One of the attitudes I’ve encountered while working in PR is that broadcast PR opportunities are only suitable for consumer stories, or, at least, colleagues or fellow PR professionals have said that consumer stories are better-suited to broadcast.
Nothing could be further from the truth though. In fact, there are plenty of opportunities to get B2B stories onto broadcast channels.
For example, the Business stories on BBC Breakfast are a long-standing and popular part of the programme, and are so prominent that they prompted the #StephInAHiVis hashtag on Twitter at one point because of how often we’d see Steph McGovern doing segments on a building site or in a factory. The BBC World Service also broadcasts Business Daily on a, well, daily basis too.
Other TV opportunities for B2B stories also exist. Ian King Live on Sky News being a note-worthy and plentiful example given it broadcasts Monday-Friday at 10am and sees Ian King regularly interviewing leaders in business, finance and economics. The same is also true at the local level – I’ve placed B2B stories on both BBC North West Tonight and Granada Reports in the past, for instance.
Opportunities for business stories can also be found on radio, particularly at the BBC at both a local and national level. For example, in addition to prominent national shows, such as BBC Radio 4’s Money Box or BBC Radio 5 Live’s Wake Up to Money, the BBC also features business-focused shows on its local stations too. BBC Ulster has Inside Business featuring commentary and analysis on business and the economy in Northern Ireland every Friday, while BBC Radio Lancashire continues to feature stories during its daily drivetime show. Anyone who has worked in B2B PR will know to email relevant stories to the BBC Business Planning Unit, which now serves the corporation’s business output across TV, radio and online, too.
Furthermore, media outlets will often illustrate an issue affecting consumer stories by speaking to business leaders. Therefore, opportunities also exist within consumer media too, and so, if you are looking for opportunities to put a B2B client forward for comment and interview opportunities, it pays to consider a broadcaster’s full schedule of programming.
You also only have to look at LinkedIn to see that ‘business personalities’ are not the same as they once were. Consider the posts of Steven Bartlett, Ash Jones or Ellie Middleton, for example. They all focus on new ways of working, personal development and, in Steven’s case in particular, business investment. All of them are speaking to B2B audiences with their posts, but it doesn’t feel like it because those posts are brimming with the kind of personality we PRs would associate with the influencers we might approach to front a consumer campaign. The end result is that those B2B posts are arguably more authentic and engaging, leading to greater discussion of the topics they are writing about.
The reality is that the two worlds – B2B and consumer – have blended now, which is understandable, as business leaders and employees alike are also consumers themselves outside of work, and so, don’t only pay attention to B2B media.
Therefore, if a business only ever ‘talks’ through one channel, it is demonstrating how limited its approach is.
On this, it pays to fully consider the reach a story can have. For example, some may look at a B2B story and see it as one that is only fit for trade publications. However, by the fact that it is a newsworthy story, it actually speaks to a developing issue among a subset of people. Hence, there may also be a more consumer-friendly human interest story there where you can explore why and what is happening with that group. Very quickly then, a business-to-business story can also depict what is happening in a community that affects far more people than just those who read a quarterly trade magazine. When you also remember that some B2B businesses are harder to gain access to and often have interesting visuals, you start to have a very compelling package then.
Finally, broadcast has a very strong link to ‘employer brand’ activity. Do your staff really read the trade magazines you leave in reception, or is it more likely that they watch BBC Breakfast, Good Morning Britain or Sky News over breakfast and then listen to the local radio or The Today Programme on the way into work? Similarly, do they follow local news on social media, or do they watch the evening bulletins? Broadcast has that certain je ne sais quoi that print and online often fails to grab when it comes to employees.
Thus, the argument could be made that many business stories are also consumer stories, and so we PRs need to recognise when a story may have a broader appeal and not restrict ourselves to purely B2B outlets when selling-in.
Ultimately, when pitching any story to broadcasters, be it B2B or consumer, the same rules will apply; the person that you are putting forward for an interview needs to be a very good talker who is knowledgeable about their subject and has an informed opinion that they are willing to share. They may also need to be informed about the other issues of the day too, as the presenter may come to them for comment as part of wider panel discussions.
On this point, I cannot emphasise enough the need for those being put forward for an interview to be willing to express their opinion rather than sitting on the fence. From experience of speaking to journalists across the media landscape, one of producers’ and journalists’ biggest bugbears is speaking to interviewees who then say something to the effect of “I couldn’t comment on that” or parroting a vanilla corporate statement when asked about the crux of the matter. It also makes the interviewee (as well as us, their PR people) look bad too, as it demonstrates a lack of authenticity on their part and an unwillingness to engage with the issues at hand. In that sense then, it is also our responsibility as PR professionals to make sure that those we put forward are fully-prepared and confident enough to voice their views in a knowledgeable and reasonable way.
It should go without saying that good visuals are also very important when pitching someone for any broadcast PR opportunities, including radio opportunities. Radio stations now often film things, both in the field and in-studio, for use on the station’s website and social media channels. Always remember to think about this aspect then – What does your client’s workplace look like? Could a broadcast interview easily be recorded there? – when pitching to both TV and radio producers, as an interesting backdrop could be the thing that persuades them to send a film crew down and speak to your client. It is arguably why #StephInAHiVis became a thing, as Steph McGovern enjoyed getting out of the studio and showing the nation the UK’s range of construction, manufacturing and tertiary sector workplaces. It’s for this reason that BBC Breakfast has its weather presenters broadcast from across the country too, and this is another way for businesses to get themselves broadcast opportunities.
It would be wrong to think that broadcast opportunities are only suitable for consumer PR stories then. What producers and planning units care about is the strength of the story, how interesting it is and whether it will appeal to a large section of the audience or not, regardless of if it is a B2B or consumer story.
Brett Walker is a freelance PR consultant based in Greater Manchester with experience of public sector, in-house and agency PR.