Broadcast media generally have different priorities and operate under a different set of criteria than print and online media. A story must be more than just newsworthy – it must have a timely aspect.
Newsrooms live even more in the moment and are solely focused on what is happening within the next 24-48 hours. Successful broadcast media pitches are built on a foundation of the right media list, timing and pitching content and style.
Who to pitch
Create a media list and segment them appropriately:
- Talent bookers
- Assignment editors
When to send your pitch
The timing of your pitch is key, as morning shows and newsrooms operate quite differently.
In studio interviews:
As a general rule of thumb, it is optimal to pitch a reporter/producer/talent booker an hour after the show is wrapped up. Morning shows tend to book guests 2-4 weeks in advance. Once you pitch via email, wait about an hour or two and give them a call.
Events that require an onsite photographer:
Pitch a newsroom or assignment editor about an event about 1-2 days in advance. Wait to send the media alert until the day before and again on the day of the event. Newsrooms typically have daily 9:00am meetings, so time emailed pitches and calls to take place shortly beforehand.
What to include in your pitch
Depending on the nature of your pitch, don’t forget the following guidelines before you reach out to your contacts.
Do not send a press release to broadcast media. Turn your announcement into a media alert so that it can be easily scanned. Here are a few tips for creating media alerts:
- Stick to the who, what, when, where and why
- Highlight anything you feel is important or call it out in a very brief intro
- No attachments - copy and paste the media alert into the body of the email
To make your pitch stand out without creating a page long email, include the following:
- Visuals: any images that can help tell your story or that a reporter might want to use.
- Links to online videos: this can be videos about the product/news, or of the person you are pitching participating in any past media interviews at other TV stations
If you are pitching an event, send the media alert on the day of and then call right after so it’s at the top of their inbox. Ask if they plan to send anyone to the event and be sure to look out for them.
When on the phone with a producer or reporter, ask if they have a minute to chat about the pitch and give them a 15-second overview of the story angle. Once you have them on the hook, take the opportunity to discuss what they are interested in. Sometimes you will need to translate the story idea into one that will appeal to a more general/consumer audience.
Opportunities and considerations
- Remember to: confirm that an event will allow filming and alert the event point of contact to any expected media attendees.
- Due to budget cuts, TV outlets are less likely than ever before to send video photographers to events unless it is related to the main story of the day.
- In some cases you can supply B-roll video to get your event covered.
- If you book a morning show, you will most likely be asked to send photos or B-roll prior to the filming of the interview to show during the interview.
- Morning Shows: These can be either local or national, and there is a distinct division between news and lifestyle (hard news will come first and lifestyle follows). Local shows are often lifestyle focused so it’s good to tie your pitch to a show that airs on that affiliate network.
- If you can’t book a morning show, consider the following options:
- Weekend editions (start pitching on Thursdays)
- Overnight editions (these air late at night)
- Directly to the website (likely a separate staff)
- Affiliate service branch (place a story on a local outlet and then pitch the live story to a national producer at affiliate branch)
- If you are pitching local broadcast media, be sure the SME will be in town for the morning or the entire day for filming.
- Cameramen are called photographers (serious shortage of photographers in the industry right now).
- Some stations share cameramen and/or content.
- Newsrooms will never fully commit to cover an event.
- Breaking news will always take priority over your event.