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How to Secure Local News Coverage

Securing local news coverage or other broadcast media coverage is tough. TV is a sought-after media medium and producers are extremely selective. However, if secured, TV coverage presents several benefits, including reaching large audiences and specific demographics that can sometimes otherwise be hard to reach. Plus, many company leaders like the exposure they receive as a result of television coverage.

So how do you get your business on TV? Use these the following steps to ensure success when working with your local TV markets.

Steps 1: Establish What Type of Coverage You Want
Before doing anything, make sure you know what type of coverage you’d like to secure. Many local TV stations have morning, mid-morning and noon shows that feature a variety of “lifestyle” guests. The audiences and demographics of these shows differ, so make sure to know who you’re looking to target. If you’re wanting something a little more casual, such as promoting an event or showing different types of gift ideas, this is likely the type of show you would want to target. But there are also segments that cover more hard-hitting materials, such as how to protect your identity when shopping online, that can establish an executive from your company as an industry leader. Or, maybe your company’s leadership can provide expert commentary to a national-news based story. These type of stories usually work best for the evening shows – 5, 6, 10 and 11pm.

Step 2: Do Your Research
Once you identify the type of local news coverage that you want to secure, do some research on the TV station. Watch their shows and check out video segments online. Look for what topics they usually cover and how their guest segments usually work. This will give you better insight when pitching specific producers.

Next, do your research on who you should contact. If you’re looking for a specific guest segment on a show, contact the producer of that show. But, if you don’t know who that is, contacting an executive producer at the station is usually the best bet.

If you’re looking to secure coverage as part of a news segment, especially something that can be pre-recorded versus something live, contact the assignment editor/manager. They handle the schedules of all reporters and videographers, so they’re essentially the “gatekeeper” when it comes to media coverage. You can also contact them about guest segments and they’ll help refer you to the right producer to get in contact with.

Step 3: Customize Your Pitch
Now that you know who to contact, make sure to craft your pitch in a way that addresses the needs and expertise of that particular contact. Establish the type of segment or commentary you’re pitching and make sure it is tailored to that particular show’s audience. Ensure in your email or via phone to the producer that you know what types of guests they usually have on air and explain how you would fit in well with his or her show.

Step 4: Present a Visual
If there’s a “secret ingredient” that TV producers love, it’s anything visual. And if it can be interactive — that’s even better! Unless your company spokesperson is a celebrity in their own right, no one wants an interview with someone just sitting and talking.

In your pitch, include different props you can bring to show off or different activities you can do during the interview. Anything that can involve the anchors is best! For example, if you want to pitch a segment about to lose weight in the new year, a sit-down interview will likely fall flat. It would be better to have someone to demonstrate different exercises and show different types of food to make. An even better hook? Pitch the same idea, but suggest also inviting the anchor to participate in some partner exercises and try their hand at making a healthy meal themselves (with ingredients and instruction from you, of course).  

During your pitch, it’s best to list what your topic will be. Then list what type of visual and interactive elements the pitch will include. Often, when pitching via email, I will put something in the subject line like: “Healthy Meals for the New Year: VISUAL!” This will grab the producer’s attention and you will stand out from other people pitching similar ideas or segment ideas that aren’t as visual.

Step 5: Make Sure Your Spokesperson is On-Air Ready
Now, you have the segment booked. What’s next? Prepare! Ensure whoever will be on air is comfortable being on camera, is articulate, and knows about the topic they’re speaking on. It’s best to provide briefing notes to both the producer of the show and the representative that will be on-air. Briefing notes should include specifics like:

  • Arrival time and on-air time
  • Length of the segment
  • Location of the segment, including building access and parking instructions
  • Questions the reporter might ask and proposed answers to those questions
  • Visual elements in a list form
  • Call to action (visit our website, call this number, etc.)
  • Information about your company/event/etc. (phone number, website, address, etc.)
  • Information about the media outlet, specific show and reporter they’ll be talking with. If possible, include links to previous, similar segments

By providing these to the on-air representative, he or she will be prepared for the segment and make the company look great! These points are also helpful for the producer as they’re putting together the show, and for the anchor, as they’re prepping for the interview. Your media contacts can even use the information when sharing the clip online. The easier you can make their jobs, the more likely they are to have you back on the show. This is a win/win for both you and the media outlet!

Television is a great medium to get your message across to a broad audience and can even help to bolster your image as a thought leader in your space. Make sure you know what kind of coverage you’re after, do your research, customize your pitch and think visually. Then, make sure everyone in front of and behind the camera is prepared. This will ensure maximum success when pitching local television media.

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About Allyson Johnson

Allyson is an account manager with a background in PR and broadcast news, and also has her accreditation in public relations (APR) from the Universal Accreditation Board. She has a passion for planning television segments and working with startups. She has secured coverage for her clients in Forbes, Inc., HuffPost, Business Insider, and TV stations across the country. When she's not working, you'll likely find Allyson at a racetrack (she's been drag racing since she was 7-years-old!), or playing with her black Labrador Retriever rescue, Max.

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