Just before the local evening news is coming to an end, you hear the TV anchor lead off the final story of the night with the same two words.
What follows is a warm and fuzzy finale, a 60-second slice of fluff that makes you smile as you head to bed. It might be a story about a worker from the sanitation department rescuing a mama duck and her ducklings from a sewer grate on a busy city street. Or an item about swimming pigs at a county fair just outside Chicago.
It’s called a “kicker” and almost every TV news show has one. I heard a story about kickers over the weekend while listening to National Public Radio, and I thought you’d like to know more about how the kicker might be a convenient slot for your story idea.
Kickers usually fall into one of several categories: animals, kids, contests, people doing silly things, and people making fools of themselves.
Corporations have found that if they can put an interesting twist on their news, the story might end up in the coveted “kicker” slot. For example, when Tropicana was holding auditions for “a fresh new face” to represent its orange juice, the story ended up as a kicker.
You can do the same thing. If you’ve sponsored a fun contest, or found a customer who has an unusual way of using your product or service, suggest the idea.
But kickers aren’t all about fluff. They serve an important purpose. The way TV honchos see it, if they can tease you with a kicker, chances are good you’ll stay on their channel until the end of the news. Then you’ll turn off the set and go to bed. The next day, when you turn on the TV, you’ll be back on their channel.
If you’re pitching a story that might be good as the “kicker,” there’s no harm in suggesting that in your pitch. You can listen to the entire broadcast on kickers at NPR’s website.
Learn more about how to get your other stories onto the local TV news. Shawne Duperon, a TV reporter in Michigan, says the first step is knowing how to track down the “Queen Bee.” That’s the person at your local TV station who decides what stories get on and which don’t. Learn how to identify the Queen Bee and pitch your story confidently and convincingly. Read more about “How to Get on the Local TV News Tomorrow” or order the CD or cassette tape.