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Are Satellite Media Tours Dead? Quite the Opposite — COVID Revived One of the Longest-Standing Methods of Delivering Feature News to Broadcast Outlets

As the president of DRIVEN360, a motorsports marketing agency, I’ve seen it all. In the world of public relations, advertising and marketing, trends come and go and the methods we, as professionals, communicate our messages to the masses evolves daily. Social media has become such a driving factor in how people get their news today, difficult questions frequently come up: Is broadcast news dead and what is the best way for me to get my news? Reading, as in print media, will always be a critical part of getting your news. With that said, it’s all digital these days, a virtual digital media landscape. Media coverage and media relations are changing. Whether it’s the Wall Street Journal or USA Today, media outlets like those are still reliable and great ways to get your news.

So, this leads into a discussion about the role of morning and evening local and national broadcast television news. Who will sit on top of this massive news empire? Online media platforms like, Facebook and LinkedIn are grabbing the news torch to engage their subscribers. All the while news Stations and media outlets are pumping out content every second of their show and much of it, frankly, is on local issues like crime, traffic, weather, politics, and narratives that are timely and based on real-time events. When the pandemic caused a national lockdown, news anchors had to set-up home studios, me included, as a transportation expert. But here is where things changed. Television field reporters were also part of the station lockdown and although some still ventured into the field for breaking news content and crisis communication, stations were, and are still looking for lifestyle-focused content. Commonly known as “evergreen news,” it is not hard-hitting news and can be run just about any time.

Satellite Media Tours

Years ago, before cable news and the 24-hour news cycle, morning news shows struggled to get live content from outside their area. They looked to broadcast companies with satellite trucks that hosted something called Satellite Media Tours or SMTs. These are the same satellite trucks that broadcast live sporting events and other major events. News stations with satellite capabilities themselves, started using them for live reporting of special news stories from experts in a specific field. Prior to COVID, most stations had their own reporters in the field covering all features and creating evergreen stories, which meant SMTs were rare occurrences and the art of hosting an SMT was nearing its end. Add in the costs of a satellite truck rental for a day and dedicated access to a satellite, it gets expensive.

Fast forward to COVID! Stations across the country are now in need of solid news content again and given all the grim news on COVID infections, sickness and climbing death rates, stations needed lighter news and sound bites to keep morale up and people interested in their shows. Enter, again, the SMT. Stations were happy and willing to jump on SMT programs because it gave them something fun for the news segment, something to inspire and excite those watching these broadcasts. Another phenomenon that popped up during the pandemic was that news outlets broadcasting in high definition had to lower their picture quality standards to conduct remote interviews. They were forced to use subpar connections simply to get the news up and running connecting to interviewees using services like Zoom, WebEx and Microsoft Teams. Those services took off and allowed people to use home internet connections to provide content but if satellite options are available, stations would immediately take them.

So, where do Satellite Media Tours stand today, why are they so important and now such a cost-effective format?

Satellite Media Tours come in all shapes and sizes. There are both in-studio SMTs and remote SMTs. Whether it’s a remote interview, public relations event, celebrity press junket to promote a new movie that is coming out (in-studio) or broadcasting live from an auto show (remote), this is fresh content stations love to help break up the regular daily news cycle. I have covered hundreds of automotive segments on live TV via satellite.

What’s great about today’s media tours is that technology has also evolved. Now, in-studio and remote SMTs can be done without the use of satellite trucks. Many news organizations now leverage a service called LiveU. This is an internet-based mobile link that is as small as a smartphone and uses multiple 5G wireless modems to push the video from the SMT location to a LIVEU control room that sends the signal to a satellite and then down to a station. It requires no satellite truck, less staff and is way more cost effective.

SMT’s are far from dead. The content needs to be genuine, newsworthy, optimizing key messages, organic and tie into the general theme of news show. DRIVEN360 makes strategic communication happen for its clients.

DRIVEN360 believes in the effectiveness of Satellite Media Tours, and we’ve used them with clients for years. We not only offer a complete, turnkey package, but we can also offer different levels of service including everything ranging from just pitching broadcast outlets, to a complete production. We are an integrated PR agency if there ever was one. We don’t just ‘talk to the media’ we’re part of the media. We have unrivaled media training with top-tier broadcast personalities and media spokespersons. We have done both big and small programs, and are always ready to elevate a client’s brand through a well-designed SMT, spokesperson training and brand amplification. With DRIVEN360 you leverage deep and wide brand and strategic communications expertise from decades of collective world-class results. Have a company spokesperson drop us a line at info@GoDRIVEN360.com for more information.

 

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