Satellite Media Tours
Satellite Media Tours (SMTs) are where a PR company organises a series of one-on-one interviews with television reporters.
Medialink described SMT's in its 2005 Annual Report as commonly comprising "Satellite media tours consist of a sequence of one-on-one satellite interviews with a series of pre-booked television reporters across the country or around the world. Satellite media tours typically involve an interview with an author, performer, executive or other spokesperson promoting an upcoming event, product, movie or book release." (Pdf). In its 2003 Annual Report it stated that "SMTs generally are conducted from a studio but can originate from remote locations and may be aired live by the television station or recorded for a later airing."
The format of one on one interviews is commonly preferred within the PR industry as an alternative to a media conference. The radio equivalent of SMT's are referred to as Radio Media Tours (RMT's).
Gourvitz Communications, a New York city VNR producer, stated on its website in 2006 that a "three hour, two camera satellite press tour produced in a studio will cost between $22,000 - $25,000 depending on the length of the tour, and a remote tour produced using a satellite uplink truck will cost around $38,000." 
As with video news releases, PR companies involved in organising SMT's for the clients have no common standards for disclosing the sponsors to television stations. In an interview with PR Week, Richard Murry from The Treister Murry Agency explained that there was no need to disclose the exact relationship between a company and someone who would be interviewed on SMT. "Contractual details regarding the relationship between the client and spokesperson need not be revealed," he told PR Week , "as it's clearly implied that the spokesperson is receiving some sort of remuneration for his or her time." 
The president of News Broadcast Network, Michael J. Hill, told PR Week that sponsors should be disclosed to stations. "Companies like ours are obligated to inform these outlets who is paying for the tour," he said. 
The director of media relations at MultiVu, Beverley Yehuda, told PR Week that there are benefits is disclosing to TV station producers who is sponsoring a SMT. "Stations are all very much aware that SMTs are sponsored by somebody, and they appreciate knowing who it is and that way we're allowed to get our mentions in," she said. 
But while they PR companies may inform the news station producers, they view disclosure to viewers as a matter for the stations themselves.
"Using someone that goes too product-heavy or tries to get too many mentions into a segment will turn off a station from the outset, and you'll get your interview cut short. ... Future bookings are always going to be compromised because of that, and the spokesperson will be blacklisted," Yehuda said. 
Part of the art of a SMT is in not making the 'interview' appear too much like a commercial. The Vice President of media relations at Medialink Worldwide, Lidj Lewis, told PR Week that "TV interviews only last a couple of minutes, so multiple mentions of a product or service will only make your message sound overly commercial and anger the show's producer, which may make it difficult to schedule interviews in the future." 
PR Week offered some "technique tips" for readers. Key points it suggested were to search for "an outside, third-party spokesperson" and "be up front about who's sponsoring the SMT." But while PR companies should disclosure funding sources to the station PR Week emphasised that little should be left to chance in ensuring the SMT serves the interests of the client. "Don't underestimate the importance of media training" they suggested but that the spokesperson shouldn't "overpromote the client during the interview." They should, however, have some enthusiasm for the client's product. "Don't arbitrarily pick a spokesperson with no ties to a product," PR Week cautioned. 
Satellite Media Tour Producers
The January 2007 issue of O'Dwyer's PR Report lists the following firms as offering SMT services:
- Auritt Communications Group
- Caplan Communications
- D S Simon Productions
- DWJ Television - Ridgewood, NJ
- DWJ TV - Marina del Rey, CA
- Direct Media Services
- Gourvitz Communications
- J-NEX Media
- McLaughlin & Associates
- Medialink Worldwide
- MH3/Mark Haefeli Productions
- Metro Editorial Services
- News Broadcast Network
- Nextpert News Network
- Planned Television Arts
- PLUS Media
- RCM Broadcast Communications
- The Test Kitchen
- Vision Quest Productions
Other firms offering SMT services include:
- Pittsburgh International Telecommunications
- Pittsburgh Videotech Center
- Strauss Radio Strategies, Inc.
- The Treister Murry Agency
Many of the PR firms offering SMTs also produce video news releases and audio news releases, as additional means of distributing a client's message.
Articles and resources
- Erica Iacono, "SMTs and interaction with journalists", PR Week, September 16, 2005. (Sub req'd)
- Christie Casalino, "Gaining exposure with proper disclosure", PR Week, October 3, 2005. (Sub req'd) (This is an article on Satellite Media Tours).