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How to get your PR story on TV

How to get your PR story on TV

By Kerry Hopkins, freelance Broadcast PR consultant and former journalist (

Do you know what SOT, pan, tracking shot, VT, ENG and rushes are? This is the kind of technical language that is needed when selling in stories to TV newsrooms.

In 2007 when I was planning for ITN’s ITV News, I didn’t get many phone calls to my planning desk from commercial PR’s.

PR’s need specialist TV training and if you are hiring a PR you should ensure they have this. TV journalists speak a whole different language to print journalists and the stories can often be picture rather then news led. I personally wouldn’t hire anyone to do TV PR unless they had worked in TV News or been trained by a TV journalist.

TV footage is more complex than print journalism. TV news is not just about words, it’s words, pictures and sound. During a TV news bulletin, the amount of branding has to comply with Ofcom regulations. So it’s preferable if your PR has a media law qualification – most TV journalists do.

As a former TV journalist, whenever a PR person phoned me I would initially go on red alert with warning signals going off in my brain. I would presume the footage was going to be some kind of corporate video badly shot.

Another tip to getting your story on TV is by spending money to produce a Video News Release (VNR). These are particularly viable since the massive cut backs in news, particularly ITV regional news.

For instance your VNR may be helpful because the news programme does not have enough cameramen to go out and film the story. Or it could be that your material was difficult to set up and film, or the footage was filmed in many countries and locations.
If you are thinking about spending your marketing budget on a VNR, any credible broadcast consultancy should give you a free consultation first as to whether, in their expert opinion; the story is likely to make it on TV. If it is not, then they should advise against making the VNR.

No longer are PR’s just using the media to reach their audience. VNR’s are more important for 2009 and 2010 than any other year because of the explosion of digital and social media.

It’s proven that new audiences can be reached on youtube, myspace, facebook, twitter, MSN video and yahoo. In 2009 every national newspaper put video on their websites and most regional newspapers do so too.

Online video journalists are tasked to produce numerous news stories daily, so helping them by offering free broadcast quality edited packages that can be uploaded online, can be invaluable.

It’s also important when you’re selling into say ‘It’s shot by ITN cameraman’…or Press Association cameraman. Or BBC and Sky too of course.

But the point is that by using one of these camera operators it instantly gives your footage credibility.

It makes the News Editor feel more secure that the video will be shot in exactly the same way as they would shoot the footage.

It’s up to you to find or hire in a freelance TV News crew or look for a PR Producer who can provide their achievements in this field to set it up for you, is the best advice I can give.

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