One of the many great ways to gain publicity is to go on television and share your expertise with a wide audience.
It’s such a perfect venue for getting your message across. Viewers at home see you, get a feel for your personality and learn something about what you have to offer them. For these reasons we love getting clients through the TV studio doors and on the air – not always an easy task.
Because a new team member, Heather Gordon, recently took over as our TV Campaign Manager, I wanted to devote this PR Insider to tips on landing a TV appearance. Heather comes to us from the Tampa area’s ABC affiliate where she worked as a TV producer. That means, not so long ago, she was in the trenches on the other side, one of the people on the receiving end of pitches coming in from people with story ideas or expertise to offer about the news of the day.
Here’s what Heather had to say about bursting through the daily information clutter to grab the attention of TV professionals:
- Who to contact. The best person to contact can vary by station, but here’s something to keep in mind. While you can always pitch something to the producers, it might be equally advantageous to reach out to reporters. TV reporters go into daily meetings where they are expected to bring story ideas. Why shouldn’t one of those stories be yours?
- Look at me! Look at me! An email is the best means for contacting the TV folks, but you need to put some thought into it. A strong subject line is especially important. TV producers and reporters are inundated with hundreds or thousands of emails daily, so it’s crucial to stand out. Many of those emails likely will be deleted without even being opened. You want yours to be an exception, something that intrigues them and makes them wonder, “What’s this about?” Once the email is opened, the heading on your pitch becomes similarly important. TV producers and reporters have little time to waste. “If you don’t get them in the first couple of sentences, you might not get them at all,” Heather says.
- Keep it short. Sum up your message in as few sentences possible, but include links to websites or video that provide additional information. “If you grab their interest, they will want to have easy access to everything,” Heather says. “If you can show you did the research for them, that goes a long way.”
Also, if you are promoting a specific event, make sure you include the details they would need if they want to send a crew out to cover it. A surprising number of pitches leave out basic information, such as the time the event starts or the address where it’s happening.
- Social media. Following your local TV anchors and individual reporters on social media platforms such as Twitter can pay dividends. Encouraged by their station to engage with the public, they often will tweet about stories they are working on. That way you will know if they are pursuing a topic you could offer insight into.
- Timing is everything. It’s important to keep up with what’s happening in the world for a couple of reasons. You don’t want to contact the station in the middle of a major breaking news story when everyone at the station is swamped with activity. At the same time, you might be able to offer a great perspective on that news story. “If it’s a big story, the next day they are going to be doing follow-up stories and will be looking for new angles,” Heather says. “That would be a great time to strike.”
- Making a good impression. If you have a website or social media sites, the TV producer or reporter likely will be checking them out (especially if you linked to them in the pitch). It’s important that these sites project a professional image. For example, a lot of misspelled words could undermine your credibility. If you previously appeared on TV, it’s a good idea to have video of those appearances on your website. But be careful about creating your own video. “That could work against you, depending on the equipment you use and the setup you have,” Heather says. “If you can get a professional to make the video, that works much better.” Also, remember that TV producers love easy access to “B-roll” – essentially any footage you can create that represents what you do. The TV station could show the B-roll while you are being interviewed.
Finally, it’s important to be available on the TV station’s timeline and to be ready with answers to their questions.
“When they want it,” Heather says, “they usually want it now.”
Are you ready for your close-up?
P.S. If you need help getting TV interviews, give us a call at 727-443-7115 ext. 211