There’s More to It than Just Sending Out a Press Release
In the past few months, I’ve covered a lot of ground with regard to how to do your own public relations campaign. I’ve explained how to make yourself or your company appealing to the media, how to write pitches and why articles work better than press releases.
But I haven’t yet explained some crucial elements with regard to orchestrating a PR campaign and more specifically with regard to landing TV appearances. Radio and print publicity definitely require attention to details – but the number of logistical issues you have to deal with for TV exposure is far greater.
So let’s discuss some of the elements for putting together a really good TV pitch that can result in valuable media opportunities for you.
The Producer Wants to Shoot “on Location”
It’s not unusual for a producer to be interested in your pitch, but want the interview to be done at a location that illustrates what the story is about. TV, after all, is a visual medium.
A great example that comes to mind is a client who is an expert on how to deal with foreclosure – a timely topic, unfortunately. He was traveling around the country to cities experiencing high percentages of foreclosures and in each city we obtained media coverage for him. But in Phoenix, Arizona, the producer didn’t want just a “talking head” interview. She agreed to do the interview only if it could be at a foreclosure property. And of course it was up to us to locate a suitable site, get permission to shoot the interview there, and ensure the TV crew had access when they arrived. After many, many phone calls to pull all of this together, the location was finalized, permission was obtained and the client’s TV interview was confirmed. In fact, it turned out to be one of the client’s best interviews.
So when planning your pitch for TV it’s a good idea to give some thought about where your story would best be told. You would be smart to research all the details about the location and offer an on-site segment as part of your pitch. For instance, if you are an expert on bridge safety you would want to pitch shows in those cities with older or problematic bridges, and suggest a location on or near the bridge to illustrate your message.
Visuals are a Must
If the three most important words in real estate are “location, location, location,” in television they are “visuals, visuals, visuals.” Even if it’s an in-studio segment, the producer will be more inclined to book you as a guest if you can provide visuals as part of your interview. It can be props that are part of your message, or even graphs to illustrate your message. Two examples come to mind where we had to do a lot of extra work to close the deal with the producer.
One example had to do with a producer for a national TV show who was very interested in a segment we were pitching related to “Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month.” But the producer only wanted our client if she could bring 10 to 15 shelter dogs with her. Talk about logistics! My staff called animal shelters all around NYC, New Jersey and Long Island and finally found one who wanted to work with us. The shelter agreed to find 10 shelter dogs that they knew were compatible with each other and wouldn’t fight on the set, bring them to the studio at the scheduled time, and provide pens for them to be contained in for the time they were there. In the process of our calling around, we also found a second shelter that brought a “pet-mobile” to the studio and parked it outside for the day. It was a huge amount of work for my team, but really paid off for the client. At the end of the segment the host invited people to come down to the studio and adopt a cat or dog on the spot. Many showed up and so it was a huge success for everyone!
Another example has to do with the many cookbook authors we’ve represented over the years. If you’ve written a cookbook and want to promote it, you’d best be ready to do some cooking on-air, particularly if the station has an in-studio kitchen. Be ready to prepare your signature dish or at the very least, to show all the ingredients, measured out, sliced and diced and ready to use, followed by the triumphant presentation of the completed masterpiece. You may even have to arrange for (and pay) a food “stylist” to create the sumptuous spread that the show’s producer may demand, particularly when dealing with the national shows.
That’s a Wrap
What I recommend is that you get creative…watch TV shows for ideas. Before you write your TV pitch, see the segment in your mind – think of what locations, props and actions would be the most interesting for the show’s audience.
What I can promise you is if your story is entertaining and makes for an interesting and informative segment, with clearly planned out details, TV producers will be far more likely to invite you to be a guest. Producers appreciate segments that are fully planned out and if you can’t deliver the goods, they won’t waste a minute before moving onto the next candidate that has his segment “packaged” and camera-ready!
Good luck, and have fun!