Telling The Complete Story: Knowing What Producers And Reporters Need

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are good stories on TV or in print. When you turn on the TV or read the paper it may take only minutes out of your day, but in reality there is a tremendous amount of planning that goes into most stories.

A good public relations professional is there to pitch the story and supply information to the producer or reporter that completes the narrative. This doesn’t mean the PR person does the job for the producer or reporter, but instead aids them in shaping the story.

These stories are not a day’s worth of work and can take weeks of planning and coordinating. The most important piece the PR professional can do in this process is making the planning stages as seamless as possible. In order to do this, the PR person needs to think about what the producer or reporter needs and how to provide that to them in the most efficient way.

In other words, emailing or speaking with the producer or reporter and not giving them all the details are a major hindrance. To be successful, a PR person must think about each medium and what the producer or reporter may need.

For TV, a producer needs some great visuals and interviewees that have captivating stories that can add to the piece. At Ditto Public Affairs, we worked with the TODAY Show to do a piece on teens and substance abuse for our client, Newport Academy.

This segment took months (which included several conference calls with the producer and many emails) to plan because it involved a few teens that needed to be vetted and cleared with the producers. It also involved an on location shoot at the facility in Southern California, where each shot was maliciously chosen to feature the grounds and therapies Newport Academy offers. The shoot took about eight hours for what resulted in a five-minute segment.

A good example of a comprehensive print article also lies with Newport Academy’s Wall Street Journal feature on their cooking therapy at their Connecticut facility. This piece also included interviews with several teens and therapists. The reporter even deployed a photographer that visited the facility to take some shots of the cooking class in action. In its entirely, the piece took about a month to prepare.

Both of these instances involved a lot of logistics and time, but none the communication between PR person and producer or reporter was wasted. Each email or phone call was another building block for the story, which is why the results were a success.