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How to Get Your Service, Product, or Idea On TV News -- for FREE!

By: Kevin Nunley

Kevin Nunley provides marketing advice, copywriting, and promotion packages. See his 10,000 free marketing ideas at DrNunley.com Reach Kevin at kevin@drnunley.com or 801-328-9006.

Few things in media are as powerful as television exposure. Anyone who has ever been on TV can tell you, a few shots on the tube and people are recognizing you in the supermarket.

Local television news has taken off as one of the most trusted voices in media. Like it or not, when your local TV anchor person says something, huge numbers of people regard it as hard truth.

Imagine this scenario. You're trying hard to introduce the general public to your new service. Advertising is expensive, so you're having o get creative to make your marketing ideas stretch. On the local nightly news, the veteran anchor person who everyone in town has watched for 20 years, turns to the camera and mentions your new service. Then he cuts to a video of a promotion at your store.

Impossible? Not at all when you know how TV news works. You can have your business featured on TV for free if you follow these guidelines.

ALWAYS REMEMBER...TV IS VISUAL!

The most important thing about television is that it is VISUAL. In many cases, the story may not sound interesting or be interesting, but if it LOOKS interesting, it gets on TV.

Once at a fund-raiser, all the media personalities in town were gathered together for a banana split eating contest. Knowing that every television station would be sending a camera to cover this novel and VISUAL event, I decided to be the most novel and visual person in the contest.

We all sat down, television, radio and newspaper people alike, and prepared our chops for the starting whistle. As the eating commenced, I pulled out a giant silver spoon the size of a small shovel. The television cameras immediately swung to me.

That evening, at the neglect of all the other media contestants, footage of my spoon and I were prominently featured on the news of several television stations. The visual approach to TV worked.

FIVE THINGS THAT TV PRODUCERS LOOK FOR.

There are five basic categories of stories that television likes to cover. You won't find these written down anywhere on a news room bulletin board. They are instinctive to assignment editors.

Number one are political stories. Anything that has to do with local, state, or federal politics gets on TV. If the Gotebo, Oklahoma dog catcher does something that upsets two people, it's somehow viewed as a worthy news story. Expect to get on TV if you mount an accepted challenge to a government official, entity, or proposal.

Big community problems get the same kind of coverage. These are often things that touch everyone. Potholes, mosquito eradication, garbage service, flood control, and crime all fall into this category. Activities that solve big community problems, or potential problems, get attention too. This could be something like people planting fifty trees in the city park.

Education and Health earn a lot of television coverage these days. The first one is because everyone is concerned about kids. The second is because television news viewers are disproportionately middle-aged. They have an increased interest in health information and issues.

Celebrities always get television time. The reasons are obvious. The man or woman who couldn't care less about the other topics mentioned will always look up when the local NBA star or visiting movie star comes on.

I will awkwardly lump sports into this category as well. Sports make up to 50% of local news in many towns.

Finally, television loves novelty. Some experts say that anything visual and original will get on. I'm not sure I agree. Strictly original stories often leave assignment editors wondering why they should cover it. You are far better off doing something that's done once every year or two. The cameras will show up for something that they know from experience will be a winner.

Contestants diving into a swimming pool of green jello to grab a key that starts a free car is the oldest stunt in the book, but it invariably brings the TV vans out in droves.

"BUT HOW CAN I GET MY PRODUCT OR SERVICE ON TV?"

If you can ATTACH your product, service, or idea to a topic that the news wants to cover--you're in!

Just like the person promoting an issue that wanted to get their position on the news, you can get your business on TV news by finding some way to attach your biz to a topic that TV would cover. Can your business get involved in a community service program that will be newsworthy?

Not long ago two boys decided to camp out on top of their house in hopes that someone would notice them and give them tickets to a hot NBA basketball game. It's was just goofy enough to get the TV cameras out. Everyone laughed. One sharp business person called a TV station and explained he was on his way over to the boy's house to offer them his tickets and bring them down off the roof. The TV news director immediately saw a story happening. He ordered a camera crew to meet the business man as he arrived at the boy's house.

Did the guy with the tickets get on TV? Yes! Did he look good to people watching? Yes! Did lots of new customers arrive at his store the next day to tell him what a great guy he was and buy a few things?

Of course!

HOW TO CONTACT THE NEWS DEPARTMENT.

The media is very telephone oriented. Your best bet is to call the news department and tell whomever answers all about your story. Get to the point. Make sure your story is good. Tell the reporter that answers the juicy or visual part first. Remember that while you're talking, the reporter is thinking:
  1. What's in this for us? Will our viewers be interested?

  2. Will my boss think this is a good idea?

  3. How much trouble will it be for us to get this on tape and on the air?
If you can get positive answers on those three points, you've got a great shot at getting some TV. Keep in mind that TV stations run short-handed and on a very tight deadline. They've got a lot of work to do in very little time.

© 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996 DrNunley.com.

Other Articles by Kevin Nunley

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