Even with the advent of streaming media for handheld devices, podcasts, Artificial Intelligence, and subscription services, television remains a key content driver. As a former network news producer with eight years’ experience in this rough-and-tumble fast-moving business, let me take you inside a working newsroom and show you how it all comes together, and how an established PR professional can help raise your profile and save your hide when things unexpectedly fall apart.
From my experience at a number of networks, I have countless contacts. Knowing the Executive Producers (EP) and Booking Producers to all the high-profile shows means I can provide access, exposure and make important introductions. There are days I bring clients around to different studios to meet with staff, which has proven to be very effective getting them on air. These relationships are also extremely important when a client is facing a PR crisis and needs to have his/her message heard, and fast. Keep in mind, many TV producers I came up with now work in new media, so even in this changing world order, the same rules apply: It’s all who you know.
Every show and network are different, but there are commonalities across the board. To start, at the top is the EP, who works in tandem with the show’s Anchor setting the editorial tone for every broadcast. A typical show is made up of six segments, organized as the A-F Blocks, covering the day’s events as well lighthearted features such as celebrity interviews, book reviews and yes, sometimes even a discussion about whether UFO’s really exist.
As you can guess, the hard news, the impactful day-of-stories, are at the top of the hour and usually make up the first 40 minutes of the show, while feature pieces make up the back half. Story placement and figuring out the lead (A Block) is made in a number of staff editorial meeting throughout the day. Because news changes on a dime, there’s a constant reshuffling of stories and their order until the broadcast goes to air.
It should be understood, there are times when news breaks just before the start of a show. When this happens, the rundown goes out the window, and the Anchor and control room switch gears and report the new news. However, everything you see on TV is first vetted and confirmed by the network before going to air to ensure all the information is accurate. During breaking news, the show’s booking producers are scrambling during the live broadcast to find guests; whether it’s an eyewitness, victim or expert on the topic.
Underneath the EP are a few senior producers who help execute the show’s rundown after the editorial meetings. There’s also a Line Producer who makes sure the show’s rundown is put together and everything runs on time.
On any given staff, there are anywhere from four-to-six segment producers. These are the folks that actually write the segments and often pre-interview the guests. To be clear, guests aren’t given the exact questions before they go on air. The pre-interview process is to outline the topic and get the key points the guest wants to focus on during the discussion. This is important so the segment producer can pull all relevant video and graphics to make the segment come alive. TV is a visual medium, after all, and having a discussion without these elements would make it fall flat. The Senior Producers work closely with the Segment Producers and Associate Producers, and copy edit scripts and make sure video and graphics packages match the discussion. It’s very important the video that’s chosen is edited carefully because pictures can be misleading if they don’t match the words or conversation at hand.
The people that find the guests for every show are the booking producers. In many ways, they’re the most important people on staff because without the guests, there’s very little show. If there are six blocks of live content, each show will have upwards of at least 12 guests. Most of them are found day-of, but some interviews are booked in advance.
The rest of a show’s staff is made up Production Assistants, the Anchor Producer as well as the in-studio crew (the folks that mic you) and the control room staff (the folks who make sure all the remote shots are up, all the video and graphics are rolled, etc.) as well as Hair and Makeup. The EP and Line Producer are usually in the Anchor’s ear throughout the show communicating about any breaking news, the next segment, whether a segment is running too long, and the like).
TV news is exciting, non-stop and an effective way to raise your company’s profile. Pace Public Relations has a proven track record of success and can help get you in the door.