Television stations are adding more local news than ever before, yet at the same time, news management expects each newscast to have a fresh take on the same news. In other words, a producer can’t take a reporter’s story from the 5:00 p.m. newscast and just plug it into the 9:00 p.m. newscast. It has to be different.
Let’s face it, there is a finite number of ways you can tell the same story. That is why producers and assignment editors are always looking for a fresh way to expand coverage. Finding an expert in a particular field (cyber, finance, legal, politics, medical, etc.) is a gem for producers to help fill the news window with valuable content.
Using Your Expertise on TV
Every day news is happening: The hack of a billion Yahoo accounts, promising results from a new medical study, or an unprecedented presidential campaign and election. Experts can help bring stories like these into perspective.
Here are three ways to get your expertise on television.
- Newsjack. Watch or read the news. When big news crosses in your industry, pitch your expertise to the local television stations. How do you do this? First, set up a Google News Alert for your industry. Emails will come to your inbox as often as you want. Then, once you know your industry is in the news, offer your experience and knowledge. The best place to begin is by contacting the news assignment editor, who is in charge of the local news that is covered (and the logistics of getting it covered) that day. For example: if you are a financial advisor and the Dow Jones soars past 20,000, this could be a perfect opportunity to offer your expertise. The local 5:00 p.m. news will likely report the closing numbers. But your interview in a later newscast could explore beyond the closing bell: how the Dow reached this high mark, where it goes from here, and what it means for the economy. A local, relatable expert is more valuable than a generic interview from a Wall Street guy in New York City.
- Be well-spoken and clear. Can you speak succinctly and in a way the audience understands, even if they don’t know your industry? Unlike a newspaper, where if a reader is confused they can always go back and re-read the article, you can’t do that in television. In an expert interview, you have roughly two minutes to get the information across in an understandable way without industry jargon. To prepare, practice talking to friends and family who aren’t familiar with your industry or seek out a public relations professional to help you with media training.
- Offer visuals like props, statistics, or video to help tell your story. TV is a visual medium, producers and anchors like to “show and tell.” Using visuals has a double benefit: they make the information more understandable to the audience and they can keep you, the expert, on track with your talking points. If you are in an industry that involves a gadget or new technology, make sure you bring the product to demonstrate it. If the device is not portable, offer video that shows how it works. In the financial industry? Bring some relatable statistics that the audience can quickly absorb (if you tell the producer about the stats in advance, they can create a graphic which will make a non-visual topic more interesting).
When the segment is finished, make sure you reconnect with the person in the newsroom who booked you to give them an opportunity to provide feedback. Also, confirm they have your contact information in their rolodex of go-to experts. If you can prove to have valuable information when news in your industry is happening, can speak understandably without confusing industry jargon and support your interview with visuals that provide context, you will be a valuable guest to have at a TV newsroom’s fingertips.