by Alfred Cox*
Have someone you want to be a guest on a nationally-broadcast television show? Then there are a lot of things to keep in mind when you’re pitching producers. Last week I attended PRSA-NY’s Meet the Media: National Broadcast event that brought together four producers of national broadcast programs to give their advice to public relations pros.
The panelists were:
Tommy Crudup, senior talent executive at Rachael Ray
Todd Polkes, coordinating producer at The Meredith Vieira Show
Shira Sky, host and executive producer at HuffPost Live
Cheryl Strick, director of talent relations at Talk Stoop
Here are some highlights from the event.
On how they’d like to be pitched
All panelists agreed that they want to be pitched by email. Crudup said no phone follow-ups – they won’t respond at all. Polkes wants email pitches that include links and/or clips of potential guests on shows of similar formats, and Sky requested that the most pertinent info go in the subject line as well as a bio and links to interviews.
The panelists also discussed some no-nos: don’t, said Crudup, send a three-page pitch, and don’t tell producers what they should talk about; that’s their decision. Sky doesn’t want to have to ask to describe what you’re trying to pitch, and if she has to Google, she’s not a happy camper. Strick doesn’t want to hear just about what a guest is doing now, she wants to hear what they’ve done in the past.
Perhaps most important is that you know the show and their audience. Know the kinds of guests the show has had in the past, and stay up-to-date with what they’re doing.
Crudup says since they’re a new show, they are looking to book exclusive guests, but their most important criteria is that a guest is fun. On the other hand, Sky says they don’t like exclusives and that they want people who resonate with their audience and have a lot of talent. For taped shows, exclusives aren’t always an optin, Strick acknowledges, but the guest must be someone big or represent something big.
On paid spokespersons
Of the panelists, only Strick’s show accepts paid integration, but she stressed it must be organic and related to Talk Stoop. Sky said they have no regulations about paid spokespersons, but they do have a “resource wall” where they will plug websites or links you bring, but they will not post products.
Crudup and Polkes both said no to paid spokespersons, though Polkes said they will mention a campaign but not a product, as that’s too much advertising.
On social media
All panelists agreed that social media is an integral part of the show’s success, and that it’s just as crucial for guests to be active social media participants as well. Sky says that community and fan engagement is huge for their show, so a guest with a large and/or devoted following is a huge bonus. Crudup wants guests with about two million social media followers and they expect the guest to tweet about the upcoming appearance.
Strick says they will personally tweet before the guest comes on, and Polkes says they can’t have a great show without social media and that tweets are essential to their ratings. So when you’re pitching, be sure to include how active a potential guest is on social media and highlight their influence and following in the initial pitch.
Bio: Alfred Cox is a rare commodity of a performer who combines a relentless drive to succeed with the ability to provide “first-person” touch to his clients, creating loyalty and repeat business. He has a hard-nosed work ethic in a results- driven environment and he is often called the “Network King.” Alfred has been in the PR industry for the past 18+ years and joined the BurrellesLuce team in 2011. Connect with him on Twitter: @shantikcox Facebook: BurrellesLuce LinkedIn: Alfred Cox