Even now, with the internet at its heels, TV continues to be a wildly influential medium. And since pitching TV is a whole different beast from pitching print and web media, we have an all-star Broadcast team dedicated to getting our clients valuable screen time. For our second media spotlight, we decided to reach out to Supervising Producer of Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood Live and Ryan Patterson for tips on how to get your brand featured on a show like Access Hollywood. Read on for the veteran producer’s pitching pointers.
Remember when people used to actually pick up the phone and call you to pitch a story? I don’t either! In this day and age, everything is on-line, which means an overloaded inbox for many. I myself get hundreds of emails a day and on a really busy day, that number of incoming emails can climb to over 1000. How do you cut through the clutter to make sure your pitch gets heard? Having good, solid relationships is a great start, of course. We love working with publicists, firms and agencies that we have a history with, good relationships with, and that we trust. Being organized and ahead of the curve is crucial, as well.
Here are a few other easy ways to stand out from the cluttered inbox crowd.
BE CLEAR AND CONCISE
We all love clever, creative writing, myself included. But, I don’t have time to read through a lengthy, wordy pitch and I’m sure I’m not alone. My humble advice: Get right to the point. Then, put all those basic things you learned in school to work for you. WHAT are you pitching? WHO are you pitching? WHERE and WHEN will the shoot or event take place? WHY is this product or person being pitched? Sounds obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I am scrolling down the page through paragraphs of copy, trying to get to what the heck is actually being pitched.
There’s plenty of eye rolling when we all receive a mass pitch. We all talk to each other and know that five other people on the staff got the exact same pitch and it’s very frustrating. It may seem like it’s in your best interest to pitch as wide as possible, because someone might say yes to your pitch. But for us, it just creates more work as we end up sending to the correct person. It might sound counterintuitive, but just send to the appropriate person. We’ll love you even more for making our lives less complicated.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Everyone works on different time tables, so make sure you pitch accordingly. Magazines and print outlets are pitched several months out, but TV has an entirely different schedule. For us TV folks, getting Valentine’s Day pitches when it’s not even Thanksgiving, just get moved to the side and often forgotten about. That’s a complete waste of your time. TV is much more of a day-and-date machine without as much lead time as print, so just keep that in mind. When we get things too early, we get overwhelmed! On the flip side, when we get things too late for our deadline, that doesn’t work either because your client doesn’t make the show. So knowing each type of media’s timeline is a must.
TV and the online world are both about the latest news, the big story, what’s going on right this very second. Take advantage of that! We are looking for a news hook, so if a star stepped out last night with some sort of wardrobe malfunction, pitch your expert, who can tell viewers/readers how to avoid. And make sure your pitches are going to the right type of outlet. I can’t tell you how many pitches I get about local politicians, the military, or things like that that are clearly out of the realm of the Hollywood and pop culture things national shows like ours cover. Make sure your client/pitch is right for the appropriate media.
SAY WHAT YOU MEAN
I can’t tell you how many (mass) email pitches I get that say, “If you are interested in this, please let me know.” Then, a day later, I get another email to “follow up” on the previous email. Now that’s two emails I’ve gotten, which amounts to twice the email clutter. If you don’t hear from me, then yes, as per your email that means I am not interested. If you are going to follow up anyway….a simple change in the wording is all you need. Try saying, “I will follow up with you to gauge your interest.” That way I know to answer you right away, so that I don’t have to deal with two emails and you don’t have to send me two emails. Less work for both of us. Also, give people a chance to respond before following up. I get pitches late in the afternoon and the follow up requests the following morning. Some days, that’s just not enough time to answer, especially if something isn’t urgent.
BE A ROCK STAR
You want to make things as easy-as-pie for the person you are pitching. If they are having to do extra work just to pull a segment together, it makes them less likely to want to work with you again. You want to be their go-to person, so just make sure you have all your ducks in a row. I can’t tell you how many times people have “pitched” me a celeb or segment without a real pitch or angle at all and expected me to come up with the angle and all the details. I’m happy to work with you to craft a segment together, it’s collaboration after all, but that doesn’t mean I have the time to produce the segment myself.
To check out Ryan’s weekly column The Glam Slam please click here.