Coming from a TV news background and moving on to one of the best PR firms in Indy, I know there are certain emails morning show producers and reporters will delete before even reading them. This makes a PR pro’s job especially difficult. Still, there are ways to mold your client into the ideal feature segment for morning TV news.
- Know who you’re pitching. Not all morning shows feature the same kind of stories. While some shows are as long as five or six hours and utilize several live feature segments, many have a strict hard news only policy. Those particular shows are focused solely on the daily happenings around town (i.e. bank robberies, murders, city budget issues). If a morning show producer at a station with a hard news only brand gets your pitch about new pet accessories, you’ll never hear back or you’ll receive an email you’d rather not have in your inbox. Use those great PR tools and do your research! Stations with morning shows that offer more fun, light segments will often post video on the website . No fun segments online likely means you better pitch elsewhere.
- Make it timely.News is all about… wait for it… what’s new. Find a timely peg to your pitch. You can try localizing a national story to make it more relevant now. While it’s true, some segments air without that timely peg, it’ll make your pitch stronger if there’s a reason a producer needs to schedule now as opposed to whenever there’s a gap in the schedule.
- Visualize it. What makes TV different from radio and newspaper? Video! Typically, a sit down interview with no demonstration, supporting video or graphics will simply not make the cut. Really think about how you can visualize the story surrounding the client and include that information in the PR pitch. Don’t make a producer or a reporter go searching for ways to cover up the stagnant “talking heads,” give them suggestions! Sometimes good stories never make the air due to the fact that they aren’t visually appealing, so think long and hard before you pitch a morning show producer or reporter so your good idea doesn’t end up in a deleted folder.
- Know the audience. Morning show features need to appeal to a large audience. Men, women, kids, parents- it would be ideal if your story idea would be deemed interesting to all of them, but it doesn’t have to. So long as your story appeals to large groups of viewers, it could be a fit. Segment ideas that cater to women and parents are always a big hit in the mornings.
- Be realistic. If your client is scheduled for a morning show interview the morning after the mayor is arrested for spending $100,000 of city money, know that your client will not be making air. Even day before confirmation from a morning show producer does not guarantee a segment will air as scheduled the following day. News happens at the blink of the eye and segments can be canceled just as fast. If that happens, use those media relations skills to follow up and make sure your segment is rescheduled.
- Be creative! Don’t be scared to think outside of the box when it comes to a segment idea. When I worked in TV, we had a segment air on undergarment accessories. This involved our lead anchor wearing a booty pop and a camera operator zooming in on her behind. Timely? No. Intriguing for an audience? Sure! Think about this when you’re pitching an idea: is this a segment I’d watch if this person/company weren’t my client?