Overcoming the ‘broadcast beast’

By Anna Simmons

Broadcast media has both advantages and disadvantages when compared with print; broadcast news can be far more immediate and reactive and, more notably, convey emotion better than the written word.

Another plus point for broadcast is that it can be absorbed whilst audiences are doing other activities, such as driving or eating, which is an extreme advantage in a world where people have very little spare time.

So why in PR is there sometimes a reluctance to target broadcast media as extensively as we do print? And how can professionals overcome what they may see as the ‘broadcast beast’?

The answer to the first question lies in that many of the articles produced for print might be seen as being ‘unsuitable’ for broadcast, particularly as there seems to be much larger variety of niche publications in the print sphere than in broadcast. However, this is changing rapidly with the growth of the digital age and this notion no longer has any validity.

A quick internet search reveals that there are a plethora of niche broadcast platforms now in existence, for example if a client wanted to target the farming community; Farming Radio, Agriculture Radio, Farming Today on BBC4 and STAR Radio’s farming show are just a few of the mediums to target. Moreover, community radio and television stations also facilitate shows that cover a range of topics, and are very open to new material and interesting interview opportunities.

The next question is… how to overcome the reluctance to target these organisations once they have been identified?

Well, just as with print, it’s essential to expose yourself to your target outlets as much as possible. Listen to and watch the programmes and stations regularly and make notes on their tone and content – this way you can establish what they want and tailor your news package accordingly.

It is also useful to note, where possible, how the organisation gathers its material and what times and days they do their planning allowing you to make your submissions as convenient as possible which will turn increase the chance of your story being picked up. In some cases you may also be able to identify key times where content seems to be lacking; content which can then be provided by you!

When approaching broadcast it’s always useful to offer an interview (especially if the subject is able to travel to the station and go live). Different voices allow broadcasters to make their coverage more diverse and interesting, and without these key ingredients they are unlikely to buy into the story

Meeting with broadcasts journalists also helps establish how PR can help them, when it hinders them and what kind of content they are looking for.

As well as providing information and interview opportunities it may be useful for broadcasters if you can provide them with your own content. Videos, sound bites and interviews which can be posted online or used directly by broadcasters but can also double up for your clients own webpage or YouTube account. This may incur costs, so this has to be carefully considered even though it is often a viable option.

Broadcast media produces some of the most engaging and memorable content and, as much of it can now be re-accessed using the web, it has been granted increased longevity.

There are so many varieties of programmes available aimed at such an array of audiences – the question should no longer be WILL broadcasters be interested, but WHICH broadcasters will be interested.

The best thing to do is identify who will want your story and contact them! And once you start approaching it regularly you’ll see that the ‘broadcast beast’ isn’t so scary after all!