Breaking news is inherently unpredictable, but regular programming is planned according to “evergreens” -- topics that follow the events and festivities of the calendar year. Keeping track of the calendar makes it easier for producers to plan ahead, and it gives a chance to entrepreneurs everywhere to pitch stories that relate to the topic of the month to get some much-coveted airtime.
Here's what you should keep in mind if you want to land a guest spot on a TV program:
Know the cycles
The beginning of the year is anything but blah on the small screen. Quite the contrary, it is during the harsh winter months that you are most likely to see your favorite celebrities at events such as Fashion Week, the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards. Health and fitness shows take a large part of the pie as well, with experts trying to help people stick to their New Year's resolutions, shed a few pounds in time for Valentine’s Day, and get into healthy eating habits in time for March’s National Nutrition Month.
Accountants raid TV channels in time for April’s tax season, and if you file early enough, you might get back some tax dollars to spend on Mother’s Day in May. May is a busy month with Memorial Day marking the unofficial beginning of summer, which really stretches from Father’s Day in June all the way to the kids going back to school around Labor Day in September. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. The fall has the richest topics of all as we celebrate one holiday after the other: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve!
Prepare your pitch
Even if you’re working on a story about Grandparents Day in September, you should always start early and pitch your idea early in the year. Producers plan segments ahead of time and they also plan guests. So if you want a chance to be considered as a replacement for a regular guest, make yourself known in advance.
Make sure you explain how your expertise ties into an event or a holiday, and offer ideas that can be useful to the network’s audience. Watching television has morphed into listening to the television in the past few years, so the producer has to recognize that your story will be compelling enough for viewers to take their eyes off their tablets and on to you.
Stay on the producer’s radar
If you are considered for a segment, don’t fall in the cracks of time and be forgotten. Check back regularly with the producer, alternating between a call, an email and maybe a courtesy retweet now and then. When you visit the studios before the interview, get as much information as possible about the allotted time, seating arrangements and any other questions you may have. The more prepared you are, the more professional you will be, and the more chances you have of getting invited on the set again.
TV timing is all about preparing for both the expected and the unexpected. Look at your calendar and see which season would make your brand a perfect addition to a show. But if you do get canceled because of breaking news, don’t give up. Try again until you can find your spot.