When a couple of our staff members attended Brigton SEO last month we were privileged enough to hear Channel 4’s tech producer Geoff White talk to us about the difficulty of getting a story on the news in today’s environment.
We asked Geoff about his experiences and what he thought made a great news story and we are delighted to have the opportunity to share his thoughts with you in our post below. Geoff gives his point of view as a TV producer but it’s also interesting to hear his opinions on social media and it’s well earned position as a great news source – when it’s used correctly.
“The horrific events in Woolwich prompted wall-to-wall coverage in the days following the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby.
The events brutality and unexpectedness, followed by the emotional response of the victims family, made this a compelling news event.
Yet it was the chilling words of Michael Adebolajo spoken into the lens of a mobile phone camera that will be cemented in the nation’s memory.
Stepping back from the emotionally charged substance of the story, there are lessons here in what makes a piece of TV news journalism.
Pictures are at the heart of every TV news report, and with mobile phones being now near ubiquitous, a breaking news event of such drama will seldom be short of “user generated content” to illustrate it.
When seeking coverage on TV news outlets, marketers and PR professionals must likewise think in pictures. What will a journalist point a camera at? After the presenter has read the introduction, what piece of footage is going to make a viewer think “Wow, I’m going to stick with this for the next few minutes”.
In technology, my specialism, the suggested answer is often to use graphics. The problem is that when a viewer sees computer generated graphics, the story seems so distant and intangible as to be irrelevant. A story told entirely using graphics is extremely unlikely to get commissioned. Viewers want to see how a story impacts upon the real world, and preferably a real person.
This bring me to the second essential ingredient for TV news – “real people”. One of the reasons Adebolajo’s words were so striking that he seemed so real, so cogent that viewers could imagine having sat next to him on a bus or queuing behind him in a cafe.
Humans are more interested in news stories in which they see their fellow humans, without it there is no empathy in the story. For marketers, this means finding case studies, victims, business owners, real people who can explain how the issue impacted upon them.
It should be obvious from the above that the bar for TV news is high. Even in a 50 minute program like Channel 4 News, there is only room for a half a dozen or so packaged reports. Your client is going to have to fight for space, and will often lose.
In the world of web publishing, there’s no reason why outlets like Channel 4 News should be the sole focus. Using channels like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, marketers can control the message, build an audience and gain far more reliable metrics and feedback than they can from TV coverage. You can also decide your launch date, so that you can hold back for a quieter time when your message won’t be drowned out.”
We couldn’t agree more with Geoff. News has dramatically evolved in our lifetime and we must appreciate the role that social media is now playing within the industry whilst also continuing to note that TV still plays a massive part in bringing key news in a digestible form. No longer must we wait to hear reports 24 hours after an event has occurred in the daily newspaper. Not only do we hear the views of one single reporter. We hear live stories covered by real people in real time and news is more powerful and prominent within our everyday life than ever before.
Think about the last time that you heard a piece of news and remember who it came from and where you read it? We have a lot to be thankful for. Not only does the way we now review news feed our human desire to be nosey it also serves the opportunity to hear any significant warnings or alerts . The people who work tirelessly to bring us all the relevant news on our TV screens, like Channel 4, and the wealth of information that smartphones allow us to access. From mobile news apps that notify us of breaking news stories to our very own social media accounts.
Our special thanks go to Geoff for taking the time to write and share his thoughts with Digital & Wise.