Last week, Erin McGraw, Kyle Haas and myself attended the Publicity Club of Chicago’s monthly luncheon at Maggiano’s to enjoy some excellent food, great company, and the advice of some industry experts on how to get morning TV news coverage for clients. The panel consisted of Platform Manager Michael Batkins of NBC Chicago, Producer Emerald Jane-Hunter of ABC’s Windy City Live, Supervising Producer Tracy O’Brien of CBS 2 and Executive Producer Sandy Pudar of WGN Morning News.
These Chicago media pros offered their best advice for pitching producers, and provided some insider insight on the key do’s and don’ts. Below are some of our favorite key takeaways:
Pitching for TV
- Do not harass the media: The panelists could not stress this enough. If your pitch is well-written and it seems like a good fit for the program, your contact will eventually respond. If they don’t respond immediately, or they have said no, don’t continue to call them 10 times a day. The panel agreed that sending an initial email and a follow-up email a week later is the best way to approach the media with a pitch.
- Think visually: The panelists estimated that 95 percent of the pitches they receive do not make it on TV. Before sending a pitch, think about how your idea would resonate on TV. Keep the viewer in mind. Why would the viewer want to know about your client? What are the visuals? Be able to show them instead of just telling them.
- Point out your client’s strengths: If your client has a large social media following, mention it in your pitch because it lets the producer know that your client has potential value to them. Send a clip of your client on camera to demonstrate to the producer that the client is personable and likable.
- Prove that you have done your research: The pitch you are sending should be unique to each and every contact. Show the producer that you know the network by offering suggestions specific to their program. For example, suggest a co-anchor or host that would be a good fit for the segment and state why.
- Be concise: It’s a simple rule of thumb, yet we all have trouble sticking to it. The panel agreed that they all receive countless pitches that ramble on about the background of the client. Get to point in the first few sentences, and don’t state the obvious.