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By Wallis Shamieh, PR and Integrated Media Assistant

Whether or not we’d like to admit it, we, as Americans, love watching TV. Whether you are a network news connoisseur, a nighttime television junkie, shopping channel addict, or a crime scene series enthusiast, we all watch TV.

On average, Americans watch just under 3 hours of television a day, and retirees watch even more. When a large portion of your target market is watching television for 4 or 5 hours a day, television news stations become a strong and highly desired outlet for your PR team to reach.

But in order to get the attention of seniors via television, you’ll have to get the attention of news stations first. What type of stories grab television news’ attention? Usually, it’s positive, energetic stories with a significant visual aspect. The camera crews will come by the flocks if you have something colorful, exciting, or emotional to see. Here are a few examples of the kinds of pitches that can get your local TV stations to come highlight your community:

Invite the Media to an Unusual Event

Hosting unusual events that offer unique visual elements is one way to get TV attention. Some communities have employed events that include things like hot air balloons with the camera crews having a chance to go up in the balloon, messages in bottles which are then ceremoniously released in the community pond or lake, time capsules, paper lanterns, seasonal and cultural events (e.g., Christmas lights), and other visually stimulating elements.

Tie-in with National News

Local television news networks often love to pick up native tie-ins to popular national stories. If there’s a little-known but fun national holiday, plan something visually stimulating to tie in with the theme. For example, have your residents visit a local elementary school to read to young children on Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Have residents and staff deliver delicious desserts to local fire and police stations for National Pie Day.

Make the Emotional, Relatable Pitch

Another good way to appeal to TV’s audience (and therefore, television media) is to pitch something with a strong emotional appeal. Has a resident recently accomplished a major achievement? Perhaps they’ve completed a great physical feat, or published their first novel. Maybe they’ve been asked to speak at a special event, or they’ve organized an event on campus. Feel-good stories like this tend to make great pitches and result in positive media attention.

Keep it in the Present & Future Tense

The key thing to remember when pitching your community news stories to television stations, is how important it is to show your community and residents in a true light that emphasizes the active lives residents are living today. For example, stories about residents who volunteer, have a unique hobby, or have become local leaders will not only bring media attention, but will also showcase your community and the residents in a positive light. Highlighting thing such as half-century old service awards, or anniversaries of great accomplishments can actually reinforce the stereotype of retirement communities being filled with people who are no longer active, who focus solely on the past. Perhaps the most common example of a “good” story that reinforces your retirement community as a “nursing” home filled with only the very oldest, is the story that celebrates a resident’s 100th birthday. While exciting, it doesn’t necessarily reflect vital living at your community.

Remember – while getting television media attention is important, it’s more important to make sure you’re getting the kind of positive PR you want. Stories should present your organization as a vibrant place that gives seniors the platform to accomplish their goals and interests well into retirement. You want to portray your residents as active “doers” who are still heavily engaged with life. Focus on pitching stories about fun events, local tie-ins to national news, or stories that have a strong emotional reaction, and most importantly, stories that celebrate the current achievement of residents – watch as the television news outlets line up to cover your community!

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