SMT Reinvention in the “Opt-in” Age of Content

Satellite Media Tours, or SMTs, have been a key component in PR agencies’ toolboxes for thirty-plus years. For twenty of those years, SMTs were straightforward: your spokesperson is in front of the camera talking to local morning news anchors in dozens of back-to-back interviews. Effective and efficient. PR pros could get their message in front of millions as they got their morning news before heading out to work.

While the tactic is still incredibly popular (and our company’s bread and butter), the most successful tours embrace and cater to the radical shifts in the media landscape. This shift has allowed us to turn the tried-and-true SMT on its ear and actively engage an audience that will ‘opt-in’ and view the content on their TV, computer, phone, radio, etc. Current “SMTs” may not look exactly like they used to, but the modern, reimagined version will allow you to reach large yet targeted audiences far better than before.

Here are the top three things you should know about reimagined SMTs and how to customize the tactic to create your ideal media plan.

SHIFT 1: Beyond Morning TV

According to a Pew Research Survey, 86% of Americans say they get their news from online sources. Neilson reports slightly more people now get their television content from streaming over cable, and their data shows over 80.5 million (97% of the Gen X population) tune into AM/FM radio during an average month. Infinite Dial reports a 57% increase in podcast listenership.

What does all this mean? It means your SMT is a perfect opportunity to encompass all media types. Start your SMT planning by asking, “what media will make this project a win?” Is it a mixture of TV and Radio? Do you have a specific demo that would be better reached with a combination of online niche media and podcasts? Are only certain markets a win?

With clear media goals identified, your SMT vendor can customize a tour that will work specifically for your needs (and take a lot of leg work off your team.)

SHIFT 2: Media Catering

The media have endless stories to choose from, so we must remove any obstacles that might prevent them from exploring our story while making the process as easy for them as possible. Basics of any good SMT include supplying the media with background on the story, compelling supporting b-roll to bring the topic to life, adhering to the unspoken SMT agreement that we will deliver a solid interview with relevant information, and that the interview will not become a self-serving, product-mention-heavy pseudo ad.

Beyond ensuring the ‘meat’ of the interview is solid, we must also cater to the outlet’s tech side. Do they want their interview conducted/delivered via satellite uplink, Zoom, Skype, Streamyard, phone, downloadable link, junket-style face-to-face, or are they only interested in us bringing the spokesperson to their studio? Are they unavailable during the tour but are interested in a later date/time?

Preparation and flexibility can take your tour from the solid category to wow!

SHIFT 3: Opportunities to Expand Coverage

While interviews are still the basis of most media tours, now more than ever, there is an opportunity to take content from your SMT and drill down into your ideal demographic with secured media. Capture content during the tour and create segments to air in ANY market of your choice on traditional cable/satellite TV, on streaming platforms, on social media, or via video matte placements.

Determine what is most important for the success of your project – do you need hundreds of millions of impressions, or is success getting content in front of your client’s ideal consumer? Success looks different to every client, so the more precise you can be regarding your goals at the onset of the project, the better we can recommend tactics.

SMTs have evolved. Customization and flexibility are vital to landing your message in front of a meaningful audience. Media targeting, catering to media needs, and incorporating both earned and paid elements are the keys to success.

If you are thinking about a media tour and want to explore how to get the most out of it, give us a call!