Inside look at ABC Action News

Inside look at ABC Action News

B2 Communications account coordinators and interns, along with University of South Florida public relations students, got a behind-the-scenes tour of ABC Action News' station and gained valuable insight from reporters, producers and assignment editors who often receive media pitches.

B2 senior account executive Laura Fontanills, APR set up the media tour as part of her volunteer role as a liaison between PRSA Tampa Bay and USF PRSSA.

The budding PR professionals had the opportunity to sit in during the planning editors’ and producers’ afternoon meeting, where they review story ideas and decide which stories will be covered during the evening newscast. ABC Action News planning editor Vicky Benchimol give 10 tips for public relations professionals when dealing with a TV newsroom, emphasizing the dos and don’ts when sending press releases.

Some of her tips for public relations practitioners include:

- Send all pitches to the news desk. Even if you have a relationship with a specific reporter, they don’t make the assignments; so get to know the desk editors.

- Know what gets the news desk’s attention. New trends, groundbreaking news, safety, first in the area, community impact, human interest or overcoming obstacles are the stories newsrooms want to know.

- Start with one station. Stories are more valuable if their station is the first to receive the pitch.

After taking a station tour, the group was able to sit on set and watch “The Now Tampa Bay,” ABC’s 4 p.m. newscast. Anchors Ashley Glass and Laura Harris were friendly and tweeted about the visit.

In the control room, the group went further behind the scenes as they saw how show cues were given and how commercial and camera transitions are handled.

The students and young professionals now have a better understanding of how a newsroom works and the best way to communicate with journalists and producers.