Media Minute – Q & A with Brian Thompson, WNBC

Interview by Joe Gargiulo, Senior Vice President, Coyne Public Relations
Treasurer & Sponsorship Co-Chair, PRSA NJ

Brian Thompson has been a New Jersey Bureau Reporter for WNBC since 1998. In 2005, Thompson earned a New York Emmy-award for his work on WNBC’s political series “What Matters.” He has been cited six times by the Associated Press for Best Coverage by a New Jersey-Based Correspondent and was awarded the first Environmental Journalism Award by the NY/NJ Baykeeper for a pair of reports on an illegal development on the edge of New York’s Harbor. Brian is a graduate of the University of Florida and received a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism.

What are some of your daily challenges in developing a story?
It’s always time. We have to plan our deadlines based on when we are going to be on the air at four, five or six. It takes time to get places. It takes time to shoot, to find the right interview sound, it takes time to write and give my photographer enough time to edit.

How can PR professionals be of most value to you?
Most stories need a personal angle. Somebody affected by whatever it is we are reporting on. I don’t need the corporate CEO or spokesman so much as I need the worker who figured out the answer or someone in the general public who is affected by a corporate development.

What information is essential for you to consider a ‘pitch’ from a PR professional?
We do very little feature material these days; it’s not like the old days. So the pitch has to be something that will have a major effect on the public, as opposed to a major impact on a company or institution.

Think about your favorite PR professional – what has he/she done well to become an important resource for you?
My favorite is someone who recognized that even when something seems a little different; it’s still a good story. At first, it may not seem to reflect well on the organization, but in the end it was so interesting, so engaging, that it made the organization look good.

In your opinion, what can PR professionals do better?
Answer any media inquiries right away. Time is of the essence. If we do not know soon after we call that you could help us, then we have to turn away to another resource. I can’t wait until noon to find out if you are going to play ball with me and if you have the right video opportunities and interview opportunities for me; it’s too late by then.

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