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The Media Game

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How To Get Your Story On TV

Getting your story on TV is for many PRs the Holy Grail. Why? Because more times than not, TV delivers the most concentrated audience - the most eyeballs sitting in front of your product or service. TV is also considered the most credible of the news mediums. The reason being is that people tend to believe what they see.

From a promoter or PR perspective, TV is a visual product which gives you a great avenue to capture the imagination of the audience. There is nothing more powerful than the audience being able to see your product or service in action, or to hear you or your spokesperson talk about it. This is where the credibility factor kicks in.

If you get the chance to be on TV, you are basically getting a free opportunity to talk to your consumers, to convince them, to sell to them, to impress them. It maybe just a quick 15 second interview grab, or a full five to six minute feature story, but either way people will be making an impression of you. In that short amount of time, consumers will make a judgement call of whether you or your product or service is worthy of their interest, or more importantly, their spending dollar. In a crisis management situation, the audience is also working out whether they can trust you.

So how do you get your story on TV?

By understanding that TV is as much about entertainment as it is the story. If you have a story that you want to get on TV but it doesn’t have visual appeal, it better be a bloody good story.

The perfect TV story has three key elements.

  1. The TV story is newsworthy and of interest to the audience
  2. The TV story is supported by great interview talent. People that are interesting and entertaining to look at and listen to. People that concisely and simply tell the story.
  3. The TV story is visually captivating. Great images that draw in the audience and take them along for the ride.

It is rare for a TV story to have all three of these elements. If it does, TV newsrooms, breakfast TV and current affairs shows will be falling over themselves for your story. That’s in a perfect world, but more times than not, a good TV story will have two of these elements. If you have great TV pictures and great TV talent, the story may not need a phenomenal news angle. If the news angle is fantastic, and the interview talent is also great, then the actual visual elements may not need to be totally captivating. You get the drift.

So who is great TV talent?

A person who is deemed by the media as great TV talent is someone who is naturally passionate about what they are talking about. If you believe it, so will the audience. If you need to force your enthusiasm or passion, it will come across that way. Very rarely does the camera lie. And you can be guaranteed the audience has the bullshit meter well and truly turned up each time they sit in front on the TV.

Great TV talent is able to get across their message concisely and to the point. Anticipate what the journalist or presenter is likely to ask you, and be prepared to give them an answer that not only tells the story, but entertains. Engage your audience and take them along for the ride.

How to be a TV expert.

TV programs, particularly the breakfast shows, are always looking for experts in a particular field. For example, Channel 7s Sunrise program calls on Peter Blasina to talk anything technology-based, and Dr Keith Suter is their go-to man for Foreign Affairs. Not only are they knowledgeable and great on-air talent, but always available.

And if you want to take the expert gig to the ultimate level, try Dr Phil from Oprah fame. Dr Phil was a regular on Oprah’s daytime TV show in the United States, which is also syndicated world-wide and seen by hundreds of millions of people each day. Over the years, Dr Phil was such a hit he became a best selling author and went onto host his own highly successful TV chat show.

For the expert, a regular gig on a high-rating TV show is a fantastic way of boosting your profile and also generating additional work. After all, who had ever heard of Blasina or Suter before they became regulars on Sunrise? Now the fame of those regular appearances gives them additional speaking and media engagements that are worth a considerable additional income.

But they need to keep delivering. They need to stay in touch with their chosen field and be ready to talk professionally on any related subject.

So How Do You Set Yourself Up as a TV Expert?

It is usually a long haul but highly rewarding if you can nail a regular gig. After all, credibility is not developed over night. It takes time to build a profile with the media and also the audience. But if you approach it with this attitude, and not with the attitude that it will happen overnight, you have a great chance of winning long term success.

First of all, make sure you truly are an expert in your chosen field. If you try and pass yourself off as an expert, and you’re not, you will soon be found out.

Next, follow the news closely in your chosen field and be prepared to make educated comment. Be timely when looking to offer opinion. If a story breaks in your chosen field, be ready to comment as soon as possible. Approach news organizations with an angle on a breaking story, something that can take the TV story in a new direction or build on a currently developing angle. But offer something that will get the TV newsrooms thinking.

If it is the first time you are approaching a TV news organization, you will need to show specific details of your credentials, including references.

Also be prepared to approach radio, newspaper and internet news organizations with an offer of expert comment. Notoriety in a particular field in one medium could well lead to offers to appear on other news mediums, including TV.

Don’t go into this purely as a chance to get your head on camera. You need to be passionate about what you are presenting, and look at it as offering the community a service by giving them an expert’s opinion on an issue. By being an expert, you have a privileged opportunity to educate and set opinion on matters that have a profound effect on the daily lives of millions. Don’t take the responsibility lightly. Seldom do selfish ambitions last for any length of time. And being an expert is all about longevity. The longer you are known as an expert, the more credibility and more worth you bring to a news organization.