By Roshanda E. Pratt
Television personalities, producers, reporters, anchors and news managers are more accessible than previous years past.
During my tenure working in television news eight years ago, the access to broadcasters was almost non-existent. I remember vividly working alongside reporters on stories. I had to field calls from viewers who wanted to chat with their favorite anchor or host to pitch a story.
Most often, those calls were transferred to voicemail.
This was not the media acting arrogant. Could you imagine spending your day on the phone? Television people are constantly trying to manage the clock. If you spent the majority of your time on the phone, you would get little or no work done.
This super-connected world has shrunk the distance between media and the viewer.
They Need Sources
Most local television news stations require their on-air talent to create social media profiles with the purpose of connecting with viewers who could be potential sources for stories.
Reporters’ contacts in their address books are a goldmine. For a journalist to create a wide network of sources through social media, it eliminates traditional efforts of making phone calls or meeting over lunch.
Instead, reporters can use social media and other digital services to post queries online and wait for potential sources to respond.
Nowadays, journalists are online, just like the rest of us.
Muck Rack is a great tool which connects journalists, their readers and those who want to get covered. Muck Rack has taken some of the hard work out of connecting by posting a big list of journalists active on Google+. Facebook has launched Journalists on Facebook to help reporters find sources, interact with readers and advance stories.
So what about your local media? I am so glad you asked.
5 Tips for Connecting
- Connect with your local personalities on the social media platform where you see they hang out the most. You can find your local media on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and even Linkedin. You’ll have to do some research to find out which media people use which social media platforms, but it will pay off.
- Engage don’t stalk. Say hello and create a relationship before you start pitching. The best way to do that is by commenting on their work. That’s why it’s important that you become familiar with their beats. Believe it or not, they are people too. You can comment by sending a short message to their email address at the station.
- Pay attention to what they might be looking for. If you can honestly help, make yourself available. If not, don’t “pretend” that you can because it can hinder the new relationship. Remember, no one likes a phony.
- If you do decide to pitch, don’t be rude or spammy. Nobody likes that. If you are going to send a message through Facebook, for example, remember that you’re not the only one using that feature. My advice: Don’t even bother. You have a better chance sending a message to the email address at their TV station.
- Do your homework before connecting. Watch their news reports to become familiar with their work. Go to their websites where TV stations often have profiles of on-air reporters and anchors. Read the profiles to learn more about them. Also, Google their names to see if they blog. A blog will most likely include many more details about them that you could weave into a pitch, if relevant. See how to find the name of a blogger’s dog, cat or kid in 60 seconds and journalists’ blogs offer valuable clues about how to pitch them.
Bottom line: Don’t wait for the media to throw you a bone. Instead, make the first move.