Sometimes I’m shocked when people ask me, “Is it really worth getting booked on TV?” My answer is always “YES!” TV interviews are a great tool to gain exposure and promote your book, business, or message, but people tend to shy away from TV because it can be challenging to land a spot on air. The secret is knowing both the art and the hustle of booking yourself on TV in order to have success.
Recently I sat down with Samantha Jacobson on Instagram Live, a fellow media relations friend, former National TV producer, and now, the Founder and CEO of TenXPR to share our insights. Both Samantha and I are veteran National TV producers for CBS News among others (I was also a producer/booker for energyNOW! and Washington Post Live, Samantha for Oprah Winfrey Network, Entertainment Tonight, and CNN).
Are you ready to land your next TV interview like a pro? Here’s an overview of what we discussed:
- A: What do National TV producers look for in a guest?
- S: They look for experts that are able to talk in sound bites or are able to break down a subject matter for everyday people to understand. Sometimes they want someone who has been published in print or has done some TV before. Local is a great start!
- A: How do you find news hooks that you can speak to and be the expert?
- S: If you want to be on a specific show, watch that show and see how it’s laid out. Chances are certain topics are at certain hours so you’re able to know which segment you can pitch yourself for. Think about how you can speak to the news cycle today, but think ahead, too.
- A: How do you write a pitch email particularly for National TV producers?
- S: You really need to catch their attention with a subject line of 68 characters or less. In the body of the email, lay out what the topic is, why you’re the expert and talking points, but get to it quickly. Don’t promote your product because your email will be deleted! Also include your contact info, including your phone number. If you do get a call, the quicker you respond, the more likely you’ll land the interview.
- A: What happens if you don’t get a response?
- S: Follow up! Don’t feel bad for emailing producers again because chances are they’re running around and sometimes they don’t catch emails the first time. I would even choose a new topic every week as a way to follow up.
- A: How do you recommend building relationships with members of the media?
- S: Remember that everyone is a person. Connect with the producer as a human by doing things like reaching out to compliment them on a piece they did, research recent topics they wrote about, and connect with them on LinkedIn.
- A: I always say that journalists hang out on Twitter, so follow them and DM them! As a publicist, I reach out to producers to see if they want help finding experts and that really reframes the conversation.
- S: Yes, that’s huge! Producers never get asked if they want help.
- A: What’s the best timeline when pitching National TV?
- S: Depends on what kind of show you’re pitching. If it’s a morning show you have to know what time their show is over. If it’s an evergreen story, you can pitch toward the end of the week. I usually pitch after 10am on Monday and I like to avoid Friday because that’s when producers are catching up on emails before they’re out the door.
- A: For evergreen pitches, I’ve found that it’s a good idea to pitch 2-3 months in advance. What are your insights?
- S: TV tries to stay ahead 4-6 weeks out at the least, some plan longer. Talk shows plan the whole season and leave holes for anything breaking. The Drew Barrymore Show for example probably has up until Christmas booked. Plus, the whole process takes longer anyway because if the producer likes your idea they still have to pitch it to their team, so it’s good to pitch as early as you can.
- A: Some people think that you have to pitch the anchors, but those aren’t the decision-makers! Who are the best people to pitch?
- S: Not the anchors! TV bookers, producers, and associate producers are the people looking for experts. I would not pitch the executive producer because they aren’t interested in the day-to-day. You want to pitch the booker or producers so they can take it to the executive producer and vouch for you.
- A: So, tell us a little bit about what you’re up to now!
- S: I started TenXPR, specifically booking experts on National and Local TV, and it’s been a lot of fun! I love booking subject matter, experts, businesses, and authors. Anyone who is interested in raising their profile and interested in getting booked on TV or just wants to learn more, direct message me on Instagram or go to my website, TenXPR.com!
- A: How have you seen the TV landscape change in recent years?
- S: Streaming is big and only getting bigger and a lot of younger people especially are cutting the cord. It’s exciting for us TV lovers because it gives us another avenue to book experts and help them get exposure, maybe even more than getting booked on regular cable TV!
- A: I agree and actually think the streaming audience will surpass cable! Plus, TV placements get you more bang for your buck because you typically get placed on TV, on the network’s streaming app, and in an adjacent article online. What do you do after you get placed on TV?
- S: I would definitely share it on all your social media channels and I would tag the outlet!
CLICK HERE to watch the full IG LIVE with Ashley + Samantha!