Know Your Story
Ask yourself: “What information or story can I share with a TV audience?” “It’s about providing useful information to the show’s viewers, not flogging your company or product,” explains Carol Panasiuk, executive vice-president and general manager of Cohn & Wolfe, a Toronto-based PR agency.
“TV is a visual medium, so we’re much more enthused about guests who can show rather than just tell,” says Jonathan Lynn, producer of the Daytime Toronto talk show. If you’re a fitness equipment maker, offer to demonstrate a home-gym workout; if you’re a clothing designer, put on a fashion show.
Find the Right Show
Don’t waste your energy or the producer’s by lobbying for time on a show that does not dovetail with your product, expertise or target audience. For example, a local lifestyle show isn’t looking for stock-market commentary.
E-Mail, Don’t Call
Producers lead hectic work lives. Unless you’re offering yourself as a source on a breaking story, send your pitch via e-mail. Use a descriptive subject line and, in just a few paragraphs, “Tell us your story and why it’s of interest to our viewers,” advises producer Wendy Clarke of A-Channel Morning, a Victoria news and talk show.
Consider Your Timing
The more frequent a show, the shorter its lead times. But if your story is evergreen or seasonal, pitch it a month in advance.
TV appearances come few and far between. You need to be prepared and make yourself available if a producer calls on just hours’ notice. If you don’t accept the offer, someone else will.