MEDIA PROFILE - Finding the latest trend for 'Good MorningAmerica'. Every publicist wants their client/product on 'Good MorningAmerica.' But as Craig McGuire reports, your best bet is to present ahot pop culture trend and be persistent

Producers at ABC's Good Morning America (GMA) have been busy for

weeks preparing a number of segments to coincide with the upcoming

execution of Oklahoma City Bomber Timothy McVeigh. Newsworthy, timely

and of interest to a broad audience, the story has all the attributes

GMA producers crave.

Meanwhile, GMA nailed its highest ratings of the year in April for an

interview with President Bush. Producers were further delighted when

segments of the interview, in which the president commented on relations

with China, made their way into scores of media outlets around the


Most clients don't possess McVeigh's infamy or the sheer star power of

the President of the US. But there are still ways to grab a spot on the


'New, new, new, it's just got to be new,' says GMA executive producer

Shelley Ross. 'We're looking for the latest buzz, hot pop culture

trends, medical breakthroughs, new consumer items - and we love great

visuals and great wit.'

From the tragedy at Littleton, CO, to 'Losing Weight With Good Morning

America,' GMA leads with a hard news intro, later tempered with more

light-hearted lifestyle and human interest-style features.

Approaching its 27th year, GMA received a much-needed makeover in early

1999 to bolster ratings, outfitting the show with a new set, new song,

and Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer as the new co-anchors. Airing

weekdays from 7am to 9am, they've got plenty of airtime to stock.

'We coordinate a tsunami wave of information,' says Ross. 'But, we don't

want to miss one new hot thing.'

Important for many publicists, product placements aren't exactly a high

priority for GMA producers, though they are not out of the question


'It can't be a straight plug, there has to be news value there,'

explains Ross. 'It must be a new product, something they've never seen


And, it must be something that will help you, change your life or make

some aspect of life more efficient.'

With its immense audience, GMA's senior team of eight professionals has

to digest a torrent of pitches - the majority of which cross the desk of

Sue Carswell, story editor. Story meetings are held at least once a


Plan carefully before you pick up the phone. Ross, though open to most

techniques, is steadfastly against pitching via voice-mail. 'As much as

I would love to, I can't respond to them,' she says.

Patience is a virtue, especially when you're pitching a high-profile

show like GMA. 'Persistence will pay off if you've got a great story,'

says Ross.

GMA producers sometimes find themselves at the mercy of larger news

cycles, like the upcoming McVeigh execution, or just inundated with

multiple flavors of the same story type.

'I'll look at the story grid and see there are several hot movies

released at the same time,' says Ross. 'Then it starts to not feel like

our show.

Where's our hard news? Where's our medical? Unfortunately, sometimes we

have to turn something down for scheduling.'

Patience and a product or client with broad appeal will give you the

best shot of garnering a spot on GMA. While the show doesn't

specifically target any particular demographic consistently, Ross says

they develop features and touch all demographics at least once a


Russell Watson was one such guest that hit on multiple cylinders. Last

month, the young opera singer with Universal Classic Records from

Manchester, England visited the show prior to making his American


'Two years ago he was working in a factory and singing in karaoke bars,'

says Ross. 'These days his CD went triple platinum in London, and he's

battling Madonna on the charts.'

The morning of the show, the record company took out a full-page ad in

USA Today trumpeting the appearance. 'We absolutely love to get 'As seen

on GMA' plugs,' says Ross.

'We're in morning hand-to-hand combat,' Ross says. 'That's why we need

to appeal to our audience and stay ahead of the trends.' Having gained

ground against NBC News' Today in the ratings, GMA leads CBS News' Early


Therefore, GMA needs great pitches just as much as the publicists need

placements. Says Ross: 'It's a wonderful tango we dance together.'


Good Morning America

Address: ABC News 'Good Morning America,' 147 Columbus Ave., NY, NY


Tel: (212) 456-5900

Executive Producer: Shelley Ross

Story editor: Sue Carswell.

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