How to Pitch Yourself for TV Appearances
Many of my clients are interested in landing TV appearances when they start working with me. However, I often find that the types of things they want to go on TV and discuss don’t necessarily fit with the shows they’ve mentioned as targets.
If you’ve decided to pitch yourself for television instead of hiring a publicist or PR agency, here’s the strategy I used to successfully get myself on TV (which started with a guest appearance on a regional network and led to a weekly segment and then a job offer from ESPN!) . . .
Know your audience
If you already have a show in mind, the most important thing is to know the audience. How old are they? Are they predominantly male or female? Do they work, and if so, what kind of jobs do they have?
Now ask yourself: is that the right audience for me or my business?
If you don’t have a specific show in mind yet, then think about who you need to have in the audience in order to achieve your goals. For example, if you sell a product, who is it meant for or who typically purchases it?
Watch the show
After you understand who watches the show, start watching it yourself. I can’t emphasize this enough. One of the biggest pet peeves talent bookers have expressed to me is that they’re constantly pitched ideas that are clearly not a good fit for the show.
You can usually find past guest segments on the network’s website. Pay attention to the types of topics they cover. If you see someone who seems similar to you, make note of the segments they’ve done so you don’t pitch the exact same thing.
And if you don’t see anyone even remotely similar to you, that could be a problem. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve come up with something unique – it could simply mean your topic isn’t a good one for that particular show’s demographic. That’s why the research in the first step is so important.
Be a teacher
Once you’ve chosen a show and determined that it seems like a good fit, start brainstorming ideas that fit the demographic and content of the show. Narrow down your list by focusing on topics that teach the audience something. Producers love pitches that demonstrate your segment will give the audience actionable advice they can act upon immediately.
One of my clients went on TV recently, and we got her topic idea from a coffee mug. Seriously.
The mug said “Don’t confuse my medical degree with your Google search.” She posted a photo of it on social media, and people reacted quite negatively – they thought it was condescending, when it was only meant to make the point that sometimes the internet leads you to believe the worst about your medical condition.
The best topics come from FAQs and real-life interactions with your clients/customers. We were able to pitch a segment where she explained which sites are credible for your medical research, some caveats for any research you do online on diseases, and pointers on when you know it’s time to visit your doctor and how to address your concerns about what you found online.
All that from a coffee mug!
Write a compelling pitch
After you’ve done the research and laid out a solid strategy, it’s time to contact those talent bookers and producers! If you’re not sure who to get in touch with for a show, simply call the station and ask who books guests for the show – this isn’t usually difficult information to obtain. I always pitch by email first, so I also ask for their email address.
When you write your pitch, write a great tease for your topic (bonus points if you can tie it into something in the news cycle), explain exactly what the audience will gain from the segment (which also demonstrates you did your homework and know the demographic) and position yourself as the right person to deliver this content to the audience.
If you follow this process as I’ve laid out, I think you’ll see a solid success rate when you pitch yourself for TV appearances.
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