Last week I attended the Publicity Club of Chicago (PCC) monthly luncheon featuring a panel of four Chicago morning TV producers:
The panel provided many great tips and insights that we can incorporate into our ongoing local story pitching for our clients.
Give us the Tease
The biggest part of watching television is how to keep viewers from switching channels
during the commercial. And the way to do this is with the tease. When pitching story ideas, one panelist suggested “if you can offer up what makes this story tease-able for us, that makes our job easier.”
When pitching, sending a short email is best. Producers care most about getting the five W’s rather than a press release or lengthy email. Many morning producers start work around midnight, making follow up calls difficult as their work schedule tends to be midnight to 8-9 a.m., making email the best form of communication. This further enhances why providing all the vital information upfront can be vital for booking a segment.
Upbeat, Impactful, Local
Producers are looking for upbeat stories, such as “National S’mores Day,” which is on August 10. Morning producers are always looking for stories that are influential to the viewer, such as a story on cancer or an individual doing good in the community.
And most importantly – with local television, everything needs a local connection. Whether it is a local company, individual or event, this tie is crucial to providing a hook for why a local news affiliate should give up precious time to their viewers.
“Deer in the headlights,” was a phrase used several times by the panelists to describe what can occur when clients are not prepared to do a live TV interview. As PR professionals, we can sometimes want to share our clients’ message on as many avenues as possible, but it is also important to make sure that the client is capable of fitting that media outlet. Producers love seeing footage of experts from live interviews so they get a feel for what to expect.
Media training is an important part of the process we offer clients, and should not be underestimated. Having clients who are comfortable in the space and topic is an invaluable asset, and media training can be a great asset to help turn anyone into a TV-ready spokesperson.