Communications Week Panel’s Recipes for Pitching Digital, Video and Local Media Outlets

The Better Show Candy Corn CupcakesMaking a splash in social media, having a local hook or access to experts with interesting back stories will gain the attention of digital, video or local media outlets. But don’t bother sending another pumpkin spice recipe or it will end up in a pile with all the other Halloween pitches. Those were a few of the tips producers mentioned at a PRSA NY-hosted panel on Tuesday, during the inaugural Communications Week in New York.

Four media outlets and panelists participated:
•  WABC-TV’s Eyewitness News show and 7online site – Bob Monek, executive producer, digital and social media
•  Meredith Corporation’s The Better ShowWillow Hacket, senior associate producer
•  HuffPost LiveCindy Vanegas, executive producer
•  TheStreet‘s OptionsProfits site – Jill Malandrino, product development manager

Aside from their individual takes on pitching prospects, they also gave detailed rundowns of their outlets, including content, types of guests who appear and their social media approach.

Pitching Pointers

“If you make a splash in social, you’ll get the attention of TV stations, and having a local hook is key”, said Monek. “We also selectively use tips and photos that we receive from our viewers.”

“I can’t tell you how many pumpkin spice recipes I get, and we only do one Halloween show with 6 segments”, said Hacket. “For seasonal topics, send your pitch ahead, since we tape 1-2 weeks in advance. It’s best to feature creative experts, or make a news topic entertaining with the right personalities.”

“We’re interested in people’s personal stories, such as how business people got to where they are now and unique aspects of their lives”, said Vanegas. “We also like counterpoints to stories we aired yesterday, to continue the conversations.”

“You can send press releases and pitches so I have more options but it’s best to outline what’s next in the story so I can focus on new angles”, said Malandrino.

For background details on each outlet, below are selected comments from the panelists.

WABC-TV’s Eyewitness News, 7online

“We’ve expanded and are doing more TV news than before, and we’re moving toward creating more original content, so it’s not just repurposed content from other ABC outlets. For example, our “Medical Marvels” series is a 3-part series leading up to the NYC Marathon.”

“When we went digital 8-9 years ago, it was a monumental change to transform from television into a digital-first newsroom. The audience now is social first, so I also work with on-air talent to ensure that their social media accounts are current and active. But I don’t get too caught up in the numbers regarding which story is most popular since we still need to deliver local news that our audience wants.”

Meredith Corporation’s The Better Show

“This is a syndicated talk show that’s been on for 8 seasons. Our topics include beauty, health, cooking and inspirational stories. For our segments, such as “In the Green Room”, we host celebrity guests, and have exclusive web performances. We do cross-promotions with Meredith magazines, and often share guests, like Kris Jenner, who was in the studio today.”

“There’s no live audience, instead we interact via social media. Our guests may be big stars from YouTube, so we check out their bios and clips. We look for those with large Twitter followings, and for casting we also reach out on Twitter.”

HuffPost Live

“We’re the video online sister channel to HuffPo, around since 2012, and we have studios in N.Y., Washington D.C. and L.A. We produce 8 hours of live programming, and we package the reporting into different areas, or buckets. Our stories are based on HuffPo’s U.S. and international editions and we also have synergy with AOL.”

“For HuffPost Live, it’s the value of the conversations that count, and we search sites for the liveliest conversations and invite commenters to join in real-time. We’re the voice of people on the street, such as protesters. We also find fun social media stories since we have a strong social component, as well as smaller stories that people aren’t talking about.”

TheStreet‘s OptionsProfits

“We have multiple verticals, like options and futures trading and a lifestyle component. We’re tied to the financial news cycle but there’s no expectation we’ll breaking headlines on video. So we focus on covering stories that networks aren’t doing, such as the economic impact of charity events, or how NASCAR might impact General Motors.”

“We leverage social media and the expertise of our guests, and we bring in qualified experts who have done research and can add value. I also see which of our stories are still being shared three months out.”

(Candy corn cupcakes image courtesy of ‘The Better Show’)