Confessions of a TV News Producer (part one)

By Lori

Welcome to Famous in Your Field! Here’s your free weekly tip to boost your fame factor. (Be sure to sign up in the box on the right to get on the VIP list for free tips and training, delivered straight to your inbox.)

Admit it. You’ve watched a news story

on a business or seen someone

offering advice as an expert and

thought to yourself,

“how did she get to be featured on TV?

That should be me!”

Calm down, tiger. It can be you.

You just need to know what kinds of stories make the media pant with anticipation and deliver them.

And I’ve got the scoop for you.

Through the magic of social media, I hooked up with a media expert and then convinced her to spill her secrets on what the media loves in a news story.

First, a little about our news insider, Roshanda.

Roshanda Pratt is President and Lead Consultant at R.E.P. Communications Network, LLC. R.E.P. is a media relations and consulting firm based in the Southeast, consisting of a team of professionals who creatively partner with businesses to build their REPutation in media, marketing, branding, professional development and training.

Here’s why you should tune in…

Roshanda Pratt, former TV producer

Roshanda spent 10 years as a television news producer in a top 20 market in the fast-paced world of 24-hour news channels. This girl’s got the lowdown on what it takes to grab the media’s attention and get your message on the air.

In this post, I’m going to share Roshanda’s tips on getting media coverage.

Q: We’re all familiar with the anchors who sit in the studio, announcing news stories to the camera. Then there are the reporters in the field, reporting on stories. Tell us about your role – what does a producer do?

A: In the TV news world, the producer helps gather the news and writes the news stories that the anchors read on air. It’s an intense job – the producer spends eight hours a day to create a 30-minute newscast.

The assignment editor is the hub of the newsroom. He or she fields the incoming phone calls, evaluates story pitches, reviews press releases, listens to police scanners and communicates with personal sources.

Knowing the right person to contact about your story idea is the first step to being covered. Target the assignment editor, the producer and sometimes reporters.

Q. A daily show needs an endless supply of stories to feed the hungry news cycle. How did you come up with story ideas? What were your usual “go to” sources?

A: Every news station has a morning meeting to brainstorm and evaluate potential stories. Here are the most common sources:

  • Press releases – yep, press releases. (Unless they’re too long. Two pages or more? Forget it. Your news has just become some editor’s scratch pad.)
  • Newspapers – what stories are in the paper and how can they be adapted to television?
  • Sources – pitches called into the news room, police scanners, insiders with juicy information.
  • Competition – what are the other news stations covering? Can we improve on a story? Give it a different angle?
  • National stories – what’s happening in the national news and how can we localize it?

Q. Here are Famous in Your Field, we want to share our life-changing ideas and information with the world. If a business professional thinks he or she has a great idea for a story, what should they do to get it on the news?

A. Think about the benefit. How would your story impact your community? First, remember that television is a mass media. Your story has to have broad, not narrow appeal.

Second, television is a visual medium. What’s the visual value of your story? Do you have a product that we can show on camera? A video? Great images? Can you do a demonstration? To attract the interest of an assignment editor or producer, think about how you can make your story visual.

And finally, if you can’t make your story visual, consider that television might not be where you belong. Perhaps your place is in print!

Your fame boosting assignment:

This week, develop one story idea or pitch. Give it the TV news test: does it have broad appeal? Can you make it visual?

Now, get ready for your close-up, superstar.

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