How to (and not to) Pitch

TV Reporters, Producers & Bookers

Media watchdog, media advocate and media educator are among the roles played by the Fair Media Council (, a Long Island based organization which offers programs throughout the year designed to empower citizens and groups in their interactions with media.  The biggest of these events was last week’s annual Connection Day.

The event featured 24 panels made up mostly of media professionals along with civic leaders and public relations practitioners.  Representing the publicist’s viewpoint, I joined a panel called “Pitching TV Reporters” which included Telemundo reporter Liz Gonzalez, RNN-TV & FIOS 1 news director Phil Corsentino, MY 9 News VP & news director Jim Driscoll, Chris Collora of New York 1, along with adroit moderator Patrick Halpin of the Institute for Student Achievement.

Among the takeaways:

· Find the right person at the TV outlet to pitch (and spell their name right!)

· Pitch by email and make the subject line and opening sentence strong.

· Remember that TV is visual medium, but don’t forget that it’s the STORY that sells.

· Make sure the reporter is cleared to enter the property has a convenient place to park, has credentials if needed and alert security that TV is coming.

· Arrange for interviewees, prep them towards avoiding long rambling responses and alert them to the type of interview they will be in.

· Don’t just line-up experts and CEOs, bring “regular” people into story that are affected by the story.

· TV resources are stretched thin with fewer people to fill the same amount of news hours.   Provide the reporter with all the story elements needed including, guests, props, and pertinent video to enable them to do their job as efficiently as possible.

· TV coverage can be intrusive–multiple vehicles may arrive (early or late or not at all) the TV truck may need to park in a particular location to get a signal out, cable may need to be run, a quiet location may need to be secured.  The publicist should make sure management is supportive of having TV on site, and sees that the benefits of TV coverage outweigh any inconveniences.

· Spanish language TV is growing—don’t forget to pitch Telemundo and Univision and find someone on the staff fluent in Spanish to be available as spokesperson.

· Don’t oversell-a good story sells itself.

· Under promise and over deliver!

And one more takeaway—I surveyed a select group of TV reporters, producers and bookers for their advice on how to pitch a TV story.  Their insights are detailed below or use this link How-to-and-not-to-pitch-TV-Reporters