Even today with the instant nature of social media, live TV is still exciting. There are no rehearsals, limited time to prepare and no editing. It is this one chance to get it right which can concern many clients when considering a live TV opportunity and there are plenty of blooper clips which demonstrate the perils of this type of publicity.
SRF has worked on many live TV segments for clients ranging from airlines, trains and hovercraft to jewellery and business parks and here we have provided some tips and hints to help businesses prepare.
Many live TV opportunities occur at the last minute – with a phone call from the station’s producers. Sometimes the programme is reacting to a late change and sometimes it is just the way they operate. The important thing is to still do your due diligence on the channel, programme, presenters and scope of the segment. It is better to miss the opportunity than agree to activity which does not fit with your values. Producers and researchers expect to be asked questions and the best run programmes will have answers ready.
Define the parameters
Ensure that in these initial discussions you outline your requirements and start to introduce any known limitations. There is an important distinction between progressing the opportunity and leading the producers on. Explain up front how soon you can confirm each aspect and detail any specific issues which need to be considered. By being open and honest you will save the producers time and achieve a much better result.
Issues to consider include safety concerns, legal duty of care to your customers, maintaining operational efficiency, licencing obligations and any regulatory prohibitions.
Having heard what the TV programme wants and explained what is possible, you can arrive at what is normally a negotiated compromise. It is now essential to brief the business and ensure that either you inform all those staff involved – not just the senior executives. Too often businesses only focus on those who are speaking on live TV, when all employees at the filming location should be notified.
Prepare your environment
As well as preparing the staff, it is vital to run a visual check on the areas which are to appear in the frame. This check should not just be limited to a tidy up, although that it is worthwhile, but needs an expert eye to spot other problems. These include what is visible on computer screens, on desks and on noticeboards. Look at what words can be read and ask is that information you want to share.
When the TV crew arrive, be as hospitable as possible. Offer refreshments, a room for them to prepare themselves and check to see if there is anything they might need. Ensure that all the crew is catered for, not just the presenters or talent as a friendly cameraman can be invaluable. Introduce the crew to everyone who they meet.
Use this introduction time to check that their plans have not changed and accept that things can go wrong. A national broadcaster ditching a drone in the Solent and Victoria Station being evacuated are just two examples of unfortunate incidents which SRF saw and occurred less than five minutes before going on air. Professional live TV crews are very likely to have a Plan B – just make sure you know about it and can facilitate it.
Live TV gives instant exposure, with millions of people seeing your brand in real-time and generating huge awareness. Make sure your website and other sales channels are operating to their optimum so you can exploit any uplift.
Once the excitement has faded, it is essential that follow up activity is executed promptly. Thank the initial contact, make sure the crew onsite are thanked and also the channel, programme and presenters, if appropriate. This can be done on social media but should also be done privately. These contacts could be extremely useful in the future. Companies should also thank all their staff, pointing out ways for employees to watch the programme on catch-up.
If you want your brand to get the maximum benefit from live TV exposure opportunities, please get in touch.