Newsmakers in Morning Newscasts

By Doug Drew 

When booking guests for your morning newscast, the key is finding interesting people who have compelling stories to TELL or something incredibly fascinating to SHOW.

Interviews with officials are likely to be boring, so you want to choose these guests carefully. There are a lot of people who are fine as a 20 second soundbite in a reporter package, but not as a two minute morning news guest. Viewers in the morning just don’t have time to sit and watch a boring guest, no matter how important the topic. In fact, interviews in general should be avoided unless your guest has something very compelling to talk about or show.

Officials, experts and analysts can be incredibly boring
Guests such as the mayor, a city council member, fire chief, a police chief , or a financial expert are problematic. They may seem “important” to news producers, but unless your viewers see this as “making news,” these are interviews you want to avoid. For instance, if the police chief comes in and unveils a new lead in the city’s big murder mystery. But as well all know, that almost never happens.

Charities
Also be careful with people from local charities. Yes, there are some wonderful events in your community: the walk-a-thon for cancer, the fire department fund raiser for children with burns, the festival to raise money for Alzheimer’s patients. What you don’t want to do is invite the PR person or the director of the agency to talk about the event. Boring. Instead, invite someone who has cancer and will be walking in the event, or a parent whose child is undergoing treatment for burns, or a wife whose husband has Alzheimer’s. Have them talk about their personal situation, which is emotional and dramatic, and then, at the end, plug the charity event.

One guest is usually enough
Be careful about who gets interviewed. Just because the PR person or the official from the agency shows up with the main guest doesn’t mean the PR person or the official also get to be interviewed. Two guests is usually too many.

Think emotion and real people
We all know that you use a soundbite in a package to express emotion. Use the same rule for selecting guests on the morning show. The best guests are real people who have an emotional interesting story to tell. Often these people are in your evening newscasts as soundbites. Track them down and have them come in a day or two later. The angry mom who raised hell at the school board meeting, the convenience store clerk who was robbed at gunpoint and fought back, the fireman who save the three puppies, or the grocery store clerk who found a wallet with $10,000.

Be demanding
Many guests are delighted to appear on your newscast. They love the exposure. They couldn’t afford to pay for the amount of airtime you are giving them, so be incredibly demanding. Ask them to bring props or items to demonstrate what it is they are talking about. Demand that the segment be “good TV,” and if they can’t pull it off, move on. There are a ton of other book authors out there who would jump through hoops to get on the show.

You don’t need to have more resources to do this. Put he onus back on the guest to be interesting and dynamic. It doesn’t take a staff of bookers to get this done, it just means the person who makes the phone call to the guests has to demand that the guests be compelling.

Doug Drew is a morning news specialist with 602 Communications. You can reach him at ddrew@602communications.com.

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