Journalist Q&A: Must Know Tips from the Inside of a Local Newsroom
Local TV producer shares tips and details to consider when pitching local media
Shannon Delaney, Planning Editor and In Depth Producer at Spectrum News 13, is sharing her insight for companies interested in being featured on local TV news.
How do you prioritize stories or announcements sent to you each day?
I consider the source of the information, the relevance of the matter for our viewers, and the timing. The basic questions I ask for each entry are: Is this something we need to add to our newscast for the day? Do we need a reporter on it? If it’s a future event, is this something we will want to cover? I make notes in our planning system to remind myself that this is something we should put a reporter on or simply cover it – and why.
2. What do you look for when a news pitch from a company or PR person comes your way?
I look for the headline. What is this email trying to tell me? I.e. “City of Orlando unveils memorial for Dr. James D. Smith.” That allows me to know what the event is about and who is hosting it.
3. What event times would you recommend businesses should AVOID for pre-planned press opportunities?
In my experience it’s best to avoid the 9 a.m., noon, and 3:30-5:30p timeframes for any pre-planned press opportunities. Why?
9 a.m. – Most dayside crews are not in until 9 a.m. or a little after. You would have a higher chance for your event to be covered during a dayside shift simply because there are more bodies during that timeframe.
Noon – Most TV news stations have a live noon show and are banking on their reporters to be live for the noon show.
3:30-5:30p – This is crunch time for reporters/photographers in the field. They have to go through their interviews, write their scripts, edit video, and put together their PKG for the 5 p.m.
4. What kind of stories are you always on the lookout for?
Stories that provide Spectrum viewers to more fully engage in the issues impacting their local communities.
5. How important are visuals to your story? If there isn’t a strong one, is the story automatically thrown out?
Visuals are key for television news. Without the right visuals it could turn a great idea into a dull story and not appealing to the viewers. If the story pitch is strong, but relies heavily on documents, our photographers can always be creative with graphics to add into the story as b-roll.
6. When local companies/organization send story ideas your way, what makes them stand out?
When I see my name is the only one listed on the distribution list, those catch my attention; it makes me think it’s just for me – I have to read it. It’s also great to follow up on an email that was sent. If you’re new to your position and in the process of setting up your contact list, I would recommend calling each place and learn who you need to follow up with. It would either be someone on the assignment desk, planning editor, or even a reporter. Build a relationship with that person and it will make pitching much easier!