Cheat Sheet: How to Pitch a National Journalist Part 2 – TV Edition
Just one mention on a nationally syndicated television show can blow your company into the stratosphere – it can increase sales, gain tons of new customers and clients, and even get your company acquired – which is why landing a nationally syndicated show is one of the most coveted PR coups in the world. But unfortunately, it’s also the toughest. A five-million person audience never comes easy.
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) Founder Peter Shankman as hosted another “How to Pitch a Reporter” Call with guests Michelle Siegel, who’s worked on Rachel Ray and the CBS Early Show, Tamsen Fadal, national host and current anchor of WPIX 11 News New York, Marta Tracy, one of the original creators of E! and The Style Network, and Rebecca Millman, of NBC and Better TV.
Here are the best tips we got from the call:
1) The idea: It starts with an interesting or game changing idea. Producers want the WOW factor according to Marta Tracy, television and media strategist and co-author of Starring You!. It’s what makes a pitch distinctive.
2) Contact: The best way to contact producers is through email. Some will take phone calls, but producers generally don’t have time for phone calls. LinkedIn is also a great way to get producers’ information. Don’t use Facebook! It has become too personal and using it to track down reporters crosses the line and can creep some people out. Vocus has a great database of 30,000 journalists and bloggers. The database includes what they’ve worked on in the past and what they’re currently working on as well as their likes and dislikes. Constant networking is also necessary in order to gain contact information. You don’t need an agent to get you in the door, although it may help at times. Ultimately, producers are looking for great ideas.
3) Research: Make sure you know the name of the show and the main people involved. It insults producers when you don’t know the name of the show or what it’s about. That’s a sure fire way to get in their dog house and it can take six months to a year to climb out.
4) Presentation: Make your email stand out. It has to be relatable. It needs to be clear, concise, and simple according to Michelle Siegel, a producer for Tyra. Think like a producer. What would you look for? Make sure it’s energetic. Producers love lists or top 10’s. Things like that are sure to catch their eye. Length is not as important as content according to Ojinika Obiekwe, a segment producer at WPIX in New York. The more useful a pitch is, the more likely it is to get on television, according to the creator of HARO, Peter Shankman. Tamsan Fadal, a TV anchor for WPIX says that it is very important that the pitch applies to the audience.
5) NO ATTACHMENTS: Put your press release in the body of the e-mail. Producers will not open attachments because they simply don’t have time. If you have pictures to include with your pitch, place links to the pictures in the body as well. HARO is built to strip out attachments so the attachment won’t even be sent if you use HARO.
6) Timing: Timing is everything. Make sure it pretains to current events or hot button issues. Also, make sure you give the producer enough time. For example, if your pitch pertains to Christmas, don’t send it out on December 23rd. That simply won’t give the producer enough time. Respect that they are busy. Also, don’t pitch when the show is on. That shows that you really haven’t done your research and you have no clue who you’re pitching to. The end of the day works well for some, but for most, just avoid pitching when the show is on the air and you’ll be fine.
7) The Follow-Up: If you haven’t heard back from the producer, it’s ok to follow-up with an email, but don’t be too aggressive. Producers don’t have time to answer all of their emails. You don’t want to ruin a relationship by being too aggressive. That gets you in the dog house too. Don’t worry if your pitch isn’t picked up. As long as you’re professionally graceful througout the process, you’ll live to pitch another day.
This post was authored by Trey Newstedt, our Vocus/PRWeb summer marketing intern. Trey is a rising Junior and a Strategic Communications major with a Business minor at Elon University. He has served as treasurer of Elon’s PRSSA chapter and was the youngest person to serve on the executive board. Trey is traveling abroad to London in the fall where he will embark on another PR internship. Let Trey know your thoughts on his post in the comments section below.
(Photo – Flickr Creative Commons: espensorvik)
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