On Friday the 9th March 4media Group hosted their inaugural breakfast seminar aimed at giving our clients tips from industry experts.
This seminar focuses specifically on broadcast and 4media hosted two speakers from ITV; Owen Masters, Assistant editor of GMB and Ben Fergie, Deputy Editor of Lorraine, who gave us the benefit of their experience and insight into how to craft their story for TV and the difference between pitching a story for news and features.
In case you missed it here’s the key tips to help your story stand out:
- Your Spokesperson is key!
Throughout the event the issue of spokesperson came up again and again. A good spokesperson can be the difference between your story landing a TV spot or it being rejected. But there’s three main things you need to consider:
- Do they have a proper connection to the topic?
Make sure your spokesperson is relatable to the campaign. Do they have a link to the subject matter? It doesn’t matter how big your spokesperson is if they are can’t talk coherently and passionately about the topic under discussion.
- Are they happy to talk about other things too?
As well as coming in to front your campaign, think about the interview as a whole. Are they happy to deviate from the topic to talk about their own lives, or about things they have coming up?
- Are they available?
This may seem obvious but if you want to land that campaign-changing interview then it’s vital that your spokesperson is available to do it. Schedules won’t wait for them.
Another tip provided by Ben was that audiences react strongly to stars they see day to day and have in their homes on their telly on a regular basis. Soap stars for example work well because audiences know them.
If a company is in crisis or an industry is under a large amount of scrutiny then Owen suggests getting a key person from that company or industry to come in and talk could be beneficial. Whilst they may be reluctant to face the public and want to shy away from certain issues, they may actually get kudos and respect from viewers for fronting it out and talking openly.
- Don’t make your pitch too complicated!
Remember that you work for your company, those you’re pitching to don’t. Don’t assume that everyone knows what you’re talking about.
For example, if your story is based around a scientific issue don’t fill the opening paragraph with complicated jargon. By all means use terminology relevant to the topic but keep them out of the opening paragraph. Make everything clear, relatable and interesting to your audience as well as to who you’re pitching too!
Your top line is key! Due to the large amount of press releases received by editors and producers your top line has to be attention grabbing. Be sensational! Get your point across quickly with clarity and authority.
- Know who you’re pitching too.
Too many people this may seem obvious, however Ben commented that there have many examples where people have pitched suggesting that Phil and Holly would love their story! They may well do, but when you are pitching to Lorraine that kind of mistake is unforgivable. Do your research!
Knowing the show’s presenters is base level knowledge, but if you really want to nail your pitch why not dig a little deeper. Once you’ve nailed their name, why not read some of their tweets. What are they talking about? If they are interested in particular topics then they will be keen to talk about them on air.
You know your products or brand but you need to know the show too. Watch an episode or two to get a feel for the types of content they cover and the type of angles that make it on to the screen. Looking at GMB and Lorraine in particular Ben and Owen made their aims clear.
Traditionally people wanted a calm, easy start to their morning, but that is no longer the case. GMB like to get people wound up in the morning by focussing on polarising stories and having debates on topics to ‘make you miss your bus’.
Lorraine on the other hand, due to their time slot of 8.30 to 9.30 and their ‘houseperson’ demographic aim to offer ‘escapism’ during the ‘hour when people stop’. Their stories should be human interest with a good ending and ‘offer hope’ to others.
- Be fresh, original and relevant!
No matter what format your story takes it is imperative that the angle is something new and fresh. Stories can’t feel old or they won’t make it on to the show.
Medical stories are a good example. Most medical issues are well publicised so there is very little that audiences don’t know. So think: Is the news new or revolutionary? Is there something new for audiences to learn or are you just repeating the same old thing?
Cultural shifts are also of interest to producers for the same reason. Are we doing something different to how we used to years ago? This will offer both nostalgia to older viewers and an interesting insight into modern culture.
Last but not least be creative! If you’re running a survey as part of your story for example think about your questioning and how to frame it to get the most interesting answers. Also any survey that includes the presenters in the list of results will usually get a mention as it creates a good talking point!
Thanks to everyone for coming along and keep your eyes peeled for future events!