Three Keys to Landing Local Broadcast Coverage

Three Keys to Landing Local Broadcast Coverage

With the midterm elections just around the corner, national print, cable and network broadcast news will be overcrowded, jam-packed with political stories, live coverage of the debates and talking heads contentiously deliberating the issues on both sides of the aisle. We’re also coming up on the one-year anniversary the #MeToo movement prompting numerous stories about where we are today and where we’re headed on the issue of sexual harassment. Add to that the coverage of the addiction epidemic which shows no signs of slowing. And yet brands can still break through all the noise by e,ploying good storytelling techniques and targeting a variety of outlets.

Local TV stations are hungry to tell unique stories that reflect the communities they serve and broadcast coverage is highly influential. According to a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center, despite a slight audience decline in 2017, “television remains the most common place for Americans to get their news, with local TV outpacing cable and network TV.”

So how can mission-based organizations and professional services companies build a story that will grab a local broadcast reporter’s interest? There are three important components to consider:

Make it Visual

To ensure a TV story is truly resonating with an audience, it must grab their attention beyond the words of a script. Camera crews need something to shoot and good video will make or break your chances of getting coverage.

I grew up in TV newsrooms, spending the first decade of my career producing in three Boston stations. Every night, my colleagues and I would have a discussion about what stories would make the 11pm newscast and the pieces with the best visuals always made the cut. In this recent episode of WGBH’s Open Studios, Greenough client, the International Museum of WWII, leads the show. Historical footage of women assisting in military efforts combined with strong visuals from the Museum’s new exhibit create a visually compelling story aimed at driving attendance and ticket sales.

Make it Emotional

When it comes to a big national story like the midterm elections, local news outlets certainly won’t ignore it, but it won’t dominate coverage like it does on the big cable networks. Personal stories about people in the local community will continue to be featured and emotional soundbites can help drive coverage, especially if the visual component isn’t that strong.

This past spring, Greenough helped tell the story of how a local mother got her life back on track after overcoming a substance use disorder with the help of counselors at North Shore-based, Bridgewell.  Working closely with the client, Greenough developed an inspiring story, showcasing the organization’s recovery services and landing coverage on Boston’s ABC affiliate, WCVB.

A strong partnership between the client and the agency was the key to unearthing this type of emotional story. Clients function as the eyes and ears on the ground for the agency and can help identify a unique personal story that reflects the company’s overall messaging. Without close collaboration in this area, moving stories like this may never be told.

Make it Hyperlocal

For many clients hyperlocal coverage can be more effective than focusing on a top ten media market like Boston or New York. But to make a story work for hyperlocal TV, the story must be narrowly focused on a small part of the community. For example, TV stations in Springfield only cover stories about Western Massachusetts. Stories about people and places east of Hampshire County won’t be considered.

Take this story on the Arbella Insurance Foundation’s anti-distracted driving campaign, Distractology, for example.  The piece covers a recent campaign stop at West Bridgewater High School and is well-produced, showcasing all the key messages regarding the important role education plays in stopping distracted driving. But had this story taken place in East Bridgewater, the TV station would not have covered it despite its clear news value to the greater community. 

With the average American consuming more than two hours of television daily, local broadcast coverage is an important part of a company’s overall media relations strategy and compelling visuals, emotional soundbites and hyperlocal stories are the hallmarks for successfully landing coverage. When these three components are combined, your message can leave a lasting impression on those it reaches.

Christine Williamson is a vice president at Greenough Brand Storytellers and leader of media relations best practices.

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