Friday, February 1, 2013

It's "no official sound bite February"

Okay, I've had it.

With sound bites from officials.

Last year I was traveling and I flipped on the hotel TV to check out the local talent. Some reporter was doing a piece on a job fair. Hundreds of people had turned out. A long line out the door. And the reporter interviewed:

-the person running the job fair
-someone from the labor department

Was there a single sound bite from someone looking for a job? Nah, there were only a few hundred of those people. Why talk to them?

This isn't anything new. I see this from people in all markets, big and small. Anchor reads intro, story sounds interesting. Package runs, filled with sound bites from officials. Not one real person.

You know, if aliens landed and started watching local news, they would assume every single person on the planet worked for the government.

If you're one of those people who has a habit of going to the official, here's all you need to do. Ask yourself one simple question:

"Who does this story affect?"

Answer that question and you'll have a better story.

You can get your info from the official, but your piece should focus on real people. The average guy. Joe and Mabel Sixpack. Bill Lunchbucket. Jane the working mom.

Most officials, especially politicians, will tell you what you want to hear because it's their job, or, in the case of politicians, it will help them keep their jobs. Take the info they give you and find someone affected by it. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes you have to dig.

But trust me, your stories will be a lot more interesting.

And if that doesn't get you to change, consider this: resume tapes loaded with official sound bites don't stand out.

Okay, it's sweeps. Good time to make a change. By March, you'll be amazed at how much your stories have improved.


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