As a small business, it might be easier than you think to have your product or expertise featured on “The Today Show.” It also might be harder - based on your expectations. As an entrepreneur, you no doubt created an innovative product you wholeheartedly believe will offer solutions many consumers should know about...immediately. However, depending on the news cycle, unexpected competition, and also how well prepared you are in terms of your own branding (website up to date? Packaging looks professional?), it could take a while.
So the first tip is patience. The second is persistence. The producers may not respond right away if they are in a busy breaking or ‘hard’ news cycle. If your brand falls under the ‘soft’ news category (fashion/lifestyle, fitness, books, etc.), it could take some time. Use this time to continue to refresh your brand. Here are some other musts:
- Make sure your website is top notch. In today’s digital world, your website is your ultimate press kit. It should look professional, be consumer-friendly and tell a compelling story about your brand.
- Keep your outreach tactics dynamic. Don't send the same pitch over and over again.
- If your brand is a product: send samples for the producers to test out. Keep your pitch angles timely and relevant. A producer is tasked with reporting on existing or emerging trends; so take stock of what's going on in and around your industry. Find factual information to support your product’s claim; this is the best way to be of service to a news organization and prove that you are an expert in your field. For example, when I was working to launch Elle Macpherson Intimates in the U.S., we knew that 85% of women were wearing the 'wrong' bra size, it gave us great leverage when communicating with the media because it was useful information they could share with their viewers. In short, it was data that made the brand newsworthy and gave the producers a reason to report about our brand.
- Lastly, tune in! Be familiar with the show. The “Today Show” starts off with the 'hard' news of the day (business, finance, politics, medical, etc.). As the hours go on, the stories get lighter (fashion, cooking, home decor, tech gadgets, etc.). These segments generally take place within the 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. hour. Each hour has different producers, so make sure you're speaking to the correct producer for the hour most suitable for your brand.
- If your brand, falls into the ‘soft’ news category, you may try positioning your pitch around a holiday (Labor Day, Fourth of July, President’s Day, Thanksgiving, etc.) when ‘hard’ news tend to slow down.
- Lastly, be careful when you send your pitch. It's not a good idea to reach out to producers during the show’s production hours (7a.m. to 11:00a.m.). Since this a live show, sometimes all hands are on deck while the show is on the air. A producer will appreciate you being aware of this. They’ll also appreciate you being familiar with their format and hosts; and it doesn’t hurt to start off your pitch with some feedback on a segment they featured that you found useful or entertaining.