THE MEDIA AND PUBLIC RELATIONS. NOTES 3.

BUT WE ARE THE PUBLIC RELATIONS TEAM ... WE CONTROL WHAT HAPPENS.


We now have a new way of making TV. May reporters have become a one man broadcasting company. Over the last few years they have learned to film and learned to edit. And more often than not, they now work alone. And when they’ve cut the story, they drive to the nearest wifi broadband hotspot and hit the send button. Or just send it through a 3G mobile phone from the back seat of the car. No longer do they sit in a darkened room with a technician and a bank of tv monitors while he twiddles the controls. A few hundred quid for some fancy software, and away you go.















They often use a Sony Z1 or Z7. It’s now issued as standard kit to hundreds of reporters and correspondents. If they get into your business with one of these, will you notice? You might not know the reporter is there, because it’s not so very far removed from a domestic video camera.


Take a look at the range of Sony cameras. The smallest camera to shoot widescreen onto DVCam tape. The sound isn’t much good but the pictures are excellent. If a researcher turns up at a union meeting in your staff canteen using this, you really don’t know she is there. The first you’ll know of it is when the expose of your dodgy dealings appears on air.


Think what that does to the costs and flexibility of a news broadcaster; think how much closer to the action we can get. Think how many cameras we can deploy on a big story.


And of course, there is the most common type of camera of all. Everybody has one. An ordinary £60 mobile phone. This makes every person in the country, a potential tv reporter.


We call it “citizen journalism” or user generated content, where the pictures come from the viewers themselves. And it is undoubtedly the biggest development in television journalism in decades.


The July 2005 bombings in London were the first real example of this. Passengers on the underground took both video and stills on the mobile phones, and sent them to the BBC. Several minutes before the police had worked out what was going on, we were already receiving the evidence, ready to transmit.


When the Buncefield oil depot at Hemel Hempstead caught fire a few months later, the BBC was offered 20,000 images in the first four hours. Individuals with cameras went much closer to the fire than BBC camera crews were prepared to risk. They went inside the security cordon, then offered the images for sale. 


Think back to the terrorist attack on Glasgow Airport at the start of the year. A man drove his car into the departures building. He then sat in the car, his body covered in flames. And all around him passengers got out their phones and pressed the record button. Then they emailed the pictures to news organisations. We had them in seconds.


Now think of the Greyrigg train crash in Cumbria last year. A Virgin train came off the tracks and rolled down an embankment. A BBC executive happened to be on board. So she got out her camera and took pictures from inside the wreckage. The moment she got out, she pressed the send button. The BBC had the images even before the emergency services got there.


All of this raises a whole range of issues we haven’t had to deal with before. Issues about taste, issues about trustworthiness and truthfulness, issues about simply handling the huge volume of material that will now flood into our inbox when a big story breaks.


If you’re dealing with a big incident, you can be sure the media will have pictures of it, whether you like it or not. And if we choose not to use them for reasons of decency or if we hold on to them while we check the facts, you can be sure that some other broadcasters and countless websites will just get the material out as fast as they can. How much does it matter to you if your dirty washing is aired on YouTube?

MARKETING YOUR BUSINESS TO ATTRACT MEDIA ATTENTION, AND TO GET THE RIGHT KIND OF PUBLICITY IS NO EASY TASK WHEN DEALING WITH THE MEDIA.


THESE NOTES AND ARTICLES HAVE BEEN WRITTEN TO HELP AND INFORM PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICIALS. WE DEAL WITH ALL KINDS OF PR PEOPLE FROM THE VERY GOOD TO THE DOWNRIGHT AWFUL.


IF YOU ARE A SEASONED PUBLIC RELATIONS EXPERT OR A PR NEWBIE FRESH FROM UNIVERSITY, THEN THESE PAGES MAY HELP YOU WHEN DEALING WITH THE LIKES OF ME ......

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