What is a Satellite Media Tour? How have SMTs Evolved in the Digital Age?
A satellite media tour (SMT) is a broadcast PR tactic utilized by public relations agencies, corporate communications departments and non-profit organizations to efficiently share key messages through a series of back-to-back interviews within a given time window in a single morning or day. SMTs typically originate from a studio in a major US city, but a satellite truck can broadcast from most remote locations such as a private residence, a golf course or Grand Central Station. This type of remote location adds a unique element to the interview and is received well by the media.
From the early 1990’s to the early 2010’s, it was common for an SMT to book nearly 30 earned back-to-back TV interviews is a single morning. Regulations, the emergence of digital media and the embracing of the PESO (Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned) model dramatically changed the standard for a successful SMT in the mid-2010’s. Many satellite media tour companies (public and private) failed to adapt to the new media landscape and went out of business.
Today, PR agencies and brands continue to effectively use media tours as part of their comprehensive program or strategy, but a complete execution now includes TV, radio and online interviews – which can come in the form of social media streams (like Facebook Live), influencers/bloggers and high level outlets including Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, People and more. Paid media integrations are available in target markets where earned media interviews are not obtainable. This will allow you to maximize outreach for the brand and efficiently use your spokesperson’s valuable time.
The SMT Lifecycle
When evaluating satellite media tour companies to partner with, it’s crucial they include all media platforms listed above, making the SMT more of an Integrated Media Tour. At the onset of a project, it’s best to get your vendor in on the planning stage as early as possible to tap into their expertise and experience, and to make time-saving suggestions. This is the perfect time to ask about incorporating a market research survey to bolster your SMT topic. While four to five weeks out is ideal, executing a tour can be done with less lead time, but allowing as much time as possible will ensure the best outcome for your initiative. Once you’ve decided on a vendor, start with a kick-off call with everyone involved. This will make sure all are up to speed with the client’s messaging and goals. From there, the vendor will draft media materials and when they are approved, the media pitching and booking begins. Booking updates are issued daily or weekly until the day of the tour.
In addition to media training your spokesperson and making sure they are comfortable with messaging and key talking points, other items to consider are set design, props, food stylists, etc. This will vary depending on the subject matter and whether it is an in-studio tour or remote. Your vendor will be able to provide you with sample set designs to help create the look that best suits your client’s style and overall theme.
Satellite Media Tour Terms to Know