This picture is from a news conference in which a police department announced an arrest in a murder investigation. The room included some reporters but what stood out were the photographers without reporters.
Weeks later, while covering a stranger danger incident, you could see a TV photographer on a sidewalk trying to interview students by himself. No reporter.
PR pros should grow accustomed to working with reporter-less photographers. It’s a growing trend. Some local TV stations even share photographers and their video as part of an effort called LNS, Local News Share.
When the crew heading to a story is a crew of one, I think there are opportunites for communicators. Consider some reporters don’t like much direction from marketers. And some marketers don’t appreciate reporters who don’t focus on key talking points. With reporters out of the mix more often, PR pros may have more space to get their vision of the story across on TV, in print or on the web. Journalists might cringe at this notion, but consider when TV photographers are carrying typical gear (camera, tripod & lights), they’re hauling about 70 pounds. Now imagine dragging around that 70 pounds in inhospitable places such as Arizona’s heat. Those photographers have enough going on. They just might welcome some suggestions on what questions to ask and what shots to get.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying photographers are pushovers. Some are extremely aggressive and stubborn. But on the whole, they might be more receptive to your ideas as long as you don’t treat them like children or with any less importance than you would treat reporters. My husband has listened to many newsroom conversations among reporters about PR pros. And no matter how much you think you help reporters, many of them find communicators annoying and in the way. Photographers might be willing to play along a little more.
For PR pros, this might be a blessing in disguise. At least on TV, stories are only as good as the video. Maybe it’s about time more communicators buddy up to those holding the cameras not the pens. Give it a try. The next time you work with a crew minus one, try some new ideas out. See if you get further. If you offer to hold the photographer’s tripod or microphone, that would be a good first step.