Pitching Pointers for National Broadcast Shows

A-list celebrities or “good talkers” with compelling personal stories have the best shot at making it on to national TV or radio shows, and exclusives are not always required. This was the panelists’ consensus at PRSA New York chapter’s Meet the Media event on Wednesday evening. Producers of five shows offered pitching tips, and Suzanne Lyons, VP and director of consumer media at Ketchum, moderated the panel.

“The morning shows have grown risk-averse and won’t take a chance on someone they don’t know,” according to Eric Salzman, senior producer of The Early Show. As a result, famous guests have a greater chance of making it on-air.

If the person is less well known, then they need to be a “good talker,” according to Stefan Van Engen, co-executive producer of the Gayle King Show. For this reason, all the panelists recommended sending links to a proposed guest’s online clips, along with their human interest stories. Van Engen also suggested “painting the conversation as it would unfold during the segment.”

The panelists acknowledged increased competition, particularly between the morning shows, and reported they don’t have strict policies about exclusives.

Taylor Behrendt, associate producer of Good Morning America, said for them it depends on the topic, the person, and the situation. Salzman commented that it’s “an evolving process,” and The Early Show sometimes prefers to go second, depending on whether it’s “a newsmaker, a news item, or a quirky news story.”

The producers reported occasionally allowing paid integration with spokespeople. These are each evaluated on an individual basis, and are more likely to proceed if the guest is an A-list celebrity. The shows always have final control over the content so the segments appear more natural.

The five producers also gave quick snapshots of their show’s content:

Gayle King Show: Van Engen said OWN’s recently launched show reflects Gayle King’s personality and tastes as she reacts and comments on current events, news, pop culture and celebrities. He described it as a simulcast of a radio show with the look and feel of a TV show.

Good Morning America: Behrendt said ABC’s show is geared toward ‘middle America’. The first hour covers current events while the second hour includes features such as the British royal wedding.

Early Show: Salzman oversees Washington and political coverage of CBS’s morning show, and among other topics the show covers are lifestyle, health, finance, and celebrities.

Better TV: Tracy Langer Chevrier, VP and executive producer of this nationally syndicated women’s lifestyle show, said coverage includes finance, fitness, and fashion and celebrities. The show is available in 83 U.S. markets, but not yet in New York.

Associated Press TV: Nicole Evatt, producer and reporter, focuses on entertainment segments, including celebrities, fashion, and movies. She noted that the show has 500 broadcast stations worldwide.