by Matt Allinson, International Media Relations Supervisor
I recently had the good fortune of making my way to the Rose City (Portland, Oregon) for a media event put on by the Public Relations Society of America’s Greater Portland chapter and featuring a variety of news presenters and news producers with KATU (Channel 2 – ABC affiliate), one of the city’s fine news stations.
Discussing what it takes to get a story on the morning news show “AMNW” at KATU were morning show co-anchors Carl Click and Natali Marmion; morning show executive producer Karen VanVleck; assignment manager Nick Bradshaw; and photographer Bob Foster.
The quintet discussed a myriad of topics from crowdsourcing, to pitching, to finding experts, to the ever-present impact of social media on television news.
Click, who has worked in the Portland television market for 29 years, marveled at the meteoric rise of social media and its impact on traditional media. Click says that he and his co-anchor Marmion realize that a lot of their audience check their Facebook and Twitter feeds first thing in the morning so it’s important they reach out to their viewership in new ways. “Social media has overtaken us the last two years,” he said. “Natalie and I are now very active with Facebook and Twitter on set.”
Bradshaw, the Assignment Manager at the station since 2009, said he’s willing to take pitches via Twitter, noting that the medium and other social networking sites have become so popular that it’s impossible to ignore them. “We have so many eyes on Twitter now,” Bradshaw said. “Two years ago, not so much – but now, we have to pay attention to Facebook and Twitter.”
But Bradshaw mentioned that while KATU closely monitors Twitter, they’re also less likely to pay attention to those who tweet too much (aka “Twitter polluters”).
No matter how you choose to pitch KATU (or other television stations) your news, there are some important things to remember according to Bradshaw and VanVleck: 1) Keep it short; 2) Pack it full of information; and 3) Include either pictures or video (this is of the utmost importance). TV stations won’t do much with your news if there are no visuals according to the people most responsible for putting news on air.
Another tip the group offered that is always easier said than done: make sure your news is interesting and will provide good content for the TV station. “We don’t repeat news, unless it’s breaking news, if we don’t have to,” VanVleck deadpanned. She also noted that TV stations love it if they can be pointed toward the people who will be impacted by the news you are putting out. Like any news pitch, the more homework that is done and the more that is provided only increases the likelihood of a story being picked up.
And if your aim is to weave your announcement into the morning news show, at least at KATU, you’ll want to get it to them at least three or four days in advance. If they want to make a story of your news, they’ll need to time to do it right. Lastly, if they do run your story, make sure to be accessible for follow-up afterward. Too often, says Bradshaw, the station will need to follow up only have the point of contact not be reachable. Not only does this hurt the current story, but it can hurt confidence in using that source in the future.
Happy pitching. Throw fastballs . . . no curves.