Case Study: A Time-Sensitive Education Story Provides Statewide TV Coverage

Case Study: A Time-Sensitive Education Story Provides Statewide TV Coverage

Successful public relations strategies rely on long-term planning and consistent, strategic efforts. However, PR professionals must be ready to spring into action and use their organizational skills for unexpected opportunities to publicize their clients. Here’s one example of how Veracity used a major local news story to position our client as an expert that could add value to the media’s ongoing coverage.


The Client: Oregon Charter Academy

Oregon Charter Academy (ORCA) is a tuition-free public online charter school serving Oregon children in grades K-12. ORCA has spent 17 years developing a cutting-edge, highly adaptable curriculum for an online environment that provides structure and guidance while allowing students to learn at their own pace. 


The Local Story: A COVID Surge Causes Temporary School Closures

In early January 2022, two Portland-area high schools announced they would temporarily return to distance learning because too many teachers had fallen ill due to the COVID-19 Omicron wave. Portland Public Schools announced on a Thursday that closures would begin the next day and continue throughout the following week. The news came as a surprise to many area parents. It also brought back unpleasant memories of the abrupt and challenging transition to distance learning in the first weeks of the pandemic nearly two years earlier. 

The school district’s announcement was a significant story in Portland’s print and TV media. As Veracity tracked the news, we realized that the closures would continue to be a story throughout the weekend and saw an opportunity for ORCA to contribute to the conversation by offering advice and expertise to impacted parents, students and educators. However, because time was limited, our team needed to act quickly.


The Strategy: Provide Expertise for Parents and Educators

Veracity’s goal in this effort was not to promote ORCA as a destination for students but rather to bolster its position as a leading voice in Oregon’s online education community. We immediately reached out to ORCA to establish a point-person for on-the-spot interviews and develop messaging for our media pitches. Allison Galvin, ORCA’s Executive Director, agreed to make herself available for interviews throughout the weekend.

Working collaboratively, ORCA and Veracity developed talking points around the state of online schooling in general and how parents could help their kids thrive in an online setting. Once we’d established interview availability and messaging, our team began pitching local news outlets. 

The Approach: Customized Pitches for Oregon’s Media Markets

Because this was a time-sensitive story, Veracity began pitching media outlets the day after the school district made its announcement, aiming to land coverage over the first weekend of the closure and throughout the following week. We initially targeted TV outlets in Oregon’s four major markets: Portland, Medford, Bend and Eugene. Our initial pitch offered an on-camera interview with ORCA’s executive director and included specific messaging for Portland and non-portland areas.

For Portland, our pitches focused on offering tips to make this transition a smoother experience than the previous switch to distance learning earlier in the pandemic. In areas outside of Portland where school districts hadn’t canceled in-person learning, our messaging centered around preparing for the possibility of a return to remote learning amid an ongoing COVID surge. 

Each email pitch referenced that outlet’s previous COVID-related school closure coverage whenever possible. Using chapter six of A Modern Guide to Public Relations as loose guidelines on pitching TV, our team followed up with a phone call immediately after sending the pitch email to offer the reporter a heads up about the opportunity. If we were unsuccessful in contacting the reporter on Friday, we followed up with another call on Saturday. 

The Results: Multiple Placements in Portland and Medford

Our customized pitching approach proved fruitful as several local TV stations in Portland, Medford and Bend agreed to on-camera interviews. Throughout the weekend, the Veracity team worked to facilitate interactions between the ORCA representative and reporters. By the end of the following week, ORCA had appeared online and in multiple TV segments on KOIN and KGW in Portland and KOBI and KTVL in Medford. 

As a result of these interviews, ORCA raised its profile with parents throughout the state while demonstrating its expertise in the area of distance learning.


Cooperation Delivered Outstanding Results

While consistent and focused work will always move the PR needle, sometimes capturing the synergy of a specific moment can give your efforts a substantial boost. Veracity was successful in this example because we’ve established a disciplined method for media outreach honed over years of experience. Those tactics helped us connect our clients with the local media by offering a succinct and relevant pitch that we customized for each recipient. We then followed through with support throughout the weekend, reinforcing our position as a trusted media partner.

Of course, none of this would have been possible without a client who recognized the magnitude of the opportunity, adjusted their schedule to meet the reporters’ needs and possessed the knowledge to elevate the media’s conversation. In the end, PR professionals, education experts and media members cooperated in providing valuable information to local parents, students and educators at a moment when they needed it most. You can’t ask for a better result.


Pitching TV Coverage Via Satellite with Doug Simon [Podcast]

Pitching TV Coverage Via Satellite with Doug Simon [Podcast]

In this episode of the PR Talk Podcast, host Amy Rosenberg speaks with Doug Simon, CEO of D S Simon Media, an influencer marketing firm in New York that specializes in helping clients obtain valuable coverage on TV news for 35 years.

During their conversation, Amy and Doug discuss the mechanics of satellite media tours and how they’ve become even more effective as the pandemic has limited in-person interviews. Doug also shares a few tips for PR professionals interested in offering their own video press release services.

What Happened to Video News Releases?

D S Simon Media first made its name producing video news releases, which were essentially pre-packaged stories TV stations would run without editing. As Doug explains it, this practice became very controversial in the early 2000s for political reasons. As a result, TV news became reticent about using video produced outside the station. D S Simon Media had already developed satellite media tours to connect with local TV and now uses it as their primary method of media outreach.


Satellite Video Tours are Efficient & Effective

Every PR pro knows that TV coverage gets harder to obtain with each passing year. That’s what makes D S Simon Media’s approach to pitching TV so interesting. When a client reaches out for help, Doug first determines whether their story is interesting and if they have a spokesperson available for interviews. Then, Doug’s in-house booking team reaches out to TV stations with a crafted, client-approved pitch along with the tour date and available five or 10-minute interview slots.

Over five hours, Doug’s team can facilitate 25-30 remote interviews. Media members are free to ask whatever questions they want. However, as part of the process, D S Simon Media provides stations with a confirmation document containing a suggested lead-in and questions. Because tv reporters are so often pressed for time, and because the confirmation documents are prepared in a way that flows and makes sense, Doug says that 85-90% of reporters will ask the provided questions.

During the interview, the TV station producers connect with a D S Simon producer who can suggest and run related b-roll footage. A D S Simon media advisor also participates in every satellite video tour to communicate with reporters and provide feedback to the client in-between interviews.


COVID Made Satellite Tours Even More Valuable

Like many people, Doug was concerned about how his business would survive during the pandemic. The Monday after the NBA’s shutdown announcement in March 2020, David brought a team of engineers to rebuild his studio to accommodate remote video interviews. 

This move was critical. During the pandemic, nobody was going into stations for interviews. To make matters worse, connecting to TV stations from a studio with an in-person crew wasn’t safe either. Instead, Doug’s team used Zoom to connect their clients directly with TV stations for all their interviews. Doug believes this increased the authenticity of the interviews and allowed his team to access higher-level people because they didn’t have to go anywhere to get on TV.


Doug’s Tips for Using Video Effectively

Of course, Amy couldn’t resist asking Doug for a few tips on using video effectively. He reminded listeners that they’re telling a story. So ask yourself, am I delivering something I can pitch effectively, and will it provide value to my client when it’s on the air? Also, you’ll likely have more than three minutes for your video, which means you can send more than one message. So, try framing your story around the problem-solution format. Doug also recommends using an internal spokesperson whenever possible because that will make your stories more authentic.

There’s More from Doug Simon

Amy and Doug covered so much more during their conversation, including co-op media tours, how his firm can guarantee TV coverage and why he thinks every PR pro must have their own professional equipment for interviews, so make sure to tune in to the entire episode. 

While you’re at it, don’t forget to subscribe, rate and review the PR Talk podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio and Spotify.

About the guest: Doug Simon

Doug Simon is the CEO of D S Simon Media, an award-winning Influencer Marketing firm that creates and distributes video to help turn an organization’s experts into influencers. Doug has appeared on CNN, Fox News Channel, Fox Business, NPR, PBS and Reuters regarding topical communications and marketing news. He has also provided commentary for The Huffington Post and USA Today. You can connect with Doug at [email protected].

Connect and follow Doug on social media:

Doug Simon on PR Talk

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

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