National TV placements are what every client wants. And as a publicist, national TV segments are exactly what I love bringing to my clients. A huge audience is watching, and it’s perhaps the biggest implied endorsement someone can get. In terms of visibility and building credibility, not much tops appearing as a guest on national TV.
The reality: getting booked on national TV is challenging. Everyone (PR firms, publicists, in house teams, authors, publishing houses, people doing their own media and others) is pitching these programs, and the competition is fierce. Recently I was speaking with a booking producer at one of the national networks, and I asked her how many pitches she receives on a daily basis. Her answer: hundreds! Imagine that: hundreds and hundreds of emails flooding her inbox every day from people fighting for those few precious moments of national airtime.
This past week I booked three national TV segments– one on Al Jazeera America, one on Bloomberg Television and one on CBS This Morning–and I’m very proud of that . Easy? Never! Doable? Absolutely!
The three segments all share similarities:
– A solid email pitch to the producers: Each pitch was well written and contained the four basic elements of a media pitch: the intro, which tells the producer why I am contacting her; the platform, which tells the producer who my client is; the thoughts, which tell the producer my client’s specific thoughts on the topic; and finally the close, where we ask for the interview and provide our contact details. Nothing fancy, no ridiculous 140-character attempt at Tweeting a pitch (which is the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard of and have yet to see anyone do consistently well) or anything else. Just good old-school pitching. If you think it sounds too basic, think again: I’m also sometimes on the receiving end of media pitches, and you wouldn’t believe just how awful they can be.
– Timely: Two of the interviews were based around breaking news or timely events that have an impact on the public. The other story, although not breaking news, was based on a general trend that has taken over an industry.
– Speed: Time is of the essence when working with breaking news. Seconds count. Not only do you need a well-written pitch; you need to bang it out and get it into the hands of the media before your competitors do.
– Experienced clients in the media: This wasn’t the first rodeo for these clients. In other words, they’re not strangers to the television scene. They’re very experienced television guests with many local and national TV interviews under their belts. If you manage to get the interest of a national TV producer, the two questions that generally come next are: 1) Does this person have TV experience? 2) Is he or she any good on camera? If you’ve never done TV before, it’s not an automatic disqualifier, but trust me when I say it’s so much easier to get through when you have previous television experience and are somewhat polished. Include a link or two in your pitch to your strongest previous TV interviews. That’s why I constantly stress the importance of local TV to my clients. I don’t care if it’s market number one or market number 200. It’s all good experience and a great credibility builder as well.
– Made the producer’s job easy: That producer isn’t only working on your segment. She’s working on other stories as well. Make her job easy. One client dropped absolutely everything and was on a plane headed to New York City within three hours of when I sent the pitch, while the other client was speeding across town to get to a local studio for a satellite uplink. When those producers ask for a bio or more clarification, get it to them in minutes, not hours. If you make their life easy, they’re going to remember that, and that’s how you build relationships for future opportunities.