A couple of wily news hounds at Clarion Communications decided to set their alarm clocks extra early this week to go and meet Sky News’ defence reporter Alistair Bunkall and news reporter Richard Suchet, to discuss their insights into landing that illusive TV coverage for clients.
As the UK’s first dedicated 24-hour news channel, Sky News is pretty much the pioneer of ‘rolling news’ in the UK, and this has a big impact on the way we, as conscientious PRs, can offer news stories for our clients - especially as the typical ‘deadline’ mentality is now somewhat fuzzy. The guiding principles however remain unchanged: offer timely and relevant content from the client, offer the head honcho for comment, and provide that interesting ‘picture’ for the camera.
The latter in particular being an often overlooked ‘no-brainer’, as Sky is predominantly a TV medium - despite massive following online and on radio - and the producers need to think how a story will come across on-air; so think about this during the initial pitch as the picture can be more important than the story. For example, offering a good shoot location could score coverage, even if it’s pretty much unrelated to the initial hard news story itself.
One question I put to the guys was about keeping our clients’ brand front and centre of softer news stories: alas, with a guilty shirk we were told that in PR there are no guarantees, and producers and reporters do prefer to have the story as ‘their own’. Oh well, no-one ever said PR was easy - but careful preparation, appropriately credited spokespeople and some subtly branded b-roll footage may have to suffice in the meantime.
For those interested, they can find out a bit more on the Gorkana blog of the media briefing.