender, so especially promoting women in high positions is key.
It doesn’t have to be the CEO from a FTSE 100 company. The brand or organisation in question doesn’t necessarily have to be a market-leader, as long as they have something interesting to say and a good speaker to say it.
So, What Makes A Good Speaker?
When questioned on the qualities of a good spokesperson, both our speakers agreed that the ideal spokesperson would be a ‘normal person’. They don’t have to give more than a one-word answer; when a simple yes or no would suffice, that would be a perfectly acceptable answer. Sure, your client is likely to be there with an agenda but ideally, they would be accessible and a straight-talker, whose interest lies beyond London.
Unsurprisingly, both the media and the general public are tired of hearing the B-word. No-one knows what is happening with Brexit, and so no-one really knows how it will affect anyone. Only pitch a Brexit related story if you’re really adding value, or it is directly relevant to the programme.