Your PR Stunt-will it float? - Your Event and TV Coverage

It’s happened to all of us. You’ve come up with a great idea for an event b-roll package that the client has bought into – a giant Baked Alaska in the middle of Times Square that will be devoured by the remaining members of One Direction just before they break up. However, once it comes to executing the event none of the elements seem to fall into place and instead of a dessert the size of a small yacht, it’s an oversized cake that fits into a shopping cart that will be tasted by a food blogger – not nearly delivering the visuals that were initially pitched. If the event is not executed well or as initially planned, it doesn’t matter how good the story is on paper because it won’t hold any interest at assignment desks. We can make it sound amazing in our pitch efforts, but if the visuals are boring and no one shows up to the event stations simply are not going to use the footage.

So when you come up with an idea for an event b-roll package, be realistic on what can actually be executed before expectations are set too high.

Okay, so now you have the event you know can be pulled off ready to go – do you produce and distribute a b-roll package?  Most likely the answer is yes. But take these points into consideration:

  • How quirky and visually appealing is your story?
  • Is the event too localized?
  • Is your event able to tell a story in 30 seconds or less?
  • Do you have the first, the fastest, the biggest to add to the visuals?
  • Will you be able to make the visuals available by 2-3 p.m. ET on the day of the event?

Let’s say that all of the elements are in place – that means your b-roll is a shoe-in for airings right? Not necessarily – event b-rolls have a short shelf-life and there are factors that could hurt usage of the great b-roll you are offering stations, such as:

  • Breaking news – local and national
  • Weather stories – snow, heat waves, floods and Hurricanes
  • Sweeps
  • Championship Sports Games
  • Elections

All of these factors take away precious time from news rundown and limit the airtime for your piece. Some factors can be avoided and should be taken into account when planning your event date.

So, is there anyway to guarantee pick up for your event b-roll? Not really. Even if you have a celebrity (A or D list), be sure that the event has all the elements listed above. And, before you commit to your VIP talent be sure take into account that your local newscast has little space for celebrity news outside of gossip (when was the last time you saw a celebrity ribbon cutting on your local news that occurred in another market?) and many times celebrity events are better suited for the nationally syndicated entertainment programs.

And remember if event has no local media coverage – chances are outlets outside of the market may also not be interested in covering the event.

An added bonus to local media covering your event – the local affiliate may feed their footage to their network and then affiliates across the country use their footage. This will be instead of the b-roll that you produced – but this type of coverage is seen as editorial and can lead to increased viewership throughout the nation.

So, in this case - what is the point of spending money on b-roll in the first place?  You can’t always predict what will interest the media or if there will be a local breaking news story and none of the crews were able to show up—the b-roll would be all you’ve got—so it still pays to do a b-roll for a big event as a “safety net.” And, remember local affiliates may not have known the footage is even available if it hadn’t been for pitching the b-roll in the first place. Should a local affiliate cover the event, Boom publicists will make it a point to reach out to the affiliates across the country to encourage them to use locally produced b-roll footage.

The bottom line is that the success of your event b-roll package depends on the execution as well as the fickle news cycle on the day of your event. But, the good news is that stations are always looking for a visually compelling, fun kicker story that can end their news cast on an upbeat note.