You have a great cause, event or idea and you think it’s newsworthy. Before you pick up the phone to try to sell your story to a TV producer, there are a few first steps to take:
- Do your research: is there a reporter and/or producer who covers pets/ animals? Is one station more pet-friendly than another? Do you know anyone at any of these stations?
- Be prepared: reporters need information in a reporters need information in an organized manner.
Don’t call a reporter unless you are prepared to answer questions and provide background on your company or organization.
Have a background information sheet, a FAQ sheet, statistics to back up your story.
Have bios for your spokespersons.
- If you do get your company or organization on television, can you handle a possible boom in business, phone calls, emails or people at an event?
Local and network (national) news rooms are bombarded by phone calls, emails, news releases and pitches every day. Yours needs to stand out and be newsworthy.
Have a point person who can handle television interviews – someone who is articulate and can talk in sound bites, meaning someone who can make their point clearly and quickly. Also have all your facts and figures ready and make sure they are accurate! Know what visuals you have – for television you must have something that can be illustrated. Make some accessible to the television producers up until the story gets on the air for last minute fact checking.
Remember news organizations are on deadline. It is not recommended to call local news between 4:30 and 6:30pm. That’s when they are working to get on the air. Network TV deadlines vary. Email your pitch or news release that is concise and to the point – a few paragraphs, then follow up with a phone call. Send your information early – give as much notice as possible to your cause or event. This too will vary – but contact the news desk, reporter or producer weeks or months before your event. And don’t be afraid to follow up with a reminder call as it gets closer.
Be aware of other large events being covered by the media. If one topic is dominating TV airtime, it’s not a good time to pitch your story unless you have a close tie in to the current event.
Don’t be discouraged if you get turned down. You can try to find out why, but truthfully most won’t tell you why. TV producers and editors just don’t have time to analyze. Depending on your pitch, you can try again. Often getting on TV is all about timing and luck – what else is happening in your area or the world will determine if your ideas gets on television.