TV is a powerful medium. It reaches more people faster and has more impact than most publications. Even a 60-second segment will give your company credibility and great exposure. Startups often rule out television as an opportunity for media coverage, believing that it’s too complicated or that they don’t have “the right stuff”. It’s challenging and competitive to get on air, but with the right approach, you can increase your chances of seeing your company or product on TV screens in a local, regional or national market. Here are a few things to consider:
TV news producers like stories that are relevant to what’s happening in the news right now. Therefore, you always want to tie in a news peg. Assignment editors have a dynamic range of news pegs. Wrapping your company, product or expert spokesperson in a way that leverages a timely, relevant news peg is the key to getting interviewed on TV. You need to demonstrate that your company or company spokesperson can share useful, relevant information that will appeal to TV viewers or round out the news segment.
Producers want the answer to the question: So what? For example, say a city’s water supply has just been contaminated. You’re a local water filter company that manufacturers water bottles with high-tech, foolproof filters. You’ll stand a pretty good chance at making it onto the 6:00pm prime-time news. Why? Because the public is going to want to hear about a product that will help keep them and their families safe. If your company is located in a small market, don’t discount your local TV station. Large TV networks (eg ABC, CBS, and NBC) have affiliates in cities across the U.S., so even if your segment airs on a CBS station in Podunk, America, it could be picked up and shown by other CBS affiliates elsewhere.
Television operates in seconds. News stations may only have a mere 30 or 60 seconds to dedicate to your story. Think of the news value of your story and how you can communicate your message in an intriguing way. Use short bullet points so the producer can quickly review and assess your pitch. Do pitch story angles that connect viewers to the subject matter on an emotional level. For example, if your product or technology helped a child with cancer in a safer or more economical way, then you’ve got stronger shot at landing a news slot.
Newsroom staff often start to work at the crack of dawn. Arriving between 3:30-5:30am, they are immediately busy preparing for the early morning newscast. By 7:00am, they’re in editorial meetings, deciding which stories they are going to cover and assign to camera crews and reporters. Collaborate with your PR team so that you’re in the best position to provide the assignment desk with everything they need to prepare a compelling story, such as locations, spokesperson, customer reference, demo (if relevant), etc. If your news involves a particular event, schedule it between 10:00am and 2:00pm, because this will give the crew enough time to drive through traffic to your location.
Offering a TV reporter an exclusive on your news is a strong incentive for them to say yes. They prefer to develop news segments with a " scoop" rather than being one of many outlets covering the same news.
TV is above all else a visual medium. Always put yourself in the shoes of viewers. Ask yourself what you can offer assignment editors that will be visually stimulating besides the usual “talking head.” Maybe you can offer props that can be showcased or mentioned by the anchors at their desk. From a factory tour, to a wide shot of some activity occurring outside to an assembly line of your products being manufactured, consider what kind of strong visuals you can give to reporters for their news segment. Above all, think visual.
5. Expert Spokesperson
The camera exaggerates everything, so work with your PR team to establish your on-air presence. Many of the things you would normally do will be much more apparent on TV and might give the wrong impression. For example, make sure that you’re aware of your posture; slouching will give viewers the impression that you don’t care. Handwringing or nervous tics will be distracting to viewers. Use your natural voice when speaking; don’t try to sound like a game-show host.
Don’t worry if you have never been interviewed for TV before. Producers aren’t necessarily looking for seasoned TV pros. Remember, you know more than the reporter and the audience about this topic; and they’re looking to you for your insights. Project your expertise in an authentic, confident manner.
Since TV news teams spend a large part of their day rushing across town to cover one story after another, they often don’t have time for breaks, let alone lunch. It’s a great idea to work food into your news announcement or news event. Whether it’s a ribbon-cutting ceremony where you can offer breakfast, an industry conference where lunch will be provided, or a city council or industry panel, include finger foods/appetizers. Food is always a plus with reporters.
7. Social Media Channels
In the old days of TV news development, news came over a “news wire” feed, requiring reporters to scour through an endless ticker of paper looking for news stories to cover. Today’s newsroom is vastly different. With the advent of social media, channels like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat Stories have replaced the old newswire. Take Twitter for example. Reporters and producers now spend a fair amount of time on Twitter, both posting stories and searching for new ideas. Some stations even have a Twitter feed projected onto their walls. Do your research and identify key reporters at your local news stations and follow and engage with them when appropriate. When relevant tweet them a message or hash tag with relevant breaking news.