When business owners contact me to inquire about our PR services, just about all of them are interested in appearing on TV. However, they’re not sure whether this is possible without an advertising budget.
My answer to them is usually yes, it’s entirely possible to get TV exposure without paying for advertising. You just need to know what the producers are looking for.
My knowledge comes from not only running my PR agency WordStorm PR for 19 years but from working as a producer at A Current Affair before starting my business. I was contacted by all kinds of people wanting me to run a story on their business and observed that most people who pitched a story idea to me, had no idea what I was looking for in a story, therefore, failed to get cut through.
This is what sparked my idea to start a PR agency as I understood what journalists needed in a story in order for it to have the potential to be something that could be put to air.
The Difference between unpaid content and paid advertising
As with all media outlets, TV producers are thirsty for content. Whether it’s a morning TV program like Sunrise, Today or Studio 10, a current affairs program like A Current Affair, 60 Minutes or The Project or even the nightly news, the goal of TV producers is to run stories that will engage and/or add value to their audience.
TV programs have two distinct segments. The paid advertising side and the unpaid content side. TV programs cannot exist without one or the other. They don’t often overlap for the simple reason that nobody is going to tune into a TV program that they know is 100% made up of advertising content. It would be totally boring and unwatchable. Therefore producers are employed to produce stories that will be interesting to their current and potential audiences as the larger the audience base the more the network can charge the advertisers.
The reason that TV programs are great mediums to pitch your story to is that they often have hours to fill throughout the week. Morning TV programs are generally 3 hours long and that is a lot of airtime to fill on a daily basis. Current Affair programs run nightly therefore need a lot of content.
So with this in mind, how do you make your story interesting enough to be considered by a TV producer? Well, it’s important to have a clear idea about the angle that you’re pitching. It’s no good telling the producer that you’ve got the best business in the world so please produce a story about it.
They want to know why it will appeal to their audience, and how the story will entice their viewers to tune in and stay switched on.
Below are 5 angles that work really well in helping you get cut through and onto TV.
Useful angles for attracting media attention
1. Awareness days
There’s an awareness day just about every day, week or month of the year. TV producers strive to produce content around what people are talking about and what’s going on in the world.
If you can layer your expertise around a particular awareness day, then you have a good chance of getting cut through.
For example, we worked with Silvia Damiano who is a scientist, educator, author, speaker, coach and an award-winning leadership specialist. One area Silvia focuses on is the importance of sleep in order to lead a team effectively as well as have good self-leadership.
The First week of October is Sleep Awareness Week so we pitched Silvia to morning TV programs, to talk about the importance of sleep and leadership during sleep awareness week. This resulted in a great interview on Today Extra.
2. Case studies
A case study is someone who has greatly benefited from your product or service and they are willing to talk about it in the media and in this case on TV.
It’s far more powerful for a client whose life has been transformed by your service to talk about their story, than for you to get on TV saying you transform the lives of your clients.
An example is Dental Boutique a dental practice based in Melbourne offering dental procedures under general anaesthetic. They have a patient called Theresa whose life has dramatically improved because she was so scared of the dentist she hadn’t been in over ten years and her teeth and gums hence her smile was suffering because of it. She finally found Dental Boutique who fixed her dental issues and she came away with a brand new smile.
Theresa now has the confidence to make more money in her business (she is a real estate agent so smiling is important to develop rapport) and as she confesses, in her love life.
Theresa was willing to share her story on air so she was interviewed along with Dr Reuben Sim on Today Extra talking about the benefits of dental work under anaesthetic.
3. Thought leadership
Thought leadership is all about being the person who is willing to express your thoughts and about or involving your industry.
These thoughts could be opinions about what is happening in your industry, whether it’s a change of legislation or something else that’s going on. It could be talking about research that’s come out, something controversial that’s going on or simply giving your opinion around your topic of expertise.
The main thing to remember with thought leadership is that you should be pitching a topic that will be relevant to the particular audience of the TV program you’re pitching to.
For instance our client Jackson Millan AKA The Wealth Mentor wrote a book, in which one of the chapters was about identifying What Spender Type are you and the pitfalls to watch out for with each spender type. This angle got picked up by Studio 10 and Today Extra, as the producers know that their audience is interested in creating wealth and would relate to this topic.
Another example is Dominique Grubisa who heads up a wealth creation training business called DG Institute. The media are always talking about property and real estate so we regularly pitch her forward with a range of angles on this topic. As a result, she was featured on TV about 8 times last year and we’re hoping to blow that number out of the water this year.
Other things to consider when pitching your story to TV
TV is a visual medium first and foremost. When assessing whether a pitched idea will make a good story, the producer is generally thinking about the visuals that can be included in the story.
It would get pretty boring if story after story on the news, morning show or current affairs program was just what they call a ‘talking head’ which is the term for someone’s interview being filmed with a focus on their face. So think about different things that can be filmed and spell all of this out to the journalist – make their job as easy as possible. For example, if your story is about a childcare centre, let them know what activities they’ll be able to film as part of the story.
The other aspect of TV stories that are extremely important and this is the same with radio is that the people being interviewed on camera are good talent. This means they are able to talk eloquently on the topic they are being put forward to be interviewed about.
One word answers just won’t cut it when it comes to TV. It’s really important to prepare for your interview.
Be confident about the key messages you want to communicate and practice answering a range of questions before the interview. The analogy that I use is if you had the opportunity to give a presentation on stage where there could potentially be 5+ million people in the audience, would you just wing it? Chances are you wouldn’t.
Being interviewed for a TV audience is the same thing so why would you just wing it and not prepare exactly what you want to say? Media training goes a long way in preparing for a TV interview.
Over to you
So to sum up, no matter what your business there are likely to be angles you can come up with which will give you the potential to magnify your message on TV without paying for advertising.
The great thing is that if you’re good ‘talent’ the TV producer will remember you and ask you to come back in the future. If you follow the guidelines in this blog, you could be on your way to becoming the ‘go-to expert’ for your industry in the media. Not a bad goal to have for 2019.