Admit it. You’re the person watching cable at night thinking to yourself, “Why are they interviewing that guy? I could do a better job, they should talk to me!”
If you are that person – keep reading. If you’re not, I bet you know someone who is, so keep reading, too.
Breaking into the media has never been easy. And in these tumultuous times, it’s actually more challenging than ever to stand out! The competition is fierce – everyone is positioning themselves as commentators and they’re pitching producers left and right just to land that coveted guest spot on TV (with hopes of landing another, and another, and another). I should know – I run a business based on this very thing.
If hiring a publicist to do this work for you isn’t an option, consider these five tips for breaking into the media:
1. Make sure your website & social media is up-to-date. Sounds simple enough, but you’d be surprised how many people let these areas go by the wayside. Your website and Twitter feed are your calling cards – if you haven’t updated your site from Word Press and/or haven’t tweeted since 2015 – you’re not current. Update your web presence to be current, and look sleek, as the first step towards having producers consider you in the booking process.
2. Figure out who you are. You’ve heard the term “branding,” right? Now it’s time to brand yourself. And once you do that … tell me what substantiates you being an expert in A, B or C. Put those bio credits front and center on your website. Think of it like this — if you’re a producer, why would they want to book you as the guest on this segment as versus the hundreds of others out there who want the spot?
3. Have an opinion. And a provocative one, at that. Cable news isn’t the Associated Press. It’s all about the opinions (supported by facts). Don’t tell me the reason 5,000 other people think about a certain issue. Develop your own unique point of view.
4. Get cozy with producers. You can do this without the aide of a PR firm (although it is much more challenging). Start following producers on Twitter. Interact with them in a smart, meaningful way (not “hey @cnnproducer, can you put me on the air?”). Connect on LinkedIn. Also, it’s easy to get their emails in a simple Google search. When you’re ready, reach out with a smart and timely pitch. And by all means, keep it short!
5. Be patient. Breaking into TV news takes time. Becoming a regular go-to takes months, if not years! In the meantime, write blogs, stay active on social media, work on your business that supports your expertise and try to stay relevant. All of this will help ingratiate you with producers and turn you into the TV star you were born to be!
Annie Scranton is Founder and President of Pace Public Relations, a full-service media relations and communications agency based in New York City. A seasoned television producer, Annie spent eight years working at major networks, including CNN, Fox News, CNBC, MSNBC, and ABC. Acting as a guest booker for these various networks, Annie’s brand of public relations combines her unique understanding of behind-the-scenes television with her unparalleled list of contacts.