Television Publicity | Jo'an Papadopoulos - Head of Publicity, SBS

Learn how to set yourself apart as a candidate for a role in television publicity from one of Australia's most experienced television publicity professionals


From studying a non-communications degree to becoming Head of Publicity at two of Australia's five public and commercial broadcasters, Jo'an Papadopoulos is one of the country's most experienced television publicity professionals. In this sector specialist episode, Jo provides an outline of what skills, experience and attributes she looks for when hiring television publicity roles. She also addresses the value of tenacity in any PR role, the roles and responsibilities of a television publicist, what the fun perks of the industry are, as well as the more challenging elements.


Work hard at building industry advocates for yourself. Build trust and respect with the people you deal with, and they will be far more likely to do you favours as well as keep you in mind for opportunities and roles."

Listen to the full episode on The PR Pod podcast for more about working in television publicity. You'll also find this episode on your fave podcast players, just search "The PR Pod".



WHAT IS A TELEVISION PUBLICIST RESPONSIBLE FOR?

  • You manage the strategy and execution of the communications strategy for a television program. You are likely to be managing multiple programs at one time and are usually planning at least three months in advance of a program launching.

  • A large component of your strategy stems around the launch of that program into the market, and the coverage/hype you can create around it to drive viewer interest. You also are responsible for maintaining media interest throughout the run of the show.

  • You utilise the 'assets' you have available to you, such as the program/episode storylines, imagery and access to interviews with the talent (such as cast/host/contestants of that show) to help publicise the show.

  • If the program is made locally, you could be coordinating the photo shoot to create the imagery assets you'll use to promote the program across all marketing channels.

  • Depending on the budget/status of the show you may organise a launch event/screening.

  • You will create the press kit materials for media which includes a press release and episode synopsis/descriptions.

  • You are responsible for securing long and short-term media coverage opportunities in print, newspaper, broadcast and online. This can include episode reviews and talent profile pieces to quick Q&As, broader feature spreads like at-homes and magazine covers.

  • Briefing talent in advance of interviews, photo shoots and events to ensure they're comfortable with what's expected of them.

  • Stakeholder relationship management to ensure those associated with the program are kept in the loop with relevant publicity information. This could include other internal departments such as programming, as well as external stakeholders such as production companies (who have produced/made the show for that network), unit publicists, talent managers and agents.

  • Crafting the messaging for the show and navigating any challenging touch-points, issues or themes with internal departments such as legal, to minimise any negative implications on the program, network and talent.


WHAT QUALITIES DO MANAGERS LOOK FOR WHEN HIRING JUNIOR/ENTRY-LEVEL TELEVISION PUBLICITY ROLES?

  • Ideally some PR experience and understandably, this would be internship experience for a graduate role.

  • Interest in the television industry and an understanding of the basics of how a television broadcaster works (if you don't have any experience to draw on, just Google!).

  • Tenacity.

  • An understanding of relevant television media outlets (you don't necessarily have to have personal contacts).

  • Display you consume television content in some form.

  • Desire to work within communications/PR. You're not expected to commit yourself to television for the rest of your life, but show a genuine passion for the communications industry in general.

  • Some administration skills.


WHAT ATTRIBUTES DOES A GREAT TELEVISION PUBLICIST HAVE?

  • Strong writer. You could be summarising an hour episode of a drama into two sentences, or writing a media release to announce a not-particularly compelling new show. The ability to adapt your writing style to reflect the theme/tone of a program.

  • Mental agility. Be able to work within and adapt to a fast-paced environment that can change, daily.

  • Strong organisational skills to juggle multiple deadlines at one time.

  • Transferable experience. You don't necessarily need television experience but you do need to demonstrate you understand the demands of strategising and managing a campaign, and you can articulate your personal campaign management experience.

  • The ability to manage stress better than most and utilise critical thinking skills to create a pathway in the face of adversity.


TIPS FOR SUCCEEDING IN ANY PR ROLE

  • Nurture stakeholder relationships. In the television industry this could be with production companies, talent, talent managers/agents and internal departments. Identify who is important in your role and ensure you're continually nurturing those relationships.

  • Whichever industry you are looking to enter, do your research prior to an interview. Know some decent background on the movements of that sector, who the key players are, and how the company you're applying to fits into that.

  • Consider what you can bring to a company or a department. If you're lacking sector experience, how can you make up for that with other attributes?


If you'd like to learn more about working in other sectors of PR, such as hospitality, beauty or lifestyle, you'll find those episodes here.

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