Friday, December 20, 2013

The Art of the Pitch: 10 Tips to Earning Time on Local TV and Radio.

So you have something you want to say, and need a big audience to say it to?  Whether it’s a product, an upcoming event or an idea – broadcast media gets the message out.

However, every television station and most radio stations handle a great number of press releases every day.  How can you get your message to the people making the decisions, who will let you share that message on their station?

Contact early
Some daily shows set up interviews up to a month in advance, while weekly programs might schedule months in advance.  Be sure to give the station time to fit you in.

Be informative
You’ve heard of who, what, when, where, why and how?  These are all questions you should answer in your message.

Be accurate and grammatically correct
Before you send off that letter or email or pick up the phone, make sure you have all the details down.  That means having the date, time and location set before promoting an event, or confirming the price and name of a product. Be sure to re-read what you’ve written before you press the send button – or have someone else read it for you.

Be quick about it
The average producer or editor doesn’t have a lot of time to go through everything that comes through a newsroom.  Deliver your initial message in no more than one page.

Get the point across first
Everyone knows that a festival will include x, y, and z – something to do, something to see, something to eat.  Everyone knows a location has a geographic address.  Share what makes yours different at

Go to the right person
The receptionist at the front desk will likely be happy to see you, but he or she probably won’t be able to make the decision to put you on the air.  While contacts with television anchors and radio personalities are important (they usually have a say in programming), it’s the producers and editors who control what content gets through. 

Be persistent, but don’t pester
Remember that whole lack of time issue?  The last thing anyone in a newsroom needs is someone demanding an answer.  Make sure your pitch gets in early, send a reminder if you don’t hear anything within two weeks of the scheduled date, and accept “not right now” as an answer.

Don’t be boring
Are you engaging?  Can you quickly share your message without confusing the audience?  Practice talking about your message – and don’t be afraid to choose the best spokesperson in your organization to spread that message about. 

Two minutes is better than no minutes
With the press for more content and the hectic nature of local interview programs, many producers are limiting interviews to as little as two minutes.  Just like your pitch, be succinct – and gracious.

Always be gracious
While the air is free, it costs money to put something on the airwaves – or cable, satellite or the internet.  You’re asking for free time in a medium that charges by the 30 or 60 second spot.  Be sure to thank the people at each station for having you on.  They’ll remember the kindness.

Who to ask for:                            Don’t ask for:
Affiliate TV                Assignment editor                            Station manager
(CBS, NBC,                Morning show producer                  News director
ABC, FOX)                 Noon show producer                       Program director
                                                                                                News anchor

Non-affiliate TV        Assignment editor                            Station manager
with newscast            Feature producer

Community access   Program director                              Station manager

Radio                          News desk (if station runs news)   Station manager
                                    Morning drive producer                  Production manager
                                    Evening drive producer                   Program director
                                    Specific show producer                    DJ on the air

Newspaper                City editor                                         Managing editor
                                    Features editor                                 Publisher
                                    Features reporter                            Circulation desk

Internet/                   Content editor                                                          
Websites                    Writer                        

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Be kind.