A public relations dream: A client sitting opposite Matt Lauer on the couch of the Today Show! But how do you get your pitch heard by the producers who book guests for major networks like ABC, NBC and CBS? Follow the social signals, get creative, practice brevity and embrace authority!
- Mariann Sabol, “Live! with Kelly”
- Tommy Crudup, “Rachael Ray Show”
- Dan Fitzpatrick, “The Wendy Williams Show”
- Stacy Rollins, Producers of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” & Anderson Cooper’s “Anderson”
and they are always looking for story sources!
Problem: Producer Overload
It’s a fact; getting producers’ attention is increasingly difficult. Bookers for these talk shows shows are constantly bombarded with hundreds of emails, press kits, email pitches and phone calls – all from people who think they are the next Dr. Phil.
The problem is, anyone can call themselves an expert or publish a book. And it stands to reason that every one of those people has tried to get booked on a national talk show or in a prominent magazine.
So if you’re looking for national exposure, exactly how do you get it?
Know Who You’re Pitching – Watch Just One Episode
The number one mistake people make is not doing your research on the shows they are trying to get booked. And it doesn’t take much. Even watching one episode should give you a good idea on what that show is about.
Make sure you know who you’re pitching. Be familiar with that show’s audience. It helps to know as much about the host as possible. If they have a particular interest that relates back to your pitch, you might want to tailor your pitch to reflect it.
However it could work against you, according to Tommy Crudup, one of the producers of “The Rachel Ray Show”.
“Rachel loves dogs but she’s not doing dog segments every day.”
Social PR Chat TIP: Get social with the show’s Twitter stream and familiarize yourself with the online conversations!
Remember Their Time is Limited, And Know What They Want
Even if they wanted to, producers can’t spend all day listening to your pitch.
They’ve got shows to produce! Never try to pitch a producer when the show is on the air. Don’t call (they won’t answer) and even though your email might be returned later, you run the risk of getting lost in the shuffle.
At the end of the day all they want is an entertaining segment that will inform and entertain viewers. If you can deliver that, if won’t matter how many degrees you have or how many books you’ve sold.
Social PR Tip: Create an Infographic that brings your story pitch to life!
How Do You Stand Out?
Getting lost in the shuffle is easy. Network show producer’s offices are usually covered by a barrage of materials.
Books. Press Kits. Faxes. Producers have admitted they are overwhelmed.
So how do you get noticed? You need to be able to sell yourself with a variety of quick engaging hooks that explain what you are all about in a sentence or two. They prefer to be pitched by email, which is why that quick hook is essential.
And you’re hook needs to stand out. You need to be able to come at things differently than everyone else.
Have an absolute sense of authority and don’t be afraid to say something controversial or something that goes against the grain.
What Makes An Ideal Guest
Producers like a guest who can play ball, even go a little bit outside their own comfort zone. Those are the people likely to get repeat bookings.
If you want to get booked and keep coming back, producers like Crudup recommend that guests do the necessary research and work with the producers without complaining.
They like guests who are reliable and deliver a consistent message. Also drive up any visual component of your presentation. It is TV, and any visual element will help you be memorable, and can lead to more bookings.
And most importantly, know how to speak in soundbites.
Social PR Chat Tip: Create a 2 minute video of you being interviewed in a similiar format as the show you are pitching!
Develop a strong personal brand. Tell stories not just tips. Be high energy but be genuine.
If you’ve done any previous TV interviews, on local TV, or even on radio, use those clips to pitch yourself.
And whenever possible try to meet these producers in person, you’ll have that much greater a chance of leaving an impression and getting booked.
Steve Harrison, publisher of the Radio-TV Interview Report, regularly hosts webinars teaching publicity tactics. This blog post is based on his webinar “Let Steve Harrison and His Producer Friends — Who Currently Book Guests for ABC, NBC, and CBS — Teach You How to Become a Guest on National TV”