Don Draper may have made many successful pitches to clients, but when he talked to the media, he lost all his charm. Ironically, he couldn’t conjure up the right thing to say. Perhaps Don could’ve learned a thing or two from Fred Iannotti.
As a freelance pitcher and writer, Fred works with agencies to get their clients’ stories in the national business and trade press. Although he pitches all types of outlets, including the major business targets, such as The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, and Bloomberg News, he frequently works with broadcast media. He was kind enough recently to share four of his secrets with us.
Secret #1: Know What’s News – and What’s Not
Producers and assignment editors are looking for stories that tie into breaking news. They also welcome broadcast-ready experts who are telegenic, quotable, and unafraid to offer pithy insights on controversial topics. It’s also important that they be available and have easy access to the main studio or can get to an affiliate to do a remote.
National broadcast means you’re up against the Big Story. If you’re not launching the next version of the iPhone (i.e., if your news isn’t big enough to be a Big Story), it needs to fit into that flow of breaking news — which means monitoring what’s being reported. Regional and local TV and radio require that your story have a local angle.
Few clients have a story of national magnitude. Nevertheless, every business assumes the media is waiting with bated breath for their new product (or service) press release. Your job is to give the client a reality check and adjust expectations to fit that reality. Often your client’s story isn’t that new product or service. If you dig deep enough, you will likely find the real story — the buried lead. Almost every company has a story to tell. It’s just that companies are too close to their business to recognize what the real news is.
Secret #2: Do Your Research
A savvy media pitcher with informed research skills is the client’s secret weapon. Fred says that because pitchers always put themselves in the reporter’s shoes, they often can secure coverage for the client from completely unexpected angles. You not only must know the journalist’s beat, but understand how they like to report stories and what they’re reporting on currently.
Most companies make the natural mistake of thinking that their news revolves around the latest and greatest features of their new product(s) and service(s). If you’re stuck playing that hand, Fred offers the example of an automaker that has designed a car with six speeds.
“You have to look at it from the consumer’s point of view, which is how the reporter looks at it,” Fred says. “What’s the importance of that extra speed? What does it allow you to do? Go faster? Save the transmission? What about this makes it newsworthy?
Putting the client’s news into context is a must. While journalists know their industry beats, they may not know every widget and how it compares to other widgets. Your job is to make your widget relevant by explaining why it matters – that is, why the viewer should care. Context, context, context — it’s probably the biggest oversight in pitching a story.
Secret #3: Customize Your Pitch to Each Outlet
To paraphrase an old saying, what’s boring to one media outlet is news gold to another. Iannotti points out that the press release is an archaic method. It’s a one-size-fits-all tool that doesn’t fit our age of customization.
Worse, it insults the reporters you’re trying to cultivate. Not only does it say you don’t understand their specialized needs, but it indicates that to you, they’re no more important than any other reporter. News releases have their place, but they’re usually useless to a pitcher.
Think about it from the reporter’s viewpoint: He needs to produce a segment that tantalizes his audience. As the pitcher, you need to understand that audience and be able to communicate concisely what they need to know.
Customizing a pitch to your target media outlets is often a tough sell to a client because it is time-intensive. With a news release, you blanket the world in seconds and then waste your time following up, trying to pound a square peg into a round hole.
The most effective way to secure detailed coverage is to “shop the exclusive.” With this approach, you select the media your client cares about the most and offer an exclusive to your top target. If unsuccessful with your top target, you move on to your #2 candidate. It takes time and patience, but the results are much, much better.
Secret #4: The Perfect Pitch is Personalized
In this age of personalization, a pitcher must be familiar with each journalist. Although this kind of information can be hard to come by, it’s important to try to find out what’s on a journalist’s plate, how he likes to receive pitches (email? tweet? text?), and what his hot buttons are.
Fred notes that it’s essential to read/watch/listen to what journalists report because you want to use that knowledge to engage them during your elevator pitch for your client. Services like TVEyes make it easy to pinpoint and view a particular reporter’s work. For example, a media pitcher can search TVEyes using relevant terms, enabling him to determine not only if a broadcast outlet covered a particular topic but also how specific journalists treated it. (Sign up for a free trial of TVEyes and see how it can make your next pitch stronger.)
And displaying to a journalist that you know what they’ve been reporting about demonstrates you’ve done your homework. It also strokes a reporter’s ego, which is not a bad thing to do.
Once you’ve identified the appropriate outlets and the right journalists and producers at each, you’ll need to work your media list progressively, customizing each pitch.
In working with broadcast media, the producer — or booker — is your target. They’re the ones who you have to “sell,” and, if they buy what you’re selling, they in turn will have to sell your story to their news editor and/or supervising producer.
An email pitch is usual and always includes a catchy subject line, an equally catchy lead, a few quick bullet points about the client’s news and how it relates to news of the day. The pitch also includes what the client (or expert) is available to comment on, where they are based geographically, relevant Youtube videos or podcasts, a bio brief, and a LinkedIn link.
Many networks prefer live coverage, and because breaking news rules, they’ll tend to make decisions at the last minute. Producers gravitate to spokespeople who can come to the studio quickly, often at moment’s notice.
It’s no secret: Pitching TV is not easy
Pitchers have a tough job. They have to educate clients that earned media do not live in the same world as marketers. This is important because many pitchers report to marketing VPs, who are not always cognizant of the difference. In the earned media world, you don’t get to make the rules — they do. This is a message that can take some clients a while to absorb. Some never get it.
The most effective media pitchers are the ones able to balance being the client’s advocate while viewing the world from the journalist’s perspective.
We’re celebrating some important achievements here at TVEyes and they’re worth sharing as they help create context for understanding our business from the outside (and make us feel pretty good inside).
Last month Dave Seltzer (our system architect) and I were awarded U.S. patent 9,087,331 CONTEXTUAL ADVERTISING FOR VIDEO AND AUDIO MEDIA for the invention of a system to present contextually relevant advertisements based on words spoken in a video or audio segment being played via the Internet. The work on this invention started nearly nine years ago, very early in the life of Internet video (YouTube still had no revenue model and was about to be purchased by Google for an at-the-time staggering sum).
Dave and I realized that our innovation of indexing spoken words against video could be a source of monetization for Web properties and content owners. Video advertisements then, and now, often had no bearing on the content, and were intrusive as well. By capturing keywords from transcripts or speech-to-text we created, we could interrogate an ad serving system and present advertisements that were relevant to the viewer, increasing clicks and enhancing the user experience. You can read the news release here.
This kind of innovation and transformation of the underlying material is central to what we do here at TVEyes. We’re continuing to innovate our core products and services and exploring additional ways we can apply proprietary technologies to create and support business opportunities for our clients.
Innovation and dedication to our mission has led us to distinction again among our technology-company peers in Connecticut. We’ve been named a Marcum Tech Top 40 finalist for 2015, meaning that our growth over time is among the fastest in our state. We’re looking forward to the event on September 24, and recognition for the hard work of our team. While it’s an award for growth – hat tip to our sales team for their stellar performance – it’s also an award for our development and service teams as well. Our ability to attract and retain customers is a direct reflection of the unrivaled breadth and utility of our broadcast media monitoring service and the team that delivers and supports our more than 3,000 clients every day.
There’s more to come from TVEyes in 2015 and beyond – stay tuned!
Although Election Day is more than 18 months away, the 2016 Presidential campaign season is well underway. Reporters and producers are already scrutinizing every statement, expression, gesture, and action a candidate makes.
To control the message, political candidates must monitor the news in real-time and in all markets. The White House, members of Congress, and many government agencies know how news events can upend their plans, which is why they use services like TVEyes to track news events and keep their messaging consistent and persistent.
But broadcast monitoring is also an invaluable tool for political candidates. The news cycle requires vigilance, and campaign managers who track issues, opponents, and media personalities will be in a better position to control their candidate’s messages.
Here are just a few of the ways political campaigns can use broadcast monitoring in the upcoming election season.
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It’s tough to be a celebrity, politician, business leader, or journalist in the age of television and the Internet. Make a mistake or a slip of the tongue, and your error could be ricocheting through social media in seconds. And the talking heads will be, well, talking about you on the local morning shows and nightly newscasts.
This year alone, the list of recent slips and trips is long and infamous: Brian Williams, Keith Olbermann, Patricia Arquette, Kanye West – all had to defend, explain, apologize for, or walk-back statements they made.
And it’s not just individuals. Silicon Valley’s favorite unicorn, Uber, had to explain why one of its executives was interested in digging up dirt on journalists. The slip sent the company into a PR tailspin.
CNN’s afternoon anchor Brooke Baldwin apologized after she put the blame for policing problems on military veterans returning home from war. A day later, she went on the air, admitted her words were a mistake, and apologized.
ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos also issued apologies. Not for what was said, but for what wasn’t said. He failed to disclose a $75,000 donation to the Clinton Foundation when reporting on Hillary Clinton or the nonprofit. Because journalists are expected to remain neutral in reporting, the omission raised issues about trust.
Slips and omissions, if not handled correctly, can damage a reputation. But crisis management experts generally agree the best way to handle such a situation is by issuing a heartfelt apology. Nearly all of those mentioned above handled their missteps with an apology. Yet some were more successful than others.
Public apologies can be tough. What does it take to express a convincing regret? To avoid sounding insincere or being accused of issuing a “non-apology” apology, follow these steps.
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No one likes a surprise, least of all the CEO. If there’s an issue with serious consequences for his company, he needs to know far in advance what it is and how you’re going to deal with it.
Senior PR pros know they need to stay on top of emerging trends and changes in the socio-political environment. A single issue can bubble up in the most unexpected places and impact many industries and organizations of all sizes.
For example, demands for a higher minimum wage by workers at a local fast-food restaurant can cause a ripple effect, eventually reaching giant retailers like Wal-Mart. Likewise, the USDA’s new dietary guidelines can create an impact on stakeholders as disparate as regional school districts and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
Today’s media landscape is more complicated than ever before. Television remains the single most influential medium, and it reaches deep into local communities. And consumers and activists now have a powerful platform for propagating their ideas and opinions through social media. These media worlds often intertwine, feeding each other.
This makes identifying and planning for potential crises an ongoing responsibility, and one that is increasingly difficult in a very noisy and rapidly changing world.
The process for issues management can be broken down into five steps.
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When you are on top of the developing news in the industries in which they specialize, when you are actively on the lookout for organizations you can help, you will find and reach potential clients.
When you prove you’re knowledgeable about your prospective client, its business, and the media environment in which it operates, you’ll win the business. When you develop smart campaigns, provide well-thought-out advice, and develop communications programs that help your client stand out among the competition, you create strong and trusting relationships.
When you bring new ideas to the table, are proactive in warning about potential hot spots, and help clients avert crises, you’re likely to be viewed as valuable partners and thus indispensable.
When you consistently produce exceptional results, clients will recommend you to others – over and over again.
Broadcast monitoring enriches your relationship with your client by providing the qualitative and quantitative data that informs strategy, improves performance, and enables quick thinking and quick action. With it, you’ll set your agency apart from the competition and achieve your goals: to find and win new business, and to deliver exceptional results that turn clients into evangelists.
There isn’t a single organization that isn’t unnerved by the latest data security hack. When millions of credit card numbers are stolen or employee data are thrown into the open, every department will find they have a stake in what happens next.
Sometimes, simply the perception of a weakness can create a cascading impact. The PR team will jump into action when shows like 60 minutes point out security flaws, but executives, product development, sales, marketing and IT will quickly follow and take steps to seize opportunities or mitigate damage.
Keeping ahead of the latest news and investigative reports and how they reverberate in local markets can help your organization react in real time. However, it’s impossible to track every market without incorporating broadcast monitoring into your media-tracking program.
Because of its comprehensive, local coverage, broadcast monitoring provides a more reliable picture of what the media are saying and how it’s influencing your audience.
Executives and functional groups outside the public relations office may not be aware of the impact broadcast monitoring can have on setting business strategy, mitigating risk, and seizing competitive advantage.
We’re pleased to offer a free playbook to help explain the advantages of broadcast monitoring across the enterprise.
Our free playbook provides samples of how broadcast monitoring can be used for:
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Since early January, more than 150 cases of measles have been reported in the United States. Measles was declared eradicated in 2000, so the outbreak has raised concerns among health officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, doctors, parents, schools, and the public in general. Thus, this is a major news story in every national and local media outlet.
But this public health issue also isn’t without controversy.
Most of those who came down with the measles were unvaccinated, putting the media spotlight on the anti-vaccination movement and the families who choose not to vaccinate their children.
The seriousness of the health threat and the ensuing controversy have generated a significant increase in broadcast news reports on the topic. Since the outbreak was announced on Jan. 7, there have been more than 50,500 mentions of it on broadcast news, and a surge in discussion about vaccinations. During the first week of January, there were just 678 TV news clips that mentioned vaccinations. But after the outbreak, that number climbed to more than 31,000 by the end of February.
For the CDC and state health officials around the country, keeping up with the proliferating broadcasts and reacting when required is challenging, but very essential to halting the outbreak. Vaccine manufacturers also must be attuned to the conversation so they can manage both financial and reputational risk effectively. Activists have an interest in what’s reported because they want to advance their cause.
The task is complicated not only by the increase in coverage, but also because television is highly influential. This significantly raises the stakes for everyone involved.
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The Investor Relations Officer (IRO) is a critical communications link between a publicly traded company and the analysts, investors, and activists who take an interest in the organization. The IRO is responsible for communicating news and earnings as well as educating and engaging each of these stakeholders in an open dialogue.
But IROs also must adhere to Securities and Exchange regulations. One of the best known and most notable is Regulation FD (“RegFD”), which requires that material nonpublic information be broadly communicated to ensure that all stakeholders receive the same information at the same time.
To comply with the law, the IRO must be vigilant in the disclosure of material nonpublic information to analysts and the media. While the regulation applies mainly to comments by directors, executive officers and investor relations personnel, IROs also need to be aware of what other employees say at trade shows, conferences, and to the media.
In addition, after a disclosure or during a crisis, the IRO must keep executives and the company’s board up to date on any reaction, comments, or feedback to news about the company.
Broadcast monitoring plays an important and essential role in helping IROs with these responsibilities. As a best practice, IROs should monitor all commentary by employees, analysts, investors, and activists.
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I’m particularly pleased and proud to announce the promotion of Dan Miles to a newly created position as our chief operating officer. Together with Dan, we’ve forged a more resilient and scalable TVEyes that’s ready to take advantage of the enormous opportunities in front of us. As we continue to grow domestically and internationally, you’ll see the business planning and organizational and product strategies that Dan is leading revealed in future announcements.
Dan is an unusual executive in many positive ways. He’s analytical and creative, empathic and decisive, and practical and strategic. This multifaceted nature is central to his success as a change agent at TVEyes. While we are building process and scalability in how we run our business he’s also gaining consensus and motivating new ways of working at what was already a successful business.
The old saying, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” could have applied to TVEyes if we were satisfied with the status quo. But we’re not. Our mission is to make the world’s television and radio broadcasts as searchable as text, and then make that information useful to our clients in ways that are still being innovated 15 years since we launched the first Web-based broadcast monitoring system.
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- Secrets of a Pitch Man: 4 Tips to Land a Broadcast Interview
- Reaping the Rewards of Innovation and Growth: TVEyes Awarded a Patent for Contextual Advertising and the 2015 Marcum Tech Top 40.
- Election Winners Don’t Let Others Control the Message
- A Slip of the Tongue: Lessons from Celebrities on Reputation Management
- How to Avoid the Surprise Crisis: Stay on Top of Issues
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