Posts Tagged ‘SMT Spokesperson’

Checklist for a Successful Satellite Media Tour Production

May 17, 2017

Satellite Media Tours (SMTs) have been around for several decades and even with all the new bells and whistles in the P.R. tool box, they are still one of the most effective ways to make a big media splash with TV (and radio with the SMT/RMT hybrid) in a five-hour span of time.

CMP Media Cafe SMT on location in Oahu.

An SMT is a series of pre-booked interviews conducted via satellite with a spokesperson in one city and television station reporters in selected cities across the country. The spokesperson speaks from one location in our Los Angeles or New York studio (or any studio or location in the country or around the world) and we electronically switch the spokesperson in sequence from one station to another, conducting live or taped one-on-one interviews with local reporters. In essence, a spokesperson can visit 15-to-25 cities in a matter of hours and this gives your company immediate access to the news media.

Once you’ve determined the basics for your SMT including your story angle, spokesperson, and have a booked tour, here are a few tips to guarantee a successful satellite media tour.

The Day Before the SMT – Checklist

The devil is in the details and the day before the tour is all about the spokesperson and a studio set check.

For the Spokesperson. There are five essential items that you need to do prior to the SMT. If you haven’t addressed these key ingredients prior to this date, this is the final opportunity.

  • Invest in Media Training.  I highly recommend a media training session. You are investing a significant amount of budget into the SMT and going that little extra on the budget is like insurance. Even if you have an experienced spokesperson or celebrity, they need to prep for THIS message. Not convinced? We have five questions to ask about media training that are a must read. We offer media training services. In fact, I’ve even written a book on it: The Insider’s Guide to Media Training.
  • Discuss Wardrobe Options.  There are specific rules for dressing for television so do not rely on your spokesperson to “show up” in a wardrobe you find pleasing or that represents your brand. There is a lot to this topic so please download this free wardrobe and make-up tip sheet that I offer as a bonus to readers of The Insider’s Guide to Media Training.
  • Confirm a Professional Make-Up Artist. We provide a professional make-up artist for all of our SMTs as part of our package. You need someone who understands the art of applying make-up for TV since it is different from other specialties. We work pros who have provided services for A-list celebrities, but if you have a celebrity spokesperson, they may want to hire a specific make-up artist so definitely ask them well before the date of the SMT if this is a preference. Also, make sure you confirm the rate for a specific make-up artist since the rate may exceed the “going rate” for SMTs and that budget needs to be approved so you’re not dealing with any surprise overages.
  • Prepare Cue Cards for Main Message Points. Even the most experienced spokespersons occasionally need to reference cue cards. In the situation of an SMT, there is a lot of deja vu happening when a spokesperson repeats the same interview up to 25 times so cue cards should be prepared to help guide them. I like to recommend that the spokesperson prepares their own since they are working with the messaging in their own words, but it is essential that these are CUE cards and NOT the script on cue cards. You can also work with them to provide them if they do not want this responsibility. You don’t need special materials for this. It’s easy to just print them out on a regular paper (use Landscape/Horizontal printing).
  • Ask About Catering Requests. Our SMTs always include a catered hot breakfast and in the era of “special needs eaters,” don’t forget to ask your spokesperson if they any special requests (or dietary restrictions) for catering. You don’t want a cranky spokesperson because they’re missing their favorite breakfast food or latte. Communicate any special requests to your SMT producer.

Visit the Studio and Set.  If the set has special requirements including props, always visit the studio and approve the set the day before the tour. This is generally done in the late afternoon (between 3pm to 5pm) since the studio will have other projects using the space prior to that time. Your SMT producer can make special arrangements, if needed, for earlier access. Make sure that any imperative props that are shipped arrive two days before the SMT and always have a contingency plan. If it is not an option to visit the set, request that the producer email photos of the set to you in advance so they can make any adjustments in advance (if necessary).

Plan On an Early Night.  Most SMTs require a 5:00am or 6:00am arrival or call time (that’s on the East Coast) and three hours earlier for the West Coast, so plan for an early night so you’re well rested. Also, confirm a car service or know your route the studio in advance.

 

The SMT Production Day – Checklist

If you have done your work the day before, then the day of production is an easy one so you can arrive at the studio, greet the spokesperson and while they’re in make-up, you can grab your breakfast in the green room.

Brief the Spokesperson. While the talent is make-up, take the opportunity to review the messaging for the day and ask them if they have any final questions. If you have new information that may help them (like a breaking news story reporters may ask about), prepare them with an appropriate response and way to pivot back to messaging.

Set the Cue Cards. Work with the producer to get the cue cards set for the Spokesperson for messaging. If a teleprompter is available, we put the info regarding the name of the anchor, station, and market so that the Spokesperson has an opportunity to personalize each interview. If a teleprompter is not an option, the small cue cards will do the trick and the cameraman will usually change them out between interviews.

Technical Rehearsal. I always schedule a technical rehearsal with the spokesperson at least 25 minutes before our first SMT interview (or hit). This gives the talent an opportunity to get warmed up and the control room can fine tune any tape roll-ins so that the b-roll will match the messaging or camera operators are clear on what their framing will be (if it’s a two camera SMT). Finally, this is your chance to help the spokesperson polish any final messaging. Watch their body language and make sure they are not slouching, fidgeting, or touching their hair (or other nervous gestures) and make them aware of it so they can self-correct.

Pay Attention to Each Interview.   It’s very easy to get distracted during a long SMT with emails and other business, but don’t do it. Follow along with each interview since no one knows the messaging better than you do and if the Spokesperson gets off message or gets thrown a curve ball with an interview, be ready to assist with any redirection. Keep in mind that your attitude and energy will directly impact your spokesperson, so supportive and excited when relaying feedback on messaging. It’s also best to have only one person in charge of communicating feedback so that the Spokesperson does not get rattled by too many voices. Determine with the SMT Producer how you want to handle this in advance. High energy is a must so keep an eye out to ensure the talent doesn’t start to fade or lose any steam in the middle of a tour. Finally, take notes about particularly good interviews that you may want to get as airchecks.

Document and Share on Social.   Take the opportunity to take lots of photos and short videos for social media channels. Get posed shots as well as some candid looks from behind-the-scenes. Keep it fun and light. You may want to have some tweets and posts preplanned and in your back pocket as well as short video tweet ideas (think in 9 seconds or less), snapchats, and Facebook live with a sneak peek behind-the-scenes in real-time. Promote the live events the day before and, if you’re working with a celebrity, ask for questions in advance and they’ll answer them live on social. Help prepare some witty responses, where appropriate, that weaves in a short plug for your product. Integrating social media into the mix adds even more value to the SMT. You may want to wait until you get your final SMT rundown until you schedule the social media and then plug it into the schedule, but be sure you let your SMT producer know you need this scheduled in.

Stay Calm and Carry On. There are a lot of moving parts during the SMT and even the best-planned events can have a wrinkle or two. If you’re working with a professional team, they’ll handle any unexpected events in a calm fashion.

If you’re considering an SMT for your client or brand, please feel free to contact me at CMP Media Cafe for a free consultation regarding your project.

Peace and coconuts,

Marianne Schwab, Executive Producer, CMP Media Cafe

Follow us on Twitter:  @CMP_MediaCafe

 

 

 

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Guidelines for Identifying a SMT Spokesperson

July 18, 2014

Identifying the right spokesperson for your satellite media tour is pivotal to your broadcast public relations success and can be one of the more challenging aspects of producing the SMT. Here are some basic guidelines for identifying a SMT spokesperson when navigating options on this critical decision for your media tour as well as your surrounding public relations campaign.

Choose an Expert Relevant to the SMT Topic or Product. Contracting the appropriate expert for your topic adds credibility to your message. When conducting your spokesperson search, you should look for an expert who has a respected reputation in the industry that makes sense for your product and/or topic. For example if you’re an automotive company, you should identify an appropriate car expert – it could be a consumer editor of an auto magazine, car care specialist, or even a classic car expert depending on your angle.. If you’re message points are geared toward the latest beauty product, then think of ways where an expert like a dermatologist would add credibility to your message.

Experts Should Have a Book or a Blog (or Both). An expert who has written a book or who has a popular blog on their field of expertise will be highly desirable by television and radio producers. There is nothing like a blog or a book to add credibility to your expert as someone who is reputable in their field. Celebrity experts are also a good choice. A celebrity expert is someone like a chef that is well known or a designer that has a TV show

Spokesperson Should Have a Proven Media Appearance Track Record. Look for an expert who has had experience in broadcast media. Your ideal spokesperson will have had numerous radio and TV appearances. If they have not had media experience, you can always media train them, but verify that they have media potential. This can often be determined in an interview either over the phone and ideally face-to-face or via Skype. You want to confirm that your expert is also “media friendly” in their appearance and how they speak.

Social Media Influence a Plus. Although it is not a deal breaker, more and more clients find that a spokesperson who also has a very visible social media presence a necessary part of the equation. This is an added value since the spokesperson can also leverage their social media following to reach a broader and targeted audience by posting interviews of the satellite media tour and even tips regarding the clients message points to their social media outlets. Depending on the industry, keep in mind that many excellent experts may not be social media savvy.

Don’t Over Pay a Spokesperson Fee. How much you pay your spokesperson is always a little bit of the sticky wicket and I am often flabbergasted by the amount that is paid for certain experts or talent for an SMT primarily because I think some clients overpay. Depending on the reputation of the expert, fees can vary dramatically. I’ve seen them range everywhere from $1,000 honorariums up to $100,000 for top celebrity talent. Unless you happen to have an A-List celebrity as your SMT spokesperson, you should not pay more than $5,000-$10,000 in my opinion. The spokesperson’s job is to deliver the message on camera in a credible way, but in most cases the expert you contract (although pivotal to a good interview) is not the main reason stations are going to book the SMT. In most cases, stations will book the interviews based on a strong and provocative story angle. The spokesperson’s credibility, although essential to the story, is not usually the catalyst that ultimately entices producers to book the interview except in the case of an A-list celebrity.

Finally, the question that is sure to come up is, “should the spokesperson be a company executive and or employee?”   The answer to that is that it really depends on a lot of variables where the story angle is concerned and the objective of the satellite media tour. Obviously, the head of Microsoft, Bill Gates, is a very desirable interview. However, unless the company executive is also strategic to the brand or invention of the product, they may not be the best choice as a spokesperson since newsrooms will often perceive that as being “too commercial.” A natural exception would be a company executive responding in a crisis public relations situation.

The spokesperson search for your PR campaign always presents challenges. Feel free to consult with CMP Media Café when you are in planning stages so that we may assist you in navigating options and guide you through this process.

Peace and coconuts,

Marianne Schwab, Executive Producer, CMP Media Cafe

Follow us on Twitter:  @CMP_MediaCafe

Copyright (c) 2014. CMP Media Cafe. All Rights Reserved.

 

When a Celebrity SMT Spokesperson Makes Sense

July 16, 2014

When does it make sense to spend a lot of money on the celebrity spokesperson for a satellite media tour or publicity campaign? In today’s evolving broadcast media world, one of the most important decisions you make when using a single client satellite media tour as part of your campaign is the story angle and the choice of spokesperson. Let’s talk about the spokesperson along with the pros and cons when it comes to using a celebrity for a satellite media tour.

An A-List Celebrity Will Guarantee Top Markets for Most SMTs. Hiring a celebrity as a spokesperson for your brand, service, or product makes good sense when it is an A-Lister or even B-Lister, but in most cases, any celebrity that doesn’t carry that clout will not be a good investment as far as ROI on earned interviews. An A-List celebrity will guarantee top markets for most SMTs, but keep in mind that you need to allow 4-to-6 weeks to book a successful satellite media tour even with an A-Lister. Lack of planning and lead time will dramatically diminish the successful return on the budget spent.

Is the Big Fat Fee Worth It? The answer to whether or not the big fat fee for the spokesperson is worth it or not is a personal professional decision contingent on the ability of the spokesperson to generate interest for top market interviews in addition to the elevation of the product reputation and brand awareness with your target demographic with the spokespersons fame. If the celebrity attached is part of an overall brand building objective, then spend the money to find the right spokesperson for your brand. The amount you spend on the fee for an A-Lister usually guarantees national and top market interviews, but when a client settles for a B-List celebrity or below, the interview results decrease significantly.

Hire the Right Celebrity, Not “Any” Celebrity. One of the biggest mistakes I have seen clients make is engaging the services of the “wrong” celebrity spokesperson – usually because they have vetted them appropriately  for the brand or product they are being asked to represent. If the celebrity has no organic connection to the product, then paying them to recite message points just because you like the celebrity (or they have significant name recognition) is a big mistake. The perfect synergy occurs when the celebrity really likes the brand, believes in the product, and it’s obvious to viewers in their delivery.

I have seen clients be very disappointed with high paid celebrity talent when they have discovered that the celebrity’s real-life experience was contradictory to the product message they were paid to deliver. For example, a client had a beauty product to “reverse” aging and the celebrity spokesperson said that they were not a fan of plastic surgery during the satellite media tour interviews. I later came out that this spokesperson had a plastic surgery procedure or two prior to endorsing the product. Integrity is everything so appropriately vet your spokesperson regarding their product experience so that their messaging will be true to who they are as people and to your product.

Another circumstance involved a celebrity who was hired as a spokesperson for a charitable organization and who had absolutely no connection to the cause but represented themselves to the contrary.  When the spokesperson was “pressed” to describe their personal connection, they said it was “too personal” to discuss in interviews.  If the celebrity does not have a relationship to the charity (or refuses to talk about the connection they do have), then they are not a good match. It’s also difficult to book a celebrity spokesperson for a story involving a charitable cause if they have absolutely no link to it other than they think it’s a good idea. I personally and professionally do not like that charitable organizations pay celebrity spokespersons outrageous amounts of money to promote a charitable cause. In my humble opinion, a celebrity should offer services for a charitable organization they believe in on a pro bono basis or for a SAG day rate. I think they are not being truthful to the public when they are a paid spokesperson for a cause.  I am sure there are many in the industry that disagree with me on this issue, especially agents.

A Spokesperson Agreement Should Include Appearances in Addition to the SMT. The celebrity’s services should be part of a broader campaign that is not limited to a satellite media tour. Hiring a celebrity where the satellite media tour spokesperson is the only part of their contract is a mistake. Their services should also include national TV studio interviews, print, radio, web and even personal appearances where it makes sense. In general, most of these services will be provided within a one-to-two day (or more) time frame. Finally, don’t forget that media training your celebrity spokesperson is essential to getting the most out of your investment or you could end up wasting a lot of money, so find out the top five mistakes SMT spokespersons make.

All of this information may sound very basic — almost like “Hiring a Celebrity Spokesperson 101,” but I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, when it comes to hiring a spokesperson so never assume the obvious.

Feel free to call me and consult when you are in the planning stages of finding the right spokesperson to generate media interest for your brand, product, or service.

Peace and coconuts,

Marianne Schwab, Executive Producer, CMP Media Cafe

Follow us on Twitter:  @CMP_MediaCafe

Copyright (c) 2014. CMP Media Cafe. All Rights Reserved.