Breaking into Talk Shows

Today’s PR lesson of the day centers on timely topics where you could fit in and promote yourself, your book, product or brand. If you’ve watched the Today Show lately, you can get a feel for how they produce a segment and then figure out how you might be the perfect guest for them.
Here’s how it works. If you watched today’s segment, which focused on women and body image, you’ll see that they featured Cindy Lieve, the editor in chief of Glamour who shared the results of a survey the magazine just did on women and body image (surprise, we all still think we’re fat). They paired Cindy with the author of a new book about body image – a woman with a lovely British accent who I think contributed two comments to the conversation and the third guest was a psychologist whose specialty was…you guessed it, body image – she only spoke once, if you’re keeping score.
So that’s the trifecta of a morning show television segment. Magazine editor, author, psychologist. So if you’re not an author, magazine editor or psychologist, how do you break in? Simple. Sometimes they also like to round out a segment with a mom expert. So what’s your specialty? Are you a green mom? A gaming mom? An Internet safety mom? A cooking and recipe mom? If you do have a niche, you actually have a much better chance of being picked for a news or talk show because producers can clearly see what your blog offers readers. If you’re more of a generalist (like me), then it will be much harder for you to break in. The reason for that is simple. While you may believe you are the all-knowing mom in the blogosphere, not having a specialty works against you – especially since those Today Show producers have just written a parenting book themselves. Why do they need you when they have each other?
I don’t want to depress you so here’s how you can beat the system. Figure out the topic that suits you best and bring in experts that’ll round out the segment and showcase you too. Even better, if you follow the Today Show on twitter, they actually send out messages when they’re looking for guests for a story.
As for the Queen of Talk, Kristin at Spirited Woman said the best way for a mom to break in is to visit and keep paying attention to the site and what shows they’re working on. Kristin actually got a call back for their talented kids show – that doesn’t mean she’s booked, but at least she got a call back. And trust me, when you have the email address and phone number of an Oprah producer that doesn’t mean you’re going to get anywhere fast. They do not return calls or emails unless they’re interested. And if they’re not interested, you are pretty much dead in the water.
For local TV news or radio shows, your best bet is to pitch the reporter who covers the topic that best suits you or visit the website and send your story to them as well. Another idea is to secure a newspaper placement on your business or book and then reach out to TV reporters with that story. A lot of times TV news is driven by print media so don’t count out newspapers when trying to make your mark.
The bottom line on breaking in is to do your homework. Study the network morning shows and the local news and pay attention to the stories they’re covering on a regular basis and then figure out how you could fit in. It’s not easy to do but with a little ingenuity and persistence, you may one day find yourself in the TV hot seat.