|Guide to Managing Media and Public Relations in the Linux Community|
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In television and radio news shows, news editors, some reporters, and even anchors have input on the news to be aired. In other types of shows, often the producer decides which stories to cover in future broadcasts. Segment producers will produce the individual stories for a broadcast, while assistant producers may perform specialized functions, such as finding interview subjects.
The same considerations of "newsworthiness" discussed for newspapers apply to television broadcast news, with the added element of visuals. There are several types of TV programming you will want to consider. These include educational and informational programs, local and community news programs, and perhaps a business program. Understand the types of shows being produced and aired in your regional area, and then pitch your story for an in-studio interview or a feature.
Ensuring that you are pitching the right story to the right TV program staffer will be discussed later in this guide.
Radio time for news stories is very limited. Usually there is only enough time for headlines and summaries of the day's top stories, but radio still has great opportunities for your organization.
Some radio stations offer expanded news coverage and features (this is sometimes called "foreground programming"). Most Linux news has a better chance of getting coverage or an interview in news programming than in regular programming. The best chance of all lies in targeting an all-news station. Approximately 45 minutes of each hour are devoted to news, sports, weather, special reports, and features. (The remaining 15 minutes are for commercials.) All-news radio stations operate more like a magazine or newspaper, with specific departments and editors, more producers, more reporters, and therefore, more available resources. Stories that interest a significant portion of their listening community or that appeal to deep-pocketed sponsors will be given the most attention. You could pitch a "Linux for business" type of story. Even if your underlying goal is to promote your organization, the story or interview must avoid advertising or commercial overtones of any kind. Nothing kills the news media's credibility faster or turns off listeners more than inappropriate jingoism.
Talk shows, whether on television or radio, are excellent vehicles for covering a wide variety of topics. Talk shows often invite industry experts to be commentators or participants in a panel discussion. In addition, these shows often have phone-in segments, inviting listeners to ask questions or make comments. These characteristics make the talk show an ideal forum for raising your organization's visibility.
For these programs, there is usually an assistant producer responsible for lining up interesting guests, as well as a producer who coordinates the overall process. Both email and telephone contact with the assistant producer can prove rewarding. The host, interviewer, or moderator of the show does not usually choose the guests or have final say in who appears. Unless instructed otherwise, contacting the assistant producer or producer is best.