Are you ready to learn the truth about pitching to a TV Producer?
I’ve worked in television for almost 15 years on some of the top rated shows; Dr. Phil, Oprah, Tyra Banks, MTV and BET. I’ve gotten countless pitches from countless publicists and I’ve ignored my fair share.
Well the reason is simple – so many publicists get it wrong when it comes to pitching to television producers. Too harsh? Only sort of.
The relationship between publicists and producers should be symbiotic. We both benefit from working together. But most producers are frustrated with the way publicists pitch and find it easier to hit the delete button. My goal is to change that by sharing with you the best way to pitch your client, brand or products so you get results.
The first thing you need to understand, and this is the most important thing to keep in mind before you even hit “compose new email,” is the life of a TV Producer. We. Are. Crazy. On average we work sixty to eighty hours a week. We live in a world of constant demands, quick turnarounds and high expectations. We rarely get a day off and we always feel the pressure to compete with other shows. There is always a fire to put out and celebrity to find. Sound familiar? So you can understand that we don’t have time to read an entire email or pitch. We need Cliff Notes and bullet points. Plus, we’re crazy. So there’s that.
The first thing you need to understand…is the life of a TV Producer.
The second thing you should keep in mind is we get pitches constantly. Within a span of an hour, I have 80 new pitches on top of the 60 new emails that just rolled in. I don’t care about your inverted pyramid of information. Start with less at top… or less overall.
The third thing to keep in mind is that TV producers speak our own language. We are visual creatures and need to “see” a segment to decide if it will work or if it’s worth a phone call.
Here are some additional hacks/tips that will break through the crazy and get your clients live on air.
Pitch your client as an expert
Think about what your client can offer as advice, tips or trends in fashion that will appeal to the average viewer. Can they talk about how this year’s runway trends are showing up in everyday fashion? Can they show the audience how to save hundreds of dollars on handbags? If so, pitch that as the segment first, and then the bio of your client and any related product information.
Here’s a great hack: If trying to get placement for a product, try reaching out to relevant experts that frequent the show you are pitching. Pitch them your product first, and ask if they might be willing to use it in their next segment. My favorite experts are the ones who are self-containing and bring their products with them. So linking up with fashion, consumer products, parenting experts etc will help you gain the attention of the producer.
I don’t care about your inverted pyramid of information. Start with less at top… or less overall.
Show me the video
Before you pitch your client for TV, have some sort of video featuring your client – we need to evaluate how they show up. If they’ve done other segments, great! Unless it’s from a decade ago, add a link to the pitch. If they haven’t been on television in the last five years then you develop a short video of them speaking about their area of expertise in a consumer-friendly way. It doesn’t need to be hi-tech, a video shot on a computer or phone can work.
TV producers…are visual creatures and need to “see” a segment to decide if it will work or if it’s worth a phone call.
We don’t want to produce your fashion show
If you’re thinking about a fashion show segment as your demo, don’t. That’s the easiest and least creative way to do a fashion segment. Instead, think of a way to show-and-tell what your client or product is about in a way that is going to capture audience interest. If you represent a sunglass company, try pitching “How to choose the perfect sunglasses for your face.” You could have models that show the different looks. Or pitch “Celebrity Sunglasses for Less” if that’s a client fit.
Make your pitch a headline
Create a catchy and clear name for the segment you are pitching. Examples are segments like “Wear This Not That,” “Classic Looks for your 30s, 40s, & 50s” or “Fashion Finds Already in Your Closet.”
Pitch stories, not companies
Trust me on this one. Stop pitching your client, company or product. Start pitching segments, stories and integrations. Building your clients into the segment will increase the chances of them getting booked. Producers want content, not guests.
About Gyllian Carter
Gyllian Carter is a 5 time Emmy award winning tv producer.
Want more tips on pitching your clients to television producers? Check out The PR Pitch Clinic hosted by Gyllian Carter. The PR Pitch Clinic is a hands-on workshop class that allows you to pitch your clients, brands & products directly to Emmy award winning television producers. The June 17 event will include Heather Gray, executive producer of The Talk; Marc Anthony Nicolas, Sr. Producer of The Talk; Tyra Martin, Entertainment Producer of WGN Chicago; Arlene Wilkinson, TV Producer who helped launch Steve Harvey, Anderson Cooper, and Katie Couric.