By: Kassidy Stricklett
There is nothing like the thrill of being live on television. In my nearly three years as a broadcast journalist, I always had butterflies when listening to the countdown before a live shot or studio feature. Life as a journalist was exhilarating and educational, giving me invaluable skills I will use for the rest of my life.
While I am no longer in a newsroom environment, I witnessed firsthand the avalanche of story ideas and PR pitches that inundate a local TV station’s newsroom. Amidst the hundreds of emails we received daily, only a handful managed to enter the spotlight — earning airtime or even a response.
Now, as a PR professional, I have taken my experience in broadcast television and transformed it into a successful pitching approach for clients – scoring various live, on-air interviews and local tv placements.
If you pitch broadcast TV, here are a few things you should remember.
Why does your story matter to viewers?
Let’s face it, we all think our stories are important and worthy of coverage when sending a pitch. However, a producer or reporter doesn’t want to know why this story matters to you – they need to understand why it matters to their viewers.
Here are three questions to ask yourself to determine if a pitch is warranted and likely to gain coverage:
By asking yourself these three questions, and having the ability to answer them, you can improve your chances of a successful pitch.
Visualize the Visuals
When it comes to television placements, visuals are paramount. If someone wanted to learn more about a story without videos or pictures - they’d read the newspaper or listen to a podcast instead of tuning in to a tv station. The easier it is for a reporter to gather visual aspects, the better – and if you call out specific video opportunities in a pitch, that’s a slam dunk.
Now, if you’re pitching a subject matter expert for a live, in-studio interview – it’s a little different. If the producer needs content such as photos or videos to play over the interview, they will typically ask. (Although, if you can provide a demonstration for viewers on set, that’s always great to point out.)
Get it on the Books
This tip mainly applies to live interview segments, however, the earlier you plan, the better.
While each outlet may have a different approach to scheduling live in-studio interviews, it's beneficial to reach out in advance.
For example, if you have a client hoping to provide commentary during a live interview segment for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, I would reach out in early September to see if a producer is interested. This approach allows you time to prepare your client and helps you stay ahead of the competition.
In the end, there are various nuances and factors you should take into consideration when pitching to a local television station. Every day is different in a newsroom and sometimes, even the best stories can be overshadowed by breaking news. Keep trying and know that if an approach isn’t garnering results – it's okay to switch it up!