A satellite media tour (SMT) remains an effective public relations tactic that can often generate high-quality results that matter to your clients. However, an SMT in 2016 is very different from 10 years ago, back when we all had MySpace accounts. Today, across the PR services spectrum, it’s all about the PESO—the Paid-Earned-Shared-Owned model—and the same is true for an SMT.
Because things have changed so much over the last decade or so, I gathered our experienced team of television, radio, Internet and PR experts together to get their takes on what makes a mega client win…and mega migraine mistakes. Read on for their 16 tips:
- Make sure your spokesperson didn’t do a SMT last month. This can directly impact the number and quality of bookings for your tour and it’s a more common problem than you might suspect. Make sure you ask your spokesperson or their agent if they’ve been featured in a media tour in recent months.
- Optimize the time you have with your celebrity. A common error we see is paying a spokesperson for eight hours and only getting five or six hours of actual service, which can result in hundreds of thousands of lost media impressions for your client’s messages. In any contract with your talent, be sure to specify that the hours you pay for are exclusively for publicity appearances. Things like make-up and hair or travel to and from the location are not part of those hours.
- Never underestimate the importance of B-roll for your SMT. TV and digital are both visual mediums. Pictures are critical when producing a compelling SMT segment. Good video helps tell your story. Without it, a news producer is left with a talking head. This is especially important for any taped interviews. You want your segment to be memorable. Good, compelling video will get your story aired. Without it, it could be forgotten on a shelf. Has your client had a recent commercial shoot? Maybe that raw footage is available. If not, KEF Media’s team can create those visuals for you. Read, “Does Your B-Roll Distribution Meet the Viral Video Standard?”
- If possible, avoid television sweeps months. Television real estate is always at a premium, and that’s especially true during sweeps months—February, May, July and November—when Nielsen measures audiences to help TV networks and local stations set advertising rates. This matters to you because television media are especially busy during sweeps. Earned media interviews during sweeps without a truly compelling topic or talent can be particularly challenging. Luckily, there are integrated media tactics we can still use to get quality coverage.
- Rethink settling on “Co-op” satellite media tours. Co-op satellite media tours typically feature three to five brands that a spokesperson presents over the course of a themed segment and are usually conducted as a result of budget restraints. There is a better solution if you’re considering a co-op tour! Thanks to technological advances and the PR industry embracing of PESO (Paid Earned Shared Owned), a co-op media tour solution that better accommodates your client’s budget while delivering a better ROI should limit the tour to two parties to maintain message integrity.
- Understand the decision making process in newsrooms. Whether they work in a TV, radio, print or Internet newsroom, the editorial decision-makers you want to reach need to know why their particular audience will be interested in your client’s story. Thus, a good media alert, tweet or phone pitch should boil down to a few concise, compelling sentences. Something that looks like a branded keyword-packed press release will only hurt media interest. Remember, the objective is to book the interview. Your spokesperson will deliver the messages during the interviews when the real audience you want is paying attention.
- Branding on set should be limited. Load up the set with branding and watch producers cancel the interviews they booked. That’s what happens because those producers can see your satellite feed before they get to the interview. It’s the best way to kill what otherwise would be a successful tour. One brand mention and one brand visual are acceptable. If you have a client who insists on more than that, we can offer alternatives that will deliver what your client wants to see.
- Leave enough lead time to execute a tour. Ideally, four to six weeks is sufficient. This often includes the agency account team consulting with us to determine the best tour tactics, topics, talent, timing and location. Of course, things aren’t always ideal. We’ve produced and executed satellite media tours in as little a few days and delivered excellent results.
- Encourage your client and spokesperson to agree to the best interview time window. An analysis of two years of SMT bookings and conversations with media professionals tell us this: for a standard tour with the main target of television bookings, we recommend 8 a.m. to noon Eastern. Radio Media Tours book best between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. Eastern. Internet Media Tours book best when done between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Eastern. There are always exceptions to these rules, especially when it comes to athletes and celebrities.
- Pick a location set over a studio, if possible. Television is a visual medium. Producers are always interested in an SMT staged at a visually appealing location that lends itself to your spokesperson’s topic. Over the last year and a half, we’ve staged satellite tours from the Winter Olympics in Russia, Yellowstone National Park, Walt Disney World and the Super Bowl. But if you’re discussing something like lawn care, have your spokesperson do it from an attractive lawn. If it’s about car care, do it from a repair garage. When we stage media tours from locations, we always take things like weather, permits, and travel into account.
- Don’t rule out satellite media interviews from foreign countries. If you are considering a satellite tour staged in a foreign country, know that it is eminently doable. Thanks to satellite and digital technology, the world is small now, at least from a communications stand point. But you also have to know the ropes because things are often much different in other parts of the world. Over 30 years, we’ve produced hundreds of tours from Asia, Australia, Europe, even Mt. Everest.
- Be prepared for the broadcast news industry standard: Live to Tape interviews. When we staged our first tour 25 years ago, all of the interviews were live. While a good pitch will always get attention, live interviews are now almost exclusively reserved for celebrities and all-star athletes. For everything else (lifestyle, medical, financial topics), to-day’s commercial sensitive news producers overwhelmingly like to tape their interviews to see and hear what the message will look like. Then, those taped interviews air within a few days. What are the odds of your taped interview airing? Excellent! If a producer commits their anchors’ and crew members’ time to taping your segment, it’s because they like the topic and expect to air it.
- Look for a hook. Timely, topical news hooks ensure media coverage so you should always be on the lookout for a hook. For example, if your client makes portable electric generators and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just predicted an unusually high number of hurricanes this season, there’s your SMT news hook. Media also love surveys and studies relevant to the interests of the average viewer, listener or reader. For example, if your client sells golf balls, commission a survey to determine the 10 worst gifts to give dad for Father’s Day and then stage the tour at a golf course the Wednesday before Father’s Day.
- Don’t get ripped off. We often wonder how some of our competitors can charge so much for a satellite tour and deliver so little by way of results. They can get away with it because they know the agency representatives often don’t know what questions to ask. We’re always looking to partner with our clients and partners don’t take advantage of partners. We’ll work with you on your budget and deliver, we hope, results that exceed your expectations. That way, you’ll partner with us again.
- Expand your target markets. “We want New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and it’s not a success unless we see those.” We’ve heard that many times and we’ll tell you straight up, for most clients, earned satellite media tour interviews in major markets is a fantasy. Clients should remember that even celebrities have trouble getting booked on local market TV programs in New York and L.A. So, an unknown doctor, like a podiatrist from Sheboygan that you hired to talk about foot odor prevention products has no chance. None. The smart scenario is to target as many markets as possible. We want eyeballs and ears, after all. But clients often insist on major markets so that’s one of the reasons we offer innovative tactics like “More In a Minute…”, a news package guaranteed to air in those major markets that typically don’t book SMTs.
- Evaluate your bilingual spokesperson options. Whenever possible, have an English and Spanish speaking spokesperson. Spanish-language media is the fastest growing in America and people who speak Spanish also want to hear your client’s message. Bilingual spokespeople can be a great way to penetrate the tougher top 10 DMAs (especially LA, Dallas and Houston). We’ve seen earned interviews increase 50% in certain situations. This is also a good time to have two spokespeople (one English, one Spanish) who can rotate in and out of one chair on set during your Spanish SMT.
Keep these 16 tips in mind before you plan your media tour because they can dramatically increase the opportunities for big client wins.
Alex strives to develop and deliver shareable media impressions. Cut through the clutter and create memorable content with the potential to go viral! That was his mantra during his nearly two decades as a broadcaster for CBS Radio, iHeartMedia and ESPN Radio in major markets like Washington, D.C.; Atlanta, GA; and Tampa, FL during the emergence of digital media. Alex has been featured in the NY Post, PR Daily and numerous other publications.