Now that you know about LNS, below are best practices and tips for working with an LNS outfit.
If your client is holding or sponsoring an event (ribbon cutting, award ceremony, sporting event and the like… not a detailed or in-depth story) that you would like have covered, LNS should be your first call. There are a couple of keys in pitching an LNS outfit.
Paint your event with the broadest strokes. As always with television immediately create an image of what your event is going to look like. For instance: “Picture Governor Patrick, Mayor Smith and business leaders standing on the steps of a beautiful new 23 million dollar facility with dozens of the 250 people the business will employ looking on as a giant red ribbon is cut by Senator Kennedy…”. Remember that LNS and television as a whole is a business of pictures before story content!
Use LNS’ youth to your advantage. Most LNS outfits want to also become the go-to bank for B-roll (generic video that runs as a reporter/anchor voices a story), but that’s hard to do when you’ve been around for a year and a half or less. There may be value in some of the generic images from your event like the governor shaking hands with business leaders, video of office space (with or without workers), crowd shots, etc. Make sure that if you think that there is a chance that your event will contain good generic B-roll that you tell the assignment editor.
To that end also use industry terms that will help an LNS assignment editor relate to you and the event. Even though LNS is giving stations more bang for their buck, there is still a great deal of pressure for them to gather as much usable video in a day as possible. If you know that your event isn’t going to lead a newscast, but might make for a nice segment before the end of the show, use phrases like: “This is the perfect Spray ‘n Run event” or “I’ve got a story every station will want in their D block.”
Spray ‘n Run is where a photographer gets to your event (sometimes minutes or seconds prior), shoots video of the ribbon cutting and hand shaking, maybe conducts a quick interview with the featured speaker and in a matter of a few minutes they are gone with a press release about the event in-hand. Using terms like Spray ‘n Run lets the assignment editor know that you understand their time limitations and where your story will fit in a newscast. Using this kind of lingo will increase the likelihood that your event gets into the mix of daily assignment for LNS photographers.
D Block is traditionally the segment of time towards the end of a newscast where interesting, but not pressing news stories are aired. As much as you and/or your client may think that your event should run as the top story, that rarely is realistic. On a day when the news cycle is slow, every station needs D Block material and they’ll most likely turn to LNS to fill it.
Backdoor to LNS
If you call your local CBS station and the assignment editor says that they probably won’t be able to make it to your event, ask them if it would make a good LNS segment and if they would pass the press release or advisory to the LNS assignment editor. This is good for two reasons. First, assignment editors may come across as short or even rude sometimes, but really they are helpers and enablers by nature. Making the LNS suggestion gives them a person to pass the buck to without looking like the bad guy. The second reason is that a release or advisory sent to LNS from a member station carries much more weight than one from a PR flack and they are more likely to put your event higher in their to-do list.
LNS has its own problems for PR professionals
There are a few downsides to LNS for a PR professional. If an LNS photographer shows up to your event it could mean that the story will run on 4 stations or it may not run on any and there is no way (right now) that the LNS assignment editor can tell you one way or the other. You see, while LNS creates a friendly agreement between competing stations, story placement in a news cast is sacred and there isn’t a chance that the local CBS affiliate is going to tip their hat to LNS who might tell the local Fox affiliate about their story line-up. You might get a probability that it will run, but as of now it is a roll of the dice and you will have to monitor every LNS member station in that market.
If you are looking for the flash or sizzle of a big, logoed television van or truck showing up at your event with a reporter waving a microphone flag and interviewing numerous people, LNS is not for you. They will likely show up in an unmarked or LNS logoed vehicle that is small and non-descript. There will not be a reporter accompanying the photographer (there might be a producer or intern on rare occasions) and while the cameraman may interview a person or two, they won’t be waving around a microphone flag with a logo that people in the crowd will recognize.