A satellite media tour (or SMT, for those us in “the biz”) is a series of interviews, usually live, in various cities across the country that allow a company to get instant public exposure. Here at AMS Studios in Austin, we’ve done them in all shapes and sizes, ranging from generating public awareness of a debilitating disease to promoting movies like we did recently with Matthew McConaughey and Richard Linklater for their movie “Bernie.”
Regardless of the talent or their message, being prepared is the first measure to take to ensure a successful SMT.
- Step 1 – Crewin’ Around
SMTs have a lot of moving parts. Just having somebody to run a camera isn’t going to cut it. Make sure you have qualified people to act as an Engineer In Charge, Technical Director, Camera Operator(s), Audio Engineer, and Lighting Director. Having a deep database of local freelancers can be invaluable in resourcing jobs like these.
- Step 2 – Let there be Pre-Light
The last thing you want is to wait until the last minute to set these things up while the talent and client are waiting and the clock ticks ever closer to that first hit time. At the very least, the Engineer in Charge and Lighting Director should be on hand the day prior for the Pre-Light. During the Pre-Light, all elements will be set up and all gear should be tested to be in good working condition. Obviously there could be unforeseen trouble on the day of and the goal is to eliminate as much of that as possible.
- Step 3 – It’s About Time…
There is really no way of getting around this… call times for SMTs can be brutally early. Most of the interviews will be on live morning shows all across the country. So, while us Central Timers are usually hitting snooze for the 3rd time of the morning, the Eastern Timers are already on their second cup of coffee and watching the morning news. Which means, if your first interview is at 6:00AM Eastern Time, it starts at 5:00AM Central Time. So, your call time will be somewhere around 3:30AM! Set multiple alarms and just be glad you’re not a Pacific Timer!
- Step 4 – The Taste of Success
As you can see, SMTs can start early and go for a long time, so make sure you’ve got some breakfast set up for your talent and crew. A bagel and some orange juice can go a long way in keeping people happy during a stressful early call time. Prepare early for your meals as your call time may prevent you from running to the grocery store or having something catered.
In the end, as with any production work, it all comes down to preparation across the board. Preparing for any bumps in the road will make sure your SMT runs smoothly and allows your client’s message to reach the largest possible audience.