Metro Detroit TV News, PR Dos/Don’ts & The Future of News

By: Megan Peterson

Business Wire, in partnership with PRSA Detroit and IABC Detroit, hosted yet another rockin’ Meet the Media event at the end of April. The event featured three metro Detroit TV news stations.

  • Rhonda LaVelle, News Director, WXYZ Channel 7 ABC
  • Kevin Roseborough, Vice President and News Director, WJBK Channel 2 FOX
  • Kim Voet, News Director, WDIV Channel 4 NBC

Let me just say, we covered A LOT of ground.

First, let me start with Do’s/Dont’s that were covered, specifically for PR pros:

  • DO pitch reporters, producers and/or anchors; building relationships with these folks is crucial according to Kim.
  • DON’T send News Directors pitches/releases early in the morning. Kim said that she typically gets 25 or so pitches before 6:15 a.m. on a daily basis (yikes!). The sentiment was that News Directors aren’t the relationship you should focus on in your media relations efforts (see the previous bullet!).
  • DO visit the station(s) in-person, Kim noted that often the ‘average Joe’ is welcomed into the studios to observe and it’s a great way to build relationships.
  • DON’T bring/send gifts, but you already know that (journalistic and PR ethics are at stake!). All three of our panelists HIGHLY cautioned against this.
  • DO study a station to understand the types of news it covers, and tailor pitches, releases, and exclusive stories accordingly (PR, Media Relations 101).

Now, let’s move to some of the Newsroom current climate factors:

  • As we know, the way people consume news has changed drastically over the years. What may not be as common knowledge, is the way stations tailor stories depending on the channel. Rhonda noted that the same piece is different on every platform – aka the same story is formatted/packaged differently on the TV aired news vs. social media vs. the website, and on and on. For example, she indicated that they always add closed captions for Facebook videos because that is a good driver of traffic/engagement. Plus, she noted that mobile continues to be News’ biggest challenge.
  • Fake news… Kim noted that this is a huge challenge and that her station, WDIV, checks, and double checks everything they report, even government resources. She said, “I’d rather be last and right, than first and wrong.” Kevin noted that in one instance there was a fake, local story that was generated by an unknown source with fake quotes from Detroit officials – he got calls at WJBK and had to investigate before reporting, only to find out everything from the quote to the mug shot was fake. All this makes it tough for TV stations to do their job.
  • The future of TV News. Kim and Rhonda agreed that the future of news, in some shape or form, will have to do with viewer-generated video. Kevin added that content will continue to be king.

It’s safe to say PRSA Detroit and IABC Detroit learned a lot from this panel. Many thanks to Rhonda, Kevin & Kim for their time and insight.

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Images were taken/provided by Megan Peterson

Megan Peterson is a Digital Communication Strategist at Tweddle Group, a Detroit Economic Club Young Leader member, a national/Detroit chapter member of PRSA and a PR volunteer for The Lake House in St. Clair Shores.