Nov 28, 2011

Is Your Story Right for Daytime TV?

Most PR professionals have had the boss (or client) that wants to see their story on featured on big name day time talk shows.  There’s no question that mass media is still very effective, and here at MultiVu we hear these requests all the time, whether for air time on TV, national radio or the via the top 100 blogs for a particular segment.  This is always tricky, especially when dealing with a boss (or client) that is convinced their news is the most important of the day, and is convinced that teams from The Today Show or Oprah are lining up to interview him or her. Unfortunately, as most PR pros know, daytime TV only offers a finite number of interview opportunities, from Good Morning America to 20/20 and topics have to be relevant to each show’s format, and also of interest to their specific audience.  Herein is the problem, and following is our advice for determining whether or not a daytime slot is a good fit for your story.

A recent Beyond PR blog post titled “Getting on Daytime TV Talk Shows” broke down the format at Good Morning America.  Each show has its own format, and finding the best fit for the interview or demo you’re pitching is where you need to start.  Good Morning America, for example, is broken down into four sections:

  • •7 to 7:30 a.m. is the news half hour, covering the hard news of the day — timely, breaking news.
  • •7:30 to 8 a.m. is informational. Features have to be “buzzy” and visual (video, lots of pictures). For example, in late summer, they recently interviewed a doctor regarding the heat wave hitting various parts of the country. Rather than interviewing the doctor in the studio, they interviewed him in a sauna. At the beginning of the interview, they weighed him and took his vitals, and then compared them to his weight and vitals after being in the sauna. This helped them explain to viewers what happens to a body in extreme heat. “We are always trying to find visual ways to tell the story,” said Patty Neger, a coordinating producer on the show. “We are television. We don’t want talking heads. We’re always looking for a ‘television moment’ – what people will be talking about after the show.” Here is the opportunity to pitch a story idea, which should be an in studio opportunity, offering compelling content and visuals and an adept spokesperson. Remember, appeal to the audience.
  • •8 to 9 a.m. is hip, fun, visual entertainment – e.g., a fashion show featuring twins, one wearing a “splurge” item and the other wearing a “knockoff.” The anchors then try to guess which one is wearing which. This is a second opportunity to pitch a story – geared towards those who may still be home at 8am in the morning, or those surfing online later in the day – a good fit for a fun feature story.

The outline above shows that there is a maybe an hour and a half of air time, actually after commercials you can estimate an hour for interview opportunities, apply this across all daytime programming, and you are looking at maybe 5 hours of opportunity daily, for specific audiences. Now think of the hundreds of pitches each show receives daily and you can see that your story truly has to be of value to the outlet you are pitching.

Alternatives to daytime TV may be a better fit for your story – and audience.

So, what if you do have a story worth telling, but have been rejected by the top talk shows, how do you begin to get publicity for your client? Most importantly, identify who your audience is for this story. Are moms the focus? Then think about pitching parenting bloggers who are always looking for content.  Do you have a medical story? Don’t discount TV outlets that air in doctors’ waiting rooms. Travel? Think of all the screens at the airports, a captive audience for your information. Do you have a regional story to tell? Consider focusing on the smaller markets where your topic is of interest specifically.

There are many times when national exposure on daytime TV may be appropriate, but for others a more strategic and focused approach may be best and provide the most solid ROI for your project. Many outlets and opportunities for distribution exist that can upon discovery and counsel from your distribution partner can lead to a targeted strategy that truly delivers results.

Author Bev Yehuda is Vice President – Web Engagement Products for MultiVu, a PR Newswire Company.  MultiVu specializes in multimedia production and distribution.

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