Clif Bar and PapaJohn’s Cut Through Newsroom Clutter and Get On-the-Air – How They Did It

(Originally posted August 20, 2008)

As I was watching the local KABC 6pm news on Monday in Los Angeles, I saw a tease for an upcoming segment on how to recycle your energy bar wrappers. The video used for the tease featured Clif Bars and looked like video from a b-roll package, but was this a b-roll feed or was it “something else?” Either way, I was interested for two reasons: #1 – I am a fanatic about recycling. #2 – Since it’s more and more challenging to get a b-roll package on-the-air in a climate increasingly “timid” about using corporate provided video, I was really interested to see how this rather commercial story featuring a brand name caught the eye of KABC.

A quick Google search followed by a couple of short phone calls and I got to the bottom of the story behind the story. The tape piece actually originated at KGO (ABC) San Francisco where it was then picked up for the ABC newsfeed. The in-house Clif Bar P.R. department had released a press release on the story in February of this year and it has been making a significant splash in print and online media. They had persistently pitched the story locally with KGO and then the timing finally clicked. Persistence paid off. This is not uncommon as when I worked as a producer for ABC, that’s how things would sometimes happen. A press kit or release might sit on my desk for several months as I liked the pitch well enough to hold onto it, but it wasn’t “breaking news.” Then all of sudden, it would become relevant to what we were doing (or we had a “slow” news day) and the story was alive.

Yes, persistence did pay off for Clif Bar, but if it wasn’t a good story, all the persistence in the world wouldn’t have motivated KGO to send their camera crew to the Clif Bar offices. (To see the KGO feature click here) So why did this story finally get on the air? Several reasons, first, the locally based company, Clif Bar, went to their hometown station to pitch the story. Network affiliates love local stories and since Clif Bar is based in the Bay Area, this was the first “hit.” Stations are often more apt to feature big companies if they are right in their own backyard. Second, Clif Bar is “the first energy bar to recycle wrappers” and in a rather non-traditional way. This is a winning angle because not only are they “the first,” but they are also on message to something big in the hearts of San Franciscans – recycling. They are, after all, the first city in the country to outlaw “evil” plastic grocery bags. Throw in the local fundraising element that gave the viewers a reason to care and show how you can take one great cause – recycling – and combine it with fundraising for another great cause and it’s great television. What really gave this story “legs” was when it got picked up on the ABC newsfeed so that it was no longer just a local story, but it was strong enough to get on the air in other major markets.

Posted by Marianne Schwab, Executive Producer, CMP Media Cafe

Copyright (c) 2008. CMP Media Cafe. All Rights Reserved.

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