in: Public Relations - How To Pitch These TV Programs
by: Sabina Hitchen
The Today Show fourth hour with Kathie Lee and Hoda has become quite a showcase for interesting, unique or must-have products. How to get on the Today Show 4th hour has become a top goal for most small businesses selling product (like this little granola company Hudson Henry who used the Tin Shingle membership program to help her land a spot on the show!).
Nearly daily, Kathie Lee & Hoda place different products from indie brands to creations from national and international corporations on their table. During their hour long segment, they periodically pick one up, show it off, talk about what it is, and mention where to buy it. The Today Show has a large, loyal audience and getting a plug by either of these two women can bring you instant validation, and the ultimate goal, a possible spike in sales.
So how do you get your product on this hour of the Today Show? As with everything in public relations, nothing is ever guaranteed. However, after placing products at the Today Show myself, as well as speaking directly with the producer of the fourth hour Today Show segment, we have a few tips that will help you pitch the Today Show fourth hour. Follow them, and you just may land this coveted spot like this Tin Shingle member did.
HAVE A UNIQUE OR INTERESTING PRODUCT THAT THEIR VIEWING DEMOGRAPHIC WILL ENJOY
Let's start at the most basic. Your brand must be something that makes for good conversation and a good visual. Your product or service must also be something that their viewers could relate to and may be interested in. We've seen the Katie Lee & Hoda promote everything from a humanitarian fashion brand with t-shirts that donate a portion of their sales to Africa, to designer wallpaper, to a hidden wine pouch you can wear in your bra, to razors that dispense shaving cream upon contact with your legs. Some of our own Tin Shingle members including Hudson Henry Baking Co, Fretzels, Gemma Redux, Magnolia PR's client Right Bank Babies, and fashion expert Kathryn Finney have also found themselves on the program in the past couple years - so don't give up - it is an attainable goal! As you can see, they cover a large range of products and genres, but all have something special about them.
It's often best to familiarize with not only the types of products a show covers, but how they cover them and what their show's "formula" or style is on a daily basis. To figure out the formula for the Today Show, check out their daily blog (a must in my opinion if you want to be on it - as you must KNOW what you are pitching). Not only will you figure out the formula, but because the producers are often the ones writing these blogs, you'll get to know who they are, what they like to cover and their style.
3 Media Pitches and You're Out
Pitching is actually made up of the "three strikes rule". In other words, no matter who you are pitching, or how (phone, email, fax, carrier pigeon) after giving it a go three times and sending you best pitch to them, if you still haven't received a response, move on, at least for a month or two or until you have new information, products or a new story angle. Otherwise you run the risk of being seen as a pest, and this could hurt your chances of future placement with the outlet.
In the case of the Today Show, stick to email pitches. Today Show producers are much too busy to chat with you about your product (just imagine if every small business or entrepreneur called them about their breakthrough product, nothing would ever get done). Instead, craft a brief, to the point, and captivating email that introduces you and your product, links to a photo of it or your website online, explains what it does briefly and how it could benefit their viewers is in bullet points, gives the price and where to buy, says thank you, and then ends. This should all be done in at most, a short paragraph and bullet points. If you can't explain why your product rocks in less than that space, it's time to sign up for some pr coaching and to work on your elevator pitch.
Look at this Pitching Example:
Hi Terrence (a Today Show Producer),
This is (FIRST NAME here) from (BUSINESS NAME here) how are you? I just wanted to share the BUSINESS NAME car seat cover with you for consideration on the 4th hour with Kathie Lee & Hoda, which you can find at (WEBSITE here). BUSINESS NAME is every mother's savior! It's a removable, washable car seat cover that is the cure for carsickness cleanups, leaking diapers, spills and crumbs in your car seat. Some more info about BUSINESS NAME:
* Where to Buy
* Unique Selling Point
* Reason it's a must-have
* Quick Testimonial
Thanks Terrence, we'd love to make travel and life better for moms and dads on the go! Would love to send you a sample or more information. Here's to Happy-mess!
FIRST NAME here
See how short that was? Everything is covered and the producers can quickly find out everything they need to know in order to make a decision.
Also - in this pitch, don't attach anything to the email unless they are expecting an attachment. Otherwise they may delete it as spam.
Pitching Kathie Lee & Hoda Segment As a Professional or Service Provider
This segment is more often than not packed with hot topics, news of the day, gossip, celebrity or well known guests, or products. If you have a great segment idea, you're free to pitch away as an expert, but if you do, be sure you have been in the media on TV before, have a reel (aka a video of yourself on TV), a headshot, a well planned out topic that is timely with what is going on now. Recognize that you're going to be up against national authors, experts, magazine editors and others who they often rely on for tips, and so forth. You can do it!
I Have The Best Product for the Kathie Lee & Hoda Show - What's The Best Way to Contact Someone at NBC?
Unless the producer and you have perfect mental telepathy in the next couple of days, it's going to be hard to get it on air. So how do you figure out who to pitch?
First, let's talk about what won't work:
- Sending packages blindly into NBC. This is a no-no. Producers are inundated with products, media kits and other packages weekly - some they requested and some they didn't. The last thing you need to do is send un-requested items to them. Not only is this a way to guarantee you won't be getting samples back, but it's not doing the producer any favors, it's just cluttering their workspace. If they want something, they will ask for it.
- Calling the Today Show assignment desk or main studio lines and asking for "the producer who works in on the 4th hour". The chances of this working these days are slim to none. They'll most likely ask for a name at the least and an extension number if they're being especially guarded. Because this entire process is a waste of your valuable time, here are ways that WILL help you track down that producer:
- Do your homework! Don't think that knowing in your heart and your head that you belong on the Today Show is going to be enough to get you there! It's your responsibility to research the outlet, figure out who runs what segments, how they run and even figure out what the "email equation" is for NBC (or any outlet you're pitching. This means, how do the staffers construct their emails. (why does this matter? If you can figure out what producer covers your beat and their first and last name, you can then construct their email and shoot them a quick, professional pitch). For instance, if you were emailing a Conde Nast publication the writer or editors email would be: first name_last firstname.lastname@example.org. NBC is first name.last email@example.com.
Doing your homework when it comes to the Today Show means: watching the show, checking the credits at the end of the program, following the Today Show blog (hint: most producers blog about their segment following the show, a great way to figure out who does what and what types of stories they cover on a daily basis), using the magic of Google search, and another powerful one many don't go for right away - just asking around! Whether it's a friend, colleague, Facebook or you asking a contact who works in another division of NBC for some help.
There is still one more highly effective way to get your brand, product, expertise or company in front of not only the Today Show, but like several other top local and national outlets, it's rarely discussed....no I'm not talking about getting a publicist (though this will probably help, it won't guarantee a spot on the show)...instead I'm talking about the last recommendation I have to help with your quest for not only the Today Show: focusing on getting your brand's story out to other outlets whether they be local or national that don't compete with the Today Show. The logic behind this is twofold:
- First, it reminds you not to spend all of your valuable pr campaign time focused solely on the Today Show - there are several other fish out there in the media sea.
- Second, it's important to keep in mind that the producers of the Today Show and other national television outlets find many of their stories via other newspapers, television programs, local news stories and these days, over social media. The more you build buzz in places like these, the more likely someone from the Today Show, Oprah, CNBC - you name it - will hear about you and consider you for their own programming. Membership with Tin Shingle can help you do just that via our benefits in Community and Social Sharing.
Tin Shingle's DIY PR Membership Program
The Today Show is not as far away from you as you may think - especially if your product is a great fit! Just think - for five days a week these women need interesting finds to talk about, chances are yours could be the one! Especially if you follow these tips!
Tools You'll Need To For A Better Pitch Kathie Lee & Hoda
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