Morning shows are a great way to target female audiences, but it's hard to stand out.
One of the best ways to get your product out to millions of moms all at the same time is to have Katie Couric, with her fans waving behind her, rave about your product on NBC's Today show. Morning shows like Today, ABC's Good Morning America, and CBS' The Early Show are just about the easiest way to hit this demographic - that is, if you can get your client, product, or company one of the much-coveted spots.
Landing these spots requires pitching your client to a morning show producer, a person who is not so easy to track down and even harder to convince that your product is worth those precious morning show minutes. "We totally disregard about 95% of the thousands of pitches that come into us every day," says Katie Boyle, senior broadcast producer of The Early Show.
David Bloom of Bloom Public Relations in Fort Lauderdale, FL, notes that pitching to one of these shows involves a very specific process. "It requires finding someone you can communicate with once you have researched the show that will best fit your product," says Bloom. "It is important that you are giving them something that will fit into their format."
The most successful pitches involve highly personalized spots that are specific to the show they are pitching and the format of that show. Once you have found the perfect fit, it is more appropriate to make first contact via e-mail than a phone call. But e-mails should be brief and to the point. "Avoid lengthy e-mail pitches and bulleting," he says. "The e-mail shouldn't be more than a few sentences or paragraphs; you can get more in-depth with the follow-up phone call."
To maximize the chances that your product will land in the hands of Diane Sawyer or her colleagues on Good Morning America (including current sometimes co-host Barbara Walters) is to have a product that offers something unique to the viewers. Brad Ferris, VP of media relations at Ketchum, was approached by The Clorox Co. to represent Clorox Disinfecting Wipes. "We came up with the idea of finding the 'germiest jobs in America,'" says Ferris. "We provided GMA with swabbing kits to see how germy their office was and to illustrate the use of the wipes." This hands-on format allowed the cast of GMA to show the audience the product in action and gave the cast members a chance to really participate in the spot. They even swabbed Walters' office, giving her a bit of a shock.
This spot was a big hit with the staff at GMA and with the client. "Just hearing interest from Good Morning America in a story is exciting, but to watch as one of the country's most respected and honored broadcast journalists, Barbara Walters, actually covers the story is another thing altogether," says Mary O'Connell, director of PR at The Clorox Co. "The GMA segment was incredible."
It is important to provide producers with everything they will need for the story. You should include visual elements, such as VNRs and b-roll, as well as provide them with someone whom they can interview - normally an expert on the subject.
"We like it when a PR person tailors their pitch to our show, suggesting an anchor who'd be good for the spot. Including newspaper and magazine clips about the product [is also] very helpful," says Boyle of The Early Show. "A good PR professional thinks like a reporter," she adds. "They know what is newsworthy on a national and international level."
When it comes to getting your product on the broadcast morning shows, it is all about standing out from the crowd, making an impression, and being able to produce a segment that will fit into the already existing format of the show. "It comes down to who you are offering and what you are offering," says Bob Brody, SVP and media specialist in the healthcare practice at Ogilvy Public Relations. "If you have something surprising that runs counter to what everyone else is saying, that is a plus."
Try to have an expert or celebrity who can add to the allure of your product
Follow up as quickly as possible after your initial pitch
Make sure that all multimedia materials are in the correct format
Get discouraged. The amount of time it takes for a pitch varies depending on the newsworthiness of the product
Try to pitch a product that is not appropriate for the show
Overstate the story or embellish when you pitch the idea