How To Get Your Story On TV: Tips From Six Journalists

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My mom cried the first time I told her I had to work on Christmas.

It was my first job in TV news.

“Why don’t they just show a movie instead?”

Before our conversation ended, she also suggested playing carols or broadcasting continuous footage of a Yule Log.

My mom didn’t understand back then why I couldn’t take the day off and just leave things up to George Bailey and the old Building and Loan.

Unless you’ve worked in TV – much of it can be a mystery.

That’s especially true for many PR pros and marketers who can’t seem to figure out how to get the media to cover their stories.

I’m thankful for my past experience as a reporter. I had to give up quite a few holidays at home – but the insight I gained as a journalist makes me a stronger marketer.

I am able to tackle many of the questions others outside the TV business struggle with: Is there such a thing as a perfect pitch? What makes my story newsworthy? And who should I contact with my ideas?

I also know from my days on TV, when you have a question, it’s best to go straight to the source for the answer. So, I recently asked six journalists still in the biz to offer their advice for communications professionals interested in getting their messages on TV.

Enjoy their tips below. And think of these folks (and their moms) the next time you don’t have to work on a holiday.

Cue the Yule Log!

Amanda Hara, Anchor

Amanda Hara, Anchor

Amanda Hara, Anchor | Knoxville, Tennessee
“Personalize your pitch by showcasing how a real person fits into the picture. Is that person in my coverage area and willing to share their experience? Even better. Example: You say that more people with medical costs are turning to crowdfunding sites to supplement the expenses of treatment? Connect me with a cancer patient in my area who’s found success on a crowd-funding site and give me the statistics to back up your pitch.”

Jessica Moore, Anchor

Jessica Moore, Anchor

Jessica Moore, Anchor | Las Vegas, Nevada
“Tell me in the subject line why I should open your email. Give me something that will help my pitch stand out from the other reporters, and don’t make me click on the email to find it out. Also, ensure immediate and flexible availability for all interviews related to the story.”

Katie Bauer, Reporter

Katie Bauer, Reporter

Katie Bauer, Reporter | Louisville, Kentucky
“Visuals! If something sounds visually stimulating or if you make it known what TV crews would be able to show that would grab people’s attention, we’ll be more likely to cover it. Also, try to tie your event into something bigger (studies, something topical, national events.)”

Chris Sutter

Chris Sutter, Anchor/Reporter

Chris Sutter, Anchor/Reporter | Louisville, Kentucky
“If you have a really good story, consider just letting one reporter or station know. If you help them out with a good exclusive, they might be more apt to cover ‘everyday’ events.”

Jackie Congedo, Reporter

Jackie Congedo, Reporter

Jackie Congedo, Reporter | Cincinnati, Ohio
“Know the best person to contact at a station about your story. Mass emails to newsrooms aren’t always the most effective way to get your story picked up. If it’s a health story, find out if the station has a health reporter and personally reach out to that particular reporter. Also, don’t forget about weekend morning newscasts. Most stations have them now and might be looking for extra content. These shows can be good avenues for stories about community events that otherwise might not be able to fit into the busy weekday newscasts.”

Kathy Stone, Assistant News Director

Kathy Stone, Assistant News Director

Kathy Stone, Assistant News Director | Lexington, Kentucky
“I beg of you, please do not send a multi-page press release.  Our newsroom averages hundreds of emails every single day.  If I spent even a minute on each email, that would add up to hours out of my day (and we aren’t allowed to start any of our newscasts late because we got behind reading email.)”

Opinions are my own. They do not necessarily reflect those of my employers past or present.

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