GETTING LOCAL TV COVERAGE (the medium with the most exposure)

  • Many of the radio guidelines apply to TV as well. Be sure to review the “Written Radio Press Release” guidelines.
  • Your story must be timely, relevant to the day’s news or trending in the community. A local story that ties into a national story is especially interesting. If that is the case with your story,  inform the station how your issue or event story is “the local angle.”
  • Research your local news stations to determine which ones target audiences who are interested in your group’s issues or story. Also know their different audiences, for morning, midday, or evening shows.
  • Research which topics they usually cover and how their guest segments usually work. Are you interested in a news story, an interview?
  • Find out who to contact at the station to make sure your story gets in the right hands. Producers are usually assignment editors for the day’s newscast, or a planning editor who plans for news beyond that day. Don’t ask for a reporter or anchor (they do not plan the news).
  • Call to set up an appointment, don’t just show up. Prepare for your call by sending a note to introduce yourself and group. Be professional, courteous, and respectful, even if you are refused a hearing.
  • You can call the news desk early in the morning with a phone story pitch, but keep it reasonable, honest, and fast. Details can be added at a later meeting. Stick to the facts––no rumors or assumptions.
  • Don’t misrepresent what you will provide. If you promise something, e.g., a celeb at your event, and then fail to produce, your group will be ignored in the future.
  • Stations receive many story pitches each day, so craft your pitch to provide major viewer benefit (they cater to the audience). Indicate that you know the type of audience for that particular show and explain how your story will fit well with the show.
  • TV is a visual medium so you need good visuals to illustrate your story. In your pitch, include a list of visuals and activities that can be used. If an interview with an anchor, involve the anchor in any activities, if possible.
  • If a reporter comes to your site or event, plan an appropriate and quiet background for the interview. Make sure your spokesperson is rehearsed and on-air ready.
  • TV (and Radio) work in sound bites. You may have only two minutes or less to tell your story, and then only one or two sentences will end up in the broadcast. So be ready to focus on the most important message. Practice keeping it short so your quotes are easy to use on-air.
  • If you’ve had no response from previous attempts, email your press release or phone pitch the morning of the event.
  • Over time, build relationships with the stations’ key contacts and with on-air personalities who tend to cover your issues. Establish your group as the go-to source for information on your issues for when producers need to consult local “experts.”  You may want to drop off a PRESS KIT (see Media Campaigns) at the station’s office or post one on your website as a handy reference for producers and reporters.
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