Lights, Camera, Pitch: 5 Tips to Successfully Land Your Expert on TV
If you work in PR, you must have surely at least once heard this from your client: “Get me on TV”. To be able to fulfill this wish, every PR pro needs to understand that pitching a story to a TV journalist requires a different strategy than pitching to print or online publications. Here we decided to share some tips that will help you to get your spokesperson on TV.
But before we start
First of all, why is it worth pitching to TV News?
It is pretty hard to disagree that even though there are so many more outlets for coverage than ever before, landing a broadcast segment for your client still feels especially exciting. And there is a sense in this: the latest media consumption trends suggest that getting your story on TV is quite crucial for effectively reaching your audience. However, broadcast media can be difficult to break into, and requires a different pitching style than print or online news. So let’s get straight to the tips.
Tip #1. Make your story newsworthy and clear
To successfully pitch a story idea to a TV journalist, it is important to make the story newsworthy. Even if you are pitching to a morning show or current affair program, you will have the best success if you link your pitch to something topical. If the producers can relate your idea to a current story in the media, it gives them more incentive to run with the idea.
Provide a clear angle and don’t beat around the bush. A producer will usually skim the first few sentences of the hundreds of emails they receive daily, so you want your pitch to stand out.
Tip #2. Captivate an effective pitch
We are sure you hear this phrase pretty often. But what does an “effective pitch” exactly mean?
- Keep it “straight to the point”. To avoid overwhelming a busy producer, keep your pitch concise and focused on the hook: Why is your story relevant and timely? The goal is to generate initial interest, and you can provide more details in later discussions.
- Turn it into a conversation. Write your pitch using a conversational tone and present tense. This makes it easier for writers to use and could increase the chances of them copying and pasting from your email.
- Don’t be too promotional. Remember — you are not offering your expert, you are offering a story he wants to share with others. Be mindful of that: rather than listing the list of your client’ merits, pay attention to explaining why they should be listened to.
Tip #3. Know who you pitch
When pitching on TV, there is definitely no point in pitching everyone mentioned in the “Team” or “Contact” session on the website. Consider pitching:
- Assignment editors
- Digital producers (if they can’t cover your story on TV, they might be able to on the website)
- Special projects (your story will need to align with their niche)
- Executive producers
- Planning editors
- Assignment managers
- Managing editors
Tip #4. Keep your expert on standby
After crafting your TV pitch and introducing your expert, the show is not yet over.
It is important to ensure that your expert is well-prepared for the live broadcast recording. This means that they should have gone through multiple rehearsals and feel comfortable with the material. If they are not used to being on camera, it may be helpful to provide some training or coaching to help them feel more at ease.
Finally, it is important to make sure that your expert has made time in their schedule to be available for the live broadcast. This may require some flexibility on their part, but it is crucial to ensure that everything runs smoothly on the day of the recording.
Tip #5. Don’t be afraid of the follow-up — maybe a little sooner than with print
It is common industry practice to follow up on your first email within two or three days. However, with broadcasting, waiting that long is not an option.
When pitching a story to a TV journalist, it is important to follow up with them quickly, rather than waiting a few days as is common with print media. This is because professionals in broadcasting have an irregular schedule, and there is a constant transition and turnover throughout the day and night. Following up within hours of sending the initial pitch, and then again the night before and the day of the story, is essential to ensure that your story is not forgotten or lost in the shuffle.
This post included highlights from the Perfect PR webinar on how to pitch to TV.