The value of local TV withstands the test of time

June 7th 2016

In a world where content is king, social influencers are celebrities, and the internet has lost its capital “I” in the AP style guide, it is easy to lose sight of the place millions of Americans still turn for their news… the local news.

The good news for storytellers and PR specialists is that stations all over the country, and especially beyond the top 10 DMAs, are hungry for segments that connect their viewers with national trends and provide interesting insights. The better news is that it isn’t necessary to hit the road with your spokesperson and the entire dog-and-pony show.

At Mfa, we’re finding that a strategically messaged Satellite Media Tour (SMT) is the best way to infiltrate a mix of local and national outlets. While it might feel a bit retro, it’s actually a very modern and efficient way to make the most of your spokesperson’s time.

Mfa has facilitated three SMTs in the last month, taking place in three different locations with five different spokespeople. These three tours have generated 90+ television and radio hits through interviews with local affiliate stations and syndicated news networks, infiltrating markets including NYC, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Seattle, Raleigh, Ft. Lauderdale, Detroit and Chicago, to name just a few.

The keys to SMT success:

  • Prep for multiple scenarios: live high-energy segments; taped interviews where the interviewee can’t remember who they’re talking to; static in the earpiece; weather conditions if you’re on location outdoors. As with all interviews, anything can happen.
  • Think about the backdrop. For most TV interviews, we spend time reminding spokespeople to avoid white shirts and busy patterns. The set or location adds another visual to the mix. Consider staging, styling and branding to reflect the interview topic.
  • Avoid overbranding. While the goal of any interview is of course to deliver key messages that tell your story in an interesting way, the less branded the pitch and proposed interview content sound, the more segments you’ll lock in. Think strategically about how to effectively convey your brand essence without dropping your company name in every sentence. (See “Think about the backdrop,” above.)
  • Make your story regionally relevant. With 20-30 interviews lined up back-to-back, from a single chair over seven hours, it is easy to get in the rut of repeating the messaging that was carefully crafted and dutifully rehearsed. Keep energy high by having a regionally-specific proof point for every segment.

Our most important tip for SMT success is to go into the planning process with a positive outlook and specific expectations. Will an SMT land you a coveted segment on Ellen? No. Will it get you in front of hundreds of thousands of consumers nationwide whom you would not normally reach through television or radio? Absolutely.

By Samantha Lacher

Sam is a Director at Mfa. She leads the agency’s travel and hospitality team, and also guides accounts that directly connect with kids and families. An early riser by nature, Sam is always happy to facilitate the early morning start of a satellite media tour (really!) and has planned and implemented television and radio interviews nationally and locally for various clients.


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