As public relations practitioners, we often struggle when pitching television stations for event coverage. Mainly, it's because our training was focused on print journalists and their needs. Getting television stations interested in your next event is not as hard as it sounds. Here are five ways to improve the likelihood of coverage.
1. Event timing. Invite media to an event when crews are actually available to cover. Daytime events have a better chance than Saturday and Sunday, when fewer crews are on duty. Time of day is also important...the later in the day, the more likely crews are to be returning to the station to edit and post their stories.
2. Assignments editors are your friend. They are the hub of the newsroom and make daily coverage decisions. Make sure your request for coverage goes to the assignments editor on duty.
3. Use your technology. In San Antonio, the local assignments desks have recently moved from faxes to e-mail. Now they reqeust releases by e-mail so they can be cut and pasted into an electronic day book.
4. Less is more. How are you pitching your assignments desk? Keep your media advisory or RFC short -- one page only -- and demonstrate why your story is visual by adding a sentence or two on what the crew will see when attending your event.
5. Make it visual. What will they see? Make sure you pitch a visual story. Invitations to lectures are boring and will get overlooked in favor of stories with people, motion and sound.
Not sure what your chances are? A call to the assignments desk....early in their shift....will get you a brief opinion about the likelihood of coverage and could garner additional tips on what the station is looking for in future stories.