Breaking into TV: A step-by-step guide

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What You’ll Learn:: 

You keep calling that TV station, and the producers won’t pick up the phone.

You email them with intriguing and visually rich subject lines, such as “Summertime fun event,” and those snooty TV types don’t reply.

Rude people, right?

Or maybe you’re just annoying a swamped news staff by failing to make clear what you’re pitching or provide what they need to make a decision. Join Larissa Hall for an insider’s view to make your TV pitch stand out.

In this session, you’ll learn to:

  • Pitch via video: why a simple email and link to a YouTube video pitch is better than your wittiest text email
  • Create meaningful B-roll: how to think like a TV producer and control every element of the story they need
  • Compete with prepaid sponsorships: how to make it to air with your pitch in a sea of paid advertorials disguised as features
  • Build an online video newsroom. It's simple and you probably already have every resource you need in-house
  • In this two-hour session from the one-time co-creator and executive producer of Tribune Broadcasting's syndicated morning show, you'll learn why video is the best way to grab that morning producer's attention. Better yet, you'll learn how to create videos that will actually air.

It starts with the email subject line, Hall says. This is your hook. Snag the producer’s interest with one that explains just what you are offering. Avoid retreads of clichés.

“You have to be specific,” Hall says. “I get a lot of ‘Mother’s Day’s around the corner,’ and the ‘Tax day tips.’”

Learn how to tell the producer what you want. Hall is swamped with flowery, information-choked prose that doesn’t get to the point. Don’t B.S. her. Unbury the lede.

Learn what elements are essential to successful video pitches. Video is a terrific way to show off a client who’s good on camera, or illustrate how something complicated works. Get producers drooling over the B-roll possibilities, which is an essential part of their job.

Find out whether it’s OK to film a video pitch, even with smartphones.

Learn to be topical, Hall says. Know everything about not only your organization, but competitors around the country.

Find out what times of the day are best for phoning TV producers of morning vs. evening programs. Learn when they’re likely to be at their desks.

And ask yourself the hard questions. Find out how to be your own critic—and do it before you pitch a story. If you do pique a TV producer’s interest, you’re bound to be asked these questions anyway.

Quit wasting your time—and that producer’s. Start here.

April 2013

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Presenter bio: 

Larissa Hall is Dallas-based CW33's director of content. She had been senior producer and one of the creators of “Eye Opener,” a live, syndicated morning news, comedy and variety show for Tribune Broadcasting.