I know the thought of appearing on TV can sound scary and intimidating. If you’re not comfortable talking to others in public, if you’re socially challenged, or you’re absolutely terrified of being on camera (think: you start hyperventilating), then you may better off sticking with print and online media. But if you’re nervous and excited about the prospect of appearing on TV, then read on.
Finding an appropriate PR contact for television (such as a producer or assignment reporter) can be confusing. Each television show has numerous producers and reporters (i.e., executive producers, segment producers, booking producers), so it's important you contact the right one. Look on Twitter.com, LinkedIn.com, and even MuckRack.com to find which producer covers particular segments on a given news or TV program.
You can also DVR a program's credits, and scrutinize them afterward. If you can't find the right producer or assignment reporter, you can also call the news desk and ask for the producer or reporter who covers the beat that matches your expertise or brand. You can also check out HARO or HelpaReporter.com for television opportunities.
1. Writing your pitch.
Your pitch must contain a specific idea for a story or segment. Remember, this is not a pitch for you personally. (Once you’re a celebrity, these rules can change. But for now, let’s keep things simple.) As you’ve already learned, the best pitches are ones that take into account current events and the latest trends.
2. Subject line.
The subject line needs to be very compelling and timely to capture a producer’s attention. Most television producers receive 500+ pitches per day, so yours needs to stand out. Additionally, your subject line should be:
Limited to 12 words or fewer
Include the name and segment of the outlet you’re pitching
You can use “Int” as an abbreviation for “Interview”
Again, you’ll want to make sure that your email pitch shows you know the viewers the program is trying to reach, and what they find entertaining. Here are some tips to follow:
You can include a short sub-headline in the intro of your pitch to let your reader know more about what you’re pitching. See the example below.
Always address the producer or assignment reporter by the first name. Make sure you spell their name correctly. If not, your pitch will end up in the trash.
The body of your pitch should be close to 200 words. Be sure to include five to seven talking points (i.e., things you can easily talk about in an interview. These are NOT the same as the general bullet points you include when pitching a product or service.)
With respect to TV pitching, the golden rule is that less is more. Make your pitch interesting, short, and sharp. If a producer’s eyes start to skim over your pitch, it’s game over. After the body of the pitch, include a short 200-word (or less) bio. Let the reader know who you are by including your achievements and hobbies. Be sure to include your contact information.
Finally, you absolutely must include a short video clip so the media can see who you are and how you appear on television. Producers won't put anyone in front of a camera unless they can see that you are comfortable and can act naturally on TV. If you don’t have a video clip, you can use one from a speaking engagement, training, or some other type of video footage.
4. After the pitch.
Similar to pitching online and print, if you don’t get a response in a few days, follow up by email. You can follow up one or two more times after that before moving onto the next show.
If you do get selected, be sure to arrive on time, and be nice to everyone you meet – including receptionists, interns, and pages. You’d be surprised how many people ruin their chances of a repeat booking by being rude to staff members.
Again, take the time to send a thank you note after an interview. These small gestures can go a long way to securing an additional interview.