‘GMA’ Producer: ‘The Bar Is High for What Will Air’

“The TV moment that people will think about afterwards” helps determine what will appear on talk shows, according to Patty Neger, coordinating producer at Good Morning America.

She was a panelist at the Publicity Club of New York event on Thursday about pitching morning and daytime TV talk shows.

Neger advised thinking of “the visual ways to tell stories in terms of videos, photos and graphics, since it’s not just talking heads.” The GMA anchors are also active on social networks, so she suggested including social media tie-ins with the pitch.

GMA is interested in “informative, buzzy, interactive content,” Neger noted. For example, in a story this week on the impact of the extreme heat on people’s health, their medical editor went to a sauna. He was weighed before and after the visit and ended up losing a couple pounds. In a spring segment, they dressed the male crew in skinny jeans, or ‘jeggings’.

Having famous clients is the ticket to appearing on the other shows featured on the panel since they are celebrity based programs. These include The Wendy Williams Show, Live with Regis & Kelly, and The Rachael Ray Show. Rena Popp, senior producer at The Wendy Williams Show, said celebrities factor in to nearly all of their content, whether the topic is current events, cooking or fashion.

Popp noted that occasionally other guests appear on the show, as they did during their Kim Kardashian look-alike contest. She is also open to last-minute guests filling in for cancellations during bad weather such as snowstorms. Other pitches she would be receptive to revolve around their theme weeks, such as Cinco de Mayo, or the eighteen-city nationwide bus tour Williams is embarking on this summer.

Kelly Burkhard, senior talent booker at Live with Regis & Kelly, said the show also does demos, such as music, cooking or outrageous topics, though these are booked a few months in advance. She reminded the audience that Regis is leaving in November.

The panelists also cited pitching techniques to avoid based on pitches they received this year. The first no-no is reciting your press release verbatim in a voicemail message. Another mistake is pitching immediately following a major news event such as the death of Osama Bin Laden. The final faux pas is sending twenty-four JPEG attachments along with an email. As they mentioned, extreme examples such as these may actually result in a quick reply, but not the intended one.