Sound Bite Case Study: Meet the News Media Where It Lives

In the communications business, to say we need to meet the media where they live is essentially to say, make it as easy as possible on reporters, editors, journalists and producers. Give them the content they need when they need it, where they need it and in the most user-friendly format possible.

The problem most newsrooms face these days is lack of resources. Their people don’t have the time, sometimes the technical capacity or the people to gather and process all of the information and news they could actually use.

We’ve dealt with this sort of thing for a long time in PR. The news release itself is one of the earliest tools the public relations field created to give journalists information in the most usable information possible. To be sure, a good news release is not a leaflet or an advertisement, but something written in journalistic style with actual news content at its core.

Fast forward to today. Most content is digital, and as such, it is words, pictures, sounds and video.

Still, most newsrooms rely on their own staff members to conduct individual one-on-one interviews to capture audio and video of interviewees for online, podcast, radio and TV broadcast content.

Throughout the pandemic, I’ve consistently arranged for TV stations and other media all over the country to conduct interviews with my clients via Zoom or Skype.

Prior to the pandemic, TV news operations were not as inclined to use Zoom interviews and preferred in-person interviews, complete with reporter, camera operator, and perhaps even a producer. Now, it’s extremely common to simply fire up Zoom and do a live interview that way.

An Old Idea Becomes New

That’s where we were able to tap an old idea and give it some fresh flavor and expediency for a current client.

Many years ago, the PR field would incorporate audio sound bites to complement news releases that were physically mailed or delivered to radio stations. The content would be copied onto cassette tapes and included in publicity packages, but because of logistics, it was too cumbersome to do this on a daily basis. It had to be part of a more comprehensive campaign to justify the time and expense.

Then came video news releases (VNRs). These are pre-produced news features that are prepared to meet the highest production values of television news. Again, because of the time and expense involved in producing them, these aren’t daily occurrences in PR and have had to be part of a larger campaign to justify their expense.

Another problem VNRs have had is the perception that they are “fake news,” because some TV stations may have run them as-is without crediting the source.

But in the past few months, thanks the tools at our and a well-oiled machine in working with a client, we’ve been able to efficiently identify topics, subject matter experts and prepare credible and valuable content for digital and electronic media.

In short, we provide fresh content in the form of sound bites for the media without having to arrange a series of one-on-one interviews with subject matter experts.

How It Works

Here are the steps:

  1. We identify a timely topic, and then we identify the right SME on the client side.
  2. I interview them via Zoom or another platform, and I record it.
  3. I quickly produce 3-4 Q&As using the fresh content that and then it is posted to the client’s online newsroom. Of course, it’s not limited to a client newsroom.
  4. The technology is flexible enough to affordably accommodate the full range of client platforms, or even a lack of existing platforms.
  5. Media alerts are created, and the sound bites are posted while the subject is still in the news.
  6. Then, we proceed with basic media relations outreach centered on the content.

Early Outcomes

We have been able to do this without taking client staff away from their primary responsibilities, and we make the best use of our SMEs’ time.

In the first months of this program, our SMEs have weighed in on the supply chain, pandemic, and travel logistics matters. On one issue, three SMEs addressed a group of questions each on the supply chain.

On average, about 400 media contacts downloaded the responses to each of the questions. In a few cases, print media picked up the sound bites for use as part of larger articles. One cable news network’s website did the same. And another cable news network not only used the content, but then followed up to arrange its own one-on-one interview.

If you would like to know more about this, just let me know.

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