Booking clients on morning TV shows – whether national, local, network, or cable – can provide a boost in brand awareness and even sales, as well as lead to new opportunities. But securing a slot on one of these shows requires research and significant relationship building for the PR pros trying to break through for their clients.
“We're challenged every day to raise the bar in the way we present our segments,” says Patty Neger, a coordinating producer for Good Morning America (GMA). “It's television; [PR pros] have to think visually – we're going to offer this video, this interactive quiz, this whatever.”
Morning show producers agree that it is imperative for PR pros to watch and know the shows they are pitching. Neger says she and her colleagues often receive pitches requesting an interview with Matt Lauer, an anchor on GMA's competitor Today.
“We try to tell stories you're not going to see the mainstream media covering,” says Lauren Petterson, executive producer for Fox & Friends. By watching a show, PR pros can learn about the topics it covers, the preferences of the anchors, and the differences between the weekday and weekend versions, she explains.
Jean Ziliani, VP and senior media specialist for Ketchum, agrees. “I constantly research the show and the TV industry,” she says. She also tries to visit shows to meet with producers. Ketchum has placed clients like Ivanka Trump and Marcia Cross of Desperate Housewives on morning shows.
Publicists at Planned Television Arts (PTA), the media placement arm of Ruder Finn, also keep track of producers via Twitter, RSS Feeds, and Google Alerts. The agency has placed clients including author Jessica Valenti (The Purity Myth), radio show host Delilah, and radio and TV personality Dr. Drew on both national and local shows.
“We like to work with the client to create a pitch that is consumer-friendly,” says Kristin Clifford, VP at PTA Satellite, which focuses on SMTs. “News you can use, and that can work on either a local or national level, or both.”
Petterson and Neger both say e-mail is the preferred contact method. However, Santina Leuci, senior editorial producer for GMA, also highlights the importance of the occasional face-to-face interaction when pitching morning shows.
“Then we can start a relationship,” she says. “They know what our show wants and what we are looking for.”
Learn about the show by watching it, as well as following it online and by building relationships with producers
Be smart about pitches; include ideas for visuals and videos, and make sure the pitch and client is newsworthy
Pitch something that does not fit with the culture and feel of the show
Mislead a producer by pitching a paid celebrity spokesperson instead of the actual client, or by letting him or her believe the show has an exclusive