I had dinner at the home of a Washington, D.C. television reporter over the weekend, and while sitting in front of a crackling fireplace, we talked a bit about where our paths cross – news and PR. And one of the most enlightening comments worth sharing was this:
With limited staff, TV stations simply cannot risk going out to cover an event unless they’re sure it’ll result in a story. They’re devoting at least two people, putting them on the road for maybe a half day, burning a half a tank of gas and lugging a half-million dollars of equipment. Come back empty handed? Not a risk they’re willing to take.
That’s one reason a fire, shooting or accident is a sure thing to make the news. Not only does it keep the ratings game going, it’s pretty much a guarantee that the crew will return with something to air. The ribbon cutting or “special announcement”? Don’t bet on it.
So, PR people, put yourselves in the TV producer’s shoes and think about the economic risk factor the next time you’re prepping that TV pitch.