Talent. Topic. Timing.
These are the three “Ts” through which I filter every potential satellite media tour. If it sounds simple, well, it is. But in our industry, we get paid to overthink. Background: As a former major market media personality, I’ve received countless interview and content pitches. I also worked at a boutique PR agency, so I’ve executed traditional media relations. Now, I’m in the glamorous world of SMTs filling up narrow time windows with high quality national and local TV, radio and print/online interviews. With this experience, I can confidently say if you are considering a satellite media tour for your client or brand, then please apply this 3T Filter to predict success. Or better yet, let's run through it together.
In my humble opinion, your SMT ROI is higher with a top tier talent. Might seem like a no-brainer, but the number of interviews on superior outlets and the resulting impressions are directly tied to talent. A great spokesperson opens doors, gets media to plug a brand and offers the chance for major social engagement. Top tier talent can make for a great tease into commercial breaks or headlines for digital clicks and shares.
When pitching media in a narrow window of time (SMT), you are making the producer or host decide if they want to go through all the potential hassles of committing to the interview on that day/time only. Strong talent makes the commitment worth it. The media will already know what to expect from the interview, how to promote it and whether the brand mention is worth the chewing out they might get from a News Director or Program Director. Plus, the producer/journalist might not know when they’ll get the chance to talk to the talent again, so it’s amazing how accommodating they’ll end up being.
If you have top tier talent, maximize their time with a Customized Media Day or at least expect the standard SMT will be jam packed with high quality media outlets. (Same standard holds true for Internet Media Tours with expectations of gargantuan web numbers.)
If your talent doesn’t meet a top tier standard, then it’s acceptable to check down to an Integrated Media Tour embracing the PESO (Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned) model to reach the success benchmarks. It feels just like a satellite media tour and guarantees coverage with a talent who might not breakthrough. (Example talents: internal spokesperson, unknown credentialed expert, etc.)
As a broadcaster, I thrived on memorable left of center content to cut through the clutter. I’d prefer digging in on a unique angle with a story and doing something different with it. Guests didn’t matter as much to me because I knew in the end it was all about what they were plugging. Oh the stories I could tell of once being a PR person’s worst nightmare…
After committing to the “dark-side” and joining a boutique PR agency, I dug in on traditional media relations and social media content development. The skill of creating a unique take on a topic for broadcast applied to angle development for clients.
From my then new PR point of view, creating various hooks for clients, putting pitching through a process and developing media relationships was fun. Plus, with weeks to months to pitch and secure those major hits, it gives creativity the chance to win.
There's an issue with relying solely on topic for a successful SMT. If the media can’t do the interview in your window, they’ll take the idea and do it later with a local expert.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t always strive to create the best topic/segment possible for your media tour. But, expecting a killer media booking list with a great topic but mediocre talent is not realistic. Manage client expectations if this is their chosen path.
Exception to the rule: If you actually have something different or a topic tied to hot news, then topic can win for an SMT. Problem is drinking our own Kool-Aid on the possible greatness of our client’s hook/story. Little actually falls into this category.
Many conversations with those at various agencies lead me to believe the lack of honest counsel from other SMT vendors looking to close deals hurt credibility of the tactic.
Again, a less than stellar topic and talent media tour is executable, but it should be in the form of an Integrated Media Tour.
Matching a topic with the time of year is a common formula for deciding whether to execute an SMT. It’s why Co-op Media Tour calendars exist!
If a certain season isn’t a good match, there’s likely a National (Insert Topic) Day to choose from or one on the verge of creation. Not breaking news here, but the media is hip to this tactic. Unless the new national day is so different it stands out, please don’t expect it alone to be reason 25-30 hosts/journalists will take an interview.
But, with a phenomenal talent and standout topic, timing is the icing on the cake that adds a sense of urgency to lock in the interviews (and the media will try to do them live and/or post the story immediately).
As I wrote in “16 Tips for a Successful Satellite Media Tour”, avoid sweeps months if your first two “Ts” are average. TV stations are extra protective of what airs during ratings periods and a studio SMT with an unknown expert is not likely to book well – unless you embrace paid integrations.
Also remember major events can change the available media real estate. Examples include:
- Major sports
Note: Creatively tying your topic to these events can increase media opportunities.
What day of week and time of day are best for SMTs? There are always exceptions to the rule, but an analysis of the available media and 18 months of tour bookings show that Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday from 8a-12p offer the best prospects for interviews. Mondays tend to fill up with all the news of the weekend and look to the week ahead. Fridays can be great for lighter topics.
Bonus “T”: TRUST!
Trust if you run your potential satellite media tour through the 3T Filter (Talent, Topic, Timing) that you’ll have a good predictor of success.
And if you have any questions or doubt, then ask because I will give honest counsel and guide you towards the correct customizable media tactic for success. The former media personality, PR agency VP and now SMT guy in me wants every tour to be a winner for all parties involved.