How to Break through the Broadcast Static

Securing broadcast for a client is a unique beast; with thinning newsroom staff and an increasingly faster news cycle, it can be a challenge to get broadcast media to focus on a consumer client.

To pitch broadcast, you need to be resilient and smart about how you make your case for coverage. Pitching broadcast media takes time and often requires multiple rounds of emails and phone calls. During big calendar moments, such as Valentine’s or Mother’s Day, this can be even more challenging as every PR pro is clambering for the same coverage. Competition is fierce.

As a PR professional, the trick is to know (and prepare for) the expected. Typically, broadcast stations cover the same stories year-over-year, for example a quick Google search of “sales of flowers” on Valentine’s Day pulls up page after page of stories. The reality of broadcast is that much of the broadcast news cycle is semi-predictable. So, prepare and plan for these moments in a thoughtful and creative way to get your client quality air time.

At SHIFT, the consumer team frequently leverages this kind of predictability to secure clients broadcast coverage during saturated seasonal moments. The key to success is consistently getting ahead of the new cycle by proactively pitching media opportunities weeks in advance. Media not only appreciate the help but often take full advantage of the invite, opting for multiple segments on top of the initial pitch.

Recently, a retail property represented by SHIFT became the preferred venue for live Black Friday coverage in a number of major cities because of this kind of proactive invitation.  The team secured more than 60 segments in five cities for the client, garnering hundreds of millions of impressions.

SHIFT successfully out-publicized competing shopping centers by following these high-level tactics:

Plan Ahead: Have a pulse on major calendar moments at least three months in advance

Client Collaboration: Work with the client to iron out logistics before starting to pitch (Who will be the spokesperson? Where can media film? Are there areas media cannot film? Etc.)

Early Outreach: Write the media alert, pitch and start outreach three-four weeks before major calendar moments. This is particularly important during major holidays as stations are eager to schedule segments in advance to accommodate limited staff.

Persistent Pitching: Follow up and make calls to all major and local stations

Cover-off with Client: Once segments are secured, circle back with the client with a highly detailed schedule, including talking points, anticipated interview questions and interview requests

Roll out the Red Carpet: Organize media parking, a media check-in point, assign a client escort per station, etc. so media have a seamless experience once on-site

Follow Up: After the segment, follow up with your media contact and thank them for their partnership

Following these guidelines effectively makes reporters’ and producers’ jobs easier. Predicting their needs, reaching out proactively and planning logistical details reduces the amount of work needed to organize a segment. As a result, you make your clients content convenient and more appealing to broadcast stations tasked with covering the same stories year after year.

Lauren Bigelow
Account Executive


Keep in Touch

Want fresh perspective on communications trends & strategy? Sign up for the SHIFT/ahead newsletter.

Ready to shift ahead?

Let's talk