She says she knows it sounds like a cheesy movie, but Erin Saxton
swears that a little over a year ago, she woke up at 2 am with a
business plan in her head and a dream in her heart.
Saxton was working as a producer on Barbara Walters' morning talk show,
The View, and had complained to her husband the night before that she
was sick of getting 30 pitches a week, most of which were unusable.
"One night at dinner, I said to my husband there has to be someone out
there who can teach these people what producers are looking for," says
Saxton. "I wrote out the business plan on a piece of paper, and two days
later I gave notice at The View."
Saxton's early-morning business plan is the now year-old Idea Network, a
media and PR agency that specializes in getting its clients on
television and radio. As a former producer for other daytime shows
including The Rosie O'Donnell Show and Good Morning America, Saxton
trades on her insider status and her years of experience on the other
side of the PR pitch. She says 90% of her current pitches are
"What I'm trying to do is create a new kind of agency where I work with
PR people to complement their campaigns," says Saxton. "PR agencies can
outsource to me. Because of my connections and my experience, I can save
them time and get results."
Saxton works with numerous PR firms including beauty agency Lippe Taylor
and publishing industry boutique Kkrup Kommunications and service firms
such as Celebrities Plus.
Saxton brokered a placement for Angie Harmon, who represented a Pfizer
dog medicine on The View and The Today Show and negotiated an appearance
for Everybody Loves Raymond's Doris Roberts, a spokesperson for an
AstraZeneca drug for acid reflux. Roberts appeared on The View, Inside
Edition and B Smith.
In addition to working for other PR firms, the Idea Network itself is
the PR agency for Warner Books' Chicken Soup for the Soul Enterprises,
which came to Saxton with a challenge.
"Chicken Soup for the Soul Enterprises said they had never booked
themselves on a national show," says Saxton, who explains that people
didn't realize there were consecutive books in the series. "We picked
four or five and I've gotten them a national hit for every book I've
worked on. Now I work with them for pretty much every title they're
doing outreach for."
Glenn Davish, a producer at The View, says Saxton has an innate sense of
what will work on television. Davish worked with Saxton for a year at
"She gets what segment producers do," says Davish. "That's an incredible
help to producers, especially in live television." Davish says clients
should consider Saxton's ideas, even when they sound like, well,
"She pitched an idea one time about stinky feet when she was here at The
View," says Davish, who adds that the concept was poorly received at a
production meeting but Saxton convinced her bosses to let her try it
Saxton booked a expert guest who knew the subject might be treated
irreverently by a show with a stand-up comedian co-host, Joy Behar. But
the expert was prepared to both answer questions and be made fun of.
Davish says it was Saxton's choice of expert that made the show a hit.
"People laughed and had a good time, it was informative, and it fit the
tenor of our show," says Saxton.
Davish adds: "She knows all the shows out there - Today, Good Morning
America, The Early Show, Oprah - and watches them to see what they do so
when she pitches, she hits the nail right on the head."
Michael Catalano, president of Celebrities Plus, says he uses Saxton for
TV pitches, and other services such as securing talent, creating SMTs
and VNRs, as well as radio news releases. He says he works with her on a
third of his company's business. "She has a terrific rolodex of
contacts," he says.
Saxton says her business has quadrupled in the past year and she has
just hired her first employee, Jennifer Urezzio, away from client, Lippe
Taylor. Saxton says her third employee won't be far behind because of
the volume of work the agency has.
To anyone worried that Saxton will lose her edge after a year away from
The View, she assures them she'll forever retain her insider status.
"I'm still very much into TV development," says Saxton, who helped
produce a Barbara Walters Oscar special this past March. "If I call a
show where I don't know anyone, I tell them I am a producer and tell
them about my background. I'll ask all the basic PR questions, and I'll
get the answers. I catch people on off days just like everyone else, but
after 10 years of media, people know my name or the names of the shows
I've worked on and that gets doors open for me and my clients."
Senior production associate, The Barbara Walters Specials
Head talent researcher, The Rosie O'Donnell Show
Producer and researcher, WBIS Morning Show, Dow Jones/ITT
Producer, The View, ABC/Barbara Walters
Founder and president, The Idea Network