The ever-increasingly elusive live media tour interview; everyone wants it, not everyone gets it, with the only exception being Donald Trump.
A decade ago, anywhere from 50 to 75 percent of our media tour interviews were live. Today, without a big name talent or a major newsmaker, 20 percent or fewer interviews are live. Why the shift?
1. Too many unprofessional media tours have burned producers; multiple logos, inexperienced spokespeople, no news hook, and “bait and switch” tactics in which the producer is pitched one thing and gets something entirely different. Producers are accountable for what goes on the air, and some have been reprimanded or even fired because they booked one too many of these. Out of an abundance of caution, most of them tape segments first before putting them on the air.
2. The “Trump Factor” presents a political landscape unlike any we’ve previously seen; rallies, fist fights, name calling, endorsements, upsets, speculation; then throw in a Supreme Court nomination, or terror attacks, or the death of a former First Lady and the news plays out in real time – with your spokesperson most likely getting preempted.
3. Media tours have always been at the mercy of breaking local breaking news. Whether it's fire, crime or natural disasters, it’s very possible your live interview will get bumped. Again, taped interviews are your friend.
4. Tape always offers the opportunity to take your message viral via social media, blogs, web sites, and so on.
Unfortunately, too many in our industry take the course of least resistance, producing tours that are basically infomercials, and the broadcast news media has reacted exactly the way you would expect them to.
Remember, in public relations, we seek to raise awareness and positively influence audiences. The hard sell is what advertising does.
Here are some things to think about to ensure live or taped interviews with your client’s spokesman:
- Is your vendor telling you what you want to hear…or what you need to know?
- Is the pitch the kind media will respond to or is it just a rehash of your press release?
- Is your spokesperson correctly trained?
Producers are the gatekeepers. If they’re investing their time and resources into taping the interview, they have every intention in airing it as long as you don’t give them reasons not to. Public relations tactics such as radio, co-op and satellite tours are no doubt impacted by this new political landscape. And the live interview windows are narrowing. However, there are certain tricks of the trade you can adopt to still secure an abundant of media coverage in this chaotic news cycle.