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Evolution of Local Broadcast News Stations in San Francisco

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The San Francisco (PAN West) office recently visited KGO-TV, otherwise known as ABC7 Bay Area News, and had the opportunity to get an in-depth look at how local newsrooms operate today. To report our learnings from the visit, we have highlighted some takeaways to apply across earned, social and paid media opportunities when engaging with local broadcast stations.


At the station, there were two assignment desk personnel reviewing pitches and general news tips who worked closely with the assignment desk editor. We learned that KGO-TV holds several editorial meetings throughout the day – early morning (e.g. 5 a.m.), late morning (e.g. 9 a.m.), early afternoon (e.g. 1 p.m.), midafternoon (e.g. 5 p.m.) and evening (e.g. 9 p.m.). These meetings dictate what stories will be reported in the upcoming news hour.

Source: used under CC license.

As many know, broadcast stations are unique, especially in the way you pitch because visual content plays such a key part. Specifically, for KGO-TV, they have about six vans that can travel to different sites to shoot stories simultaneously. Since Bay Area news stations cover nine counties, getting a news team to come out and cover your event or activity is slim. One trick I always found to be helpful is to pitch with the visual content at hand, so it lessens the work for producers to get your story featured.

KGO-TV conducts executive and spokesperson interviews in-studio, but it is now a paid opportunity, unlike in the past when it was earned.

Proliferation of Social Media

Since I started PR just about five years ago, newsrooms have evolved to integrate social media as an instrumental source for content and channel to disseminate news. Nowadays, you can tweet or tag a newsroom and have them review your content in real-time. When we walked into KGO-TV’s assignment desk area, there were crew members monitoring for relevant and interesting footage.

While we as PR professionals we might formally pitch the news desks, experimenting with social media to get the attention of a producer might be worth a try.

Paid Media

Many of us have a duty to obtain earned media but on this visit, we found the value of paid media and that it has the potential to bring us more value than we’ve previously imagined.

We met with the station’s head of sales who explained that KGO-TV offers a placement in its local programming or news hour for an average of $5,000. With this package, clients get raw and edited video footage that they can use at their disposal, the opportunity to work with producers to help strengthen storytelling, and additional coverage on the station’s website and social media.

Typically, video production and editing are very costly. However, knowing that for just $5,000 a client can have clips of executive interviews and relevant content – it’s quite the deal. The client gets content and secured broadcast placement (double-win!).

This visit reminded me that while many of us secure earned media through traditional pitching, there are creative ways to get clients featured through social media and paid opportunities as news stations are evolving. As media brokers, we need to be savvy now more than ever to land a successful story by getting out of our comfort zones and continuing to keep a pulse on journalism overall, not just PR.

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