If you are the leader of your own business, I have two words for you: Yellow Pages.
I realize those two words date me a little bit. We toss those giant books straight into the recycling bin now, but remember when you would cherish having all that information in one place? Do you recall when your business depended on the leads you got from those pages? I remember when the new editions would come into the newsroom, we reporters would race to get one of the clean copies before they all disappeared.
I started out as a TV news reporter when the internet was in its infancy, when you got an email account because it was the new, hot thing, but you didn’t really know what to do with it. You checked it weekly… if that.
This was BG: Before Google.
And back then, businesses reached a mass audience through newspaper ads, the Yellow Pages, maybe even commercials on television or the radio.
Reporters are always on a deadline. That hasn’t changed through the years. And now, there are even more demands on a journalists’ time–multiple deadlines, sometimes multiple stories in one day, copy needed for a television segment, for the web, for a social media tease.
The news story, though, always comes first. You have to get the pieces of the story together before any of the other tasks can be completed.
The reporter gets his/her assignment during the morning meeting. Let’s say it’s a rather slow news day and the topic is tax tips. Anytime, really, is a good time for tax-related money-saving ideas, but you might see a ramp-up of those types of stories just before April 15th
It’s a story someone must tell every year, and the challenge for the reporter is to tell it differently than in the past, with information that adds value to the viewer. Most reporters are not tax experts so they rely on the help of someone who deals with the fine details day after day.
How does this apply to you? It has everything to do with you.
It’s much noisier these days and a lot more crowded, but there are still things that hold true when it comes to reaching the attention of a journalist. Here are some tips on how to get your first TV appearance
4 Steps to Getting a TV Appearance
1. What does Google say about you?
Back in the day, I would have reached under my desk, wiped away the dust and opened up the Yellow Pages to the section on “tax preparers.” There would be pages of choices and depending on a number of things–location, name recognition, sometimes an accompanying ad–I would pick up the phone and call. I would keep calling until I found someone with the knowledge I needed. Now, there’s a much easier way to get the job done.
Where does your business show up in Google? Does it come up on the first page? And when your name comes up, is the information that follows flattering, accurate, and/or beneficial for your brand? Do you have a website, a LinkedIn profile, testimonials? This is something you can control, by creating a website and relevant content.
2. Make a real connection
In business, you may have already learned the value of building your network before you need it. The same holds true for a relationship with a reporter. Especially with social media, there are countless ways to connect with someone who works at a television station. Anchors, reporters and photographers are on Facebook. Twitter, too. Producers have Twitter accounts. In the search box, just type in the station you wish to connect with. Boom. The entire list of staff members. Follow and learn what stories they share. Some will focus on breaking news, some on investigative pieces. Others may be geared toward consumer or medical stories. Find the ones that apply to your business. Respond to their posts. Share some insight.
And that leads to this…
3. Look for opportunities to offer value
After many years covering the courts, the military, or even consumer issues, I like to say some reporters learn enough on the job to be dangerous. But by and large, the experts are the people who deal with a subject or topic day after day. And they can’t be replaced. They can provide value on a certain issue and that’s what journalists are looking for to add depth to their story. That expert can most certainly be you.
As an expert, if you offer a new twist, a differing view, an unusual solution to a problem that would benefit the audience, consider finding a way to reach a reporter directly.
Ask yourself this: what information do you have that can help the reporter tell the story better?
Trying to figure out who would be interested in your news item? See #2 above.
4. Be available
This always surprises me, but it happens more than you would think. Some people refuse to change their schedules.
Reporters are people, too, and we understand family emergencies, childcare issues, and health problems. But reporters have pretty extreme and unforgiving deadlines. I remember one woman who canceled an interview with me because she didn’t want to reschedule a hair appointment. While I understand you want to look your best for a television appearance, under deadline, this excuse just will not work. I had to find someone else. And the process repeats.
So there you have it. Follow these easy tips and you will find out that landing your first TV appearance is a lot easier than you thought. Good luck!
Let’s hear from you! Do you have any tips on landing a TV appearance? Tell us in the comments below!