PR Tips For Securing A TV Segment

In PR, broadcast pitching is sometimes underused and overlooked when it comes to securing coverage for clients. From national outlets like CNN, Fox Business or the Today show to local affiliates, a solid broadcast segment can make a lasting impact. Broadcast segments typically have a large and high-quality reach in real time, and they live online and are searchable thereafter. Most PR teams will amplify segments on social media for further exposure.

When pitching broadcast outlets it’s important to note the main differences between the medium and print, and to offer producers the information the need for potential segments. Here are some top PR tips for scoring top broadcast stories.

Make it relevant

No matter what you’re pitching, to gain a producer’s attention, the subject matter must be topical and newsworthy. Pay attention to the news cycle and breaking stories – can you tie your client into a relevant headline? You may be able to use a current topic in the news cycle for your client/brand, but bear in mind that a spokesperson must be ready to open their schedule for a segment on short notice. Producers and guest bookers work on very tight deadlines, so a fast pitch and even faster response are often essential.

Local vs. national

Are you pitching local news or national? For local affiliates, it’s best to tie the story into a local angle, as that’s what local outlets cover. When you want to target a specific part of the country, regional broadcast is the way to go. National segments are reserved for wider announcements that typically appeal to a national audience, of course. Producers and assignment editors are looking for stories that tie into current news. So if your news isn’t a big story, find a way to tie it to the flow of the news to add the hook for the producer. In our work promoting new COVID-19 diagnostic products, we’re naturally looking for local news outlets where the virus has spiked, which are unfortunately all too common. For a more business-oriented story, you may want to pay attention to regional statistics on employment, spending, and consumer confidence, for example.

Spell it out

When pitching a producer, make the necessary segment points clear. Before the producer even has to ask, you should provide information needed such as expert spokesperson bio, images, b-roll, company description or boilerplate, sample talking points and links to previous interviews the spokesperson has done so the producer can see how they appear on camera. Give the producer any relevant information to make them understand the who, what, and why of a potential segment. Providing any necessary information upfront is more likely to draw the producer’s attention and approval and save on subsequent back-and-forth email exchanges. 

Use the newsdesk

Always send the pitch and relevant news directly to the station’s newsdesk. The newsdesk is the department of a broadcasting organization responsible for collecting and reporting the news. The reporters at the newsdesk make sure any relevant/interesting news that comes in is presented in the station’s morning meeting and possibly selected for segments. It’s important to pitch your story early before the stations have their daily meetings. If you don’t hear back from them, pick up the phone and call them to make sure they received your email!

Know the producers beat

As with any kind of media pitching, it’s best to take the time to research and learn who would be the best person(s) to receive your pitch instead of blasting the pitch to a wide list of contacts. Research the producers, review their last segment, and find out what they typically work on that might be a fit for your story. You can even personalize your note and mention their latest segment in your email. This will help your pitch stand out and they’ll realize that you took the time to do some research before sending a “cold” email. A strong first impression can help build a lasting relationship which may mean additional segment opportunities – a win-win.

Follow up

Producers receive many pitches in a given day, and it’s hard to keep track of everything they receive. They may be interested in your story but get quickly sidetracked by another email or query. There’s a school of thought that PR people shouldn’t bother media after sending a pitch because they risk being annoying. But in the real world, we recommend following up, and if you don’t hear back, consider a phone call. If you have a quality story idea in mind, it will pay to be respectfully persistent.

7 Ways To Prep A CEO For A Broadcast Interview

For PR pros, landing an on-air interview for a C-suite executive is a big deal. It’s a great way to position a company in front of a large audience, and it’s typically a chance to convey a point of view on a business topic or issue. But what if an executive isn’t fully prepared?

Unless they’re accustomed to giving public interviews and speaking to journalists frequently, there’s a good chance that even senior execs will need some coaching in advance of a key interview. There are several things you can do to ensure that things run smoothly. 

Ask for questions ahead of time…but don’t count on it

Media have different policies about sharing questions ahead of an interview. In general, most don’t. However, since on-air interviews are a different type of exchange, some producers are more flexible and may share the questions beforehand, and they will of course offer details about the interview’s direction. But even if you do receive some advance questions, be mindful that they can change. Broadcast interviewers are famous for pivoting in the moment to ensure their interviews are topical. If there’s a relevant breaking news story on the day of the interview, for example, it may come up. Don’t trust that the questions or even the direction you receive are set in stone, because they probably aren’t. 

Develop the interview’s messaging

Once the interview is set and you’ve provided as much information as possible, schedule a conversation to talk about the interview and to work out the messaging. If the segment is centered around breaking news, there might not be much time to link up, so it’s up to the PR pro to prep the spokesperson within a short time. It’s important not to overdo the messaging or put words in the spokesperson’s mouth. Simply spend a few minutes focusing on two or three of the most important points. The spokesperson should feel free to change any corporate-speak or buzzwords into ordinary language that reflects how normal people speak. If stuck, they can bring the interview back to the key points by flagging them with appropriate phrases like, “the key thing to remember here is…” or, if surprised by a question, “I don’t know about that, but what I can tell you is…” 

Advise them to speak slowly and naturally 

The best on-air interviews are free-flowing and relaxed, yet professional and insightful. One good rule to share is to speak as they would with a family member or friend who is attentive, but not as familiar with the issues discussed as an insider. It should feel like the interview is just two people having a conversation. The best exchanges are educational, allowing the person being questioned to impart valuable information or a relevant point of view. They should also answer without a lot of extraneous information, which can be left for a follow-up question.

Prep for the open-ended question

Sometimes a general question (“Tell me about your career”) can be tricky because the temptation may be to start at the beginning and recite a chronology of events or an overly detailed, rambling response. This is where advance coaching for reverting to a few key fact-based messages can be very helpful. Any top executive, of course, will be ready to discuss the organization and its value proposition, but it’s also helpful to rehearse responses to broad questions about the industry, the business climate, and one’s own background. Remember, topicality is key for broadcast interviewers, so they should lead with the latest and greatest.

Remind them to reference their expertise 

Typically an executive is invited to an interview because they’re seen as a subject-matter expert. It’s helpful to convey that expertise through examples and references to the interviewee’s training or experience. These might include supporting data, strong statements of fact and opinion, or references to the experience that informs their expertise, e.g. 20 years as a research scientist, or three successful startup businesses. Acting confident during the interview and providing well-researched and thought-out information will show the interviewer and folks watching that they’re a valuable information resource. 

Don’t worry about time delays

In the age of Zoom interviews, it’s natural for there to be a slight time lag between the host’s question and the interviewee’s response. It’s easy to accidentally speak over the interviewer, so if it happens, it’s no big deal. Counsel your executive to expect a few glitches, and to simply continue speaking if they happen to overlap, rather than stopping and apologizing. No host likes to interrupt their guest. 

Help them to “think in quotes”

For TV, shorter, punchier responses are strongly preferable to longer, circuitous statements. It’s best to prepare 7-8 second quotable soundbites. It’s also important to lead with the strongest quotes, since live interviews can be cut short, and editors who cut taped exchanges will sometimes grab the first usable quote they find. It’s also helpful to incorporate part of the question into the response, assuming the listener hasn’t heard the full question. Senior execs should never respond to questions with a simple “yes” or “no,” as this makes for a dull interview and doesn’t advance the organization’s story.


Broadcast interviews are a great way to give a client exposure and credibility by weighing in on current or hot topics. The above are some measures that PR folks can take to ensure they get the most out of these opportunities, with hopes of being asked back in the future.

Book It! 8 PR Tips For Nailing TV Segments

As any good PR person knows, we consume news very differently than we did a decade ago, thanks to social media. Yet television talk and news has been surprisingly resilient.

Cable news, in fact, is booming. And for many of us in PR, there’s nothing better than getting your client a nice, juicy segment on TV. From GMA to CNN or Fox Business, a solid broadcast appearance packs a punch. A national TV segment typically has a large and high-quality reach in real time, it’s searchable for some time thereafter, and it can be amplified on social media.

Most earned media specialists want that coveted booking for their client and every PR person is pitching. So how can one break through? Here are eight tips to help get your pitch heard by TV bookers and producers. 

The Passover question

Why is this segment different from all other segments? As with any journalist, each day thousands of emails flood producers’ inboxes. From the subject line to the opening sentence is your time to get them wanting more. Be succinct, be clever and compelling. Make the words count. Don’t tease by being mysterious, don’t make it complicated, and for heaven’s sake, don’t make it long. These decision-makers are on hellish deadlines, and they’re looking for something they can use without a struggle.

Know broadcast deadlines

Whatever you do, don’t deliver your pitch right before a news show goes on the air or starts taping. Even if you have a great story, the pitch is likely to be lost in the rush before a show starts. By the same token, it’s usually a waste to pitch a producer or segment coordinator too far in advance. People who work in the news business don’t tend to plan much farther than a week or two in advance for obvious reasons. Make a point to know the air times and deadlines of every show you pitch.

Know the news cycle

If you’re pitching something that follows a breaking story, you’ll need to send your pitch before the next news cycle. Let’s say there’s been a major security breach and your client is a cybersecurity expert with an opinion on what happened. Particularly among business news shows, guest bookers are always looking for fresh faces to feature for extra commentary on the story of the day. But be advised that your client commentary needs to be ready and he might need to drop everything to appear as a guest on the show within hours.

Remember the quid pro quo

What do they want? Ratings. Who do they want to reach? Lots of viewers. Good, you both want the same thing. When you put your pitch together, be sure to include the value your segment will bring to their viewer. Let them know who you believe will respond to this story, and why is it important.

Broadcast follows print

Many media outlets compete with one another, but in general, print and broadcast have a symbiotic relationship. A TV producer or segment coordinator will get many of her story ideas from print or digital news outlets. If you can first nail a story in a major newspaper or web news site, it often makes sense to follow-up with a quick broadcast segment pitch. But the word here is “quick,” because, as with breaking news, the story may be old within 24-48 hours.

Be visual

Television is a visual medium, so use words to create a mental video the booker or producer will see in their mind’s eye as they read or hear the pitch. Can you do a demo? Do you have graph or chart that can be shown on-screen? Is your spokesperson exceptionally attractive, well-spoken, funny or engaging? Let them know how you envision the segment. Do the work so they don’t have to.

Dear XXXX?

You know those hundreds of blasts sent to your private email every day that you delete? Don’t have your pitch become one of those. Find a way to personalize it. Obviously, use the person’s first name, and spelled correctly, but work harder. Did you just see a segment on the show that you loved?  Is there a reason why the host will be perfect for the segment you pitch? Do some research to let them know why and how this segment is tailor-made for them.

Can we tawk?

Everyone will follow-up by email, so you’ll stand out if your follow-up is done by phone. Have your short pitch ready, and a smile in your voice the moment you say hello. It’s your mission to engage them the second they answer the phone. Talk. If they’re still listening, ask questions. If they’re not into it, find out what else they’re working on and if you might fit in. If you can’t fit with them, ask if there is someone else you to talk to. Keep going until you get an answer. And stay positive, because if you persevere that answer can be yes. 

PR Pros, Avoid These Common Broadcast Interview Mistakes

Preparation is more than half the battle when arranging a broadcast interview for a PR client or spokesperson. Whoever your client may be – tech guru, CEO of a major consumer company or a celebrity spokesperson, there are always pitfalls to avoid! Check these out to help you prepare your PR client for a TV interview.

An interview is not a commercial.  If you convey anything of merit to your spokesperson, convey this: message delivery must be organic and natural, not obvious mentions of the product or company. It is always wise to prep your clients by having them view some great spokesperson interviews in advance as part of overall media training.

An interview is not an interrogation.  “You can’t handle the truth,” Jack Nicholson shouted famously at a climactic point in classic film “A Few Good Men.” And his verbal attack made sense in the courtroom.  But your client needs to remain even-tempered and unflappable in the face of a combative reporter.  New Jersey’s Governor Christie has had to master this in the face of “Bridgegate” often deflecting with humor, which can work quite well.

An interview is not a laundry list of messages. Don’t let your spokesperson drone on endlessly.  Prepare for the art of conversation. Lively, natural back-and-forth is a hallmark of an interesting interview, and effective media training should always stress this.

An interview (shouldn’t be) a waste of time.  In media training we tend to spend a lot of time preparing for negative or even hostile questions, but the more likely trap is the irrelevant query.  Make sure your spokesperson is prepared to segue into an appropriate response if asked an inappropriate or off-topic question. After all, he is there to share expertise, enlighten, or tell a story, not to fall down a rabbit hole.

An interview is better with storytelling. Encourage your client spokesperson to have a couple of interesting anecdotes or examples that bring your messages to life. This will engage them right away and provide a natural lead-in to a logical brand message. Make the story about the audience. In a recent piece about fashion upstart Rent the Runway, the co-founder of the company began by describing what today’s fashion-conscious consumer wants and then led into what her company provides that is different and compelling.

As any PR pro should know – effective media training will help make any interview more successful.