Recently I was interviewed on a state wide business news TV program to talk about a new web-based startup company of which I am a Co-Founder. My interview aired on CBS across the state, and was also sent out to an email list of approximately 45,000 people. I am a 23 year old entrepreneur, so today I wanted to share some tips with other young business owners on how to land a TV interview to promote your startup.
- Connect to Past Interviews – The first thing you need to do is to be familiar with the program. You can’t expect to simply walk on to a show you have never seen before. You should not only watch past programs, you should find similar stories to connect your company to. For instance, if the station consistently discusses the cultural impact that startups and entrepreneurs have, then suggest a story that shows how your startup company is impacting the culture of your city.
- Send a Short Pitch - Next you should send the station a short pitch about your company, with a couple of different story angles. Typically, a headline and no more than three sentences will be sufficient. You need to remember that most news stations and reporters get dozens of stories pitched at them every day, and they are likely to only consider stories from sources they are familiar with. That being said, you should follow up with a phone call the next day and ask whether or not they received your story. This gives you a chance to win them over with your personality, passion, and persistence.
- Use a Video Pitch – Of course it is important to have a unique story to tell, but you can deliver your pitch in a way that will stand out from the crowd as well. I have had success with sending a short video pitch to the producer. This gives the station some level of comfort in your ability to interview well on TV. Simply be allowing the station to see you dressed professionally and speaking clearly about your company, they will have a higher level of confidence in their decision to interview you.
- Be Flexible In Terms of Timing – If you are trying to get a story for the first time, you need to be flexible. Breaking news stories will come and go, so be flexible in terms of timing. Assure the station that you would be happy to fill in whenever they are slow. This helps you get your foot in the door, so that you can continue to build that relationship.
- Say Thank You – If you are a young startup company, the station took a risk by having you on the show. It is safe to interview industry veterans with 30 years of experience in their business, but young entrepreneurs can be risky. Will you show up on time? Will you remember the interview? Will you dress professionally? These are all questions the producer might be worried about. So, at the very least, make sure to send a thank you email after the interview. If you really want to stand out from the crowd, send a thank you card. Recognize the station for their work and support of your young company.
Will one TV spot take your company to the next level? Probably not, but you gain credibility by appearing on TV. You will be able to reference that story as you seek to connect with more reporters and producers. The key take away is that gaining press on television is not impossible for a young company. With passion and persistence you will be making your first TV appearance in no time.
Adam Hoeksema is the Co-Founder of StringHub a web-based platform that connects university student class projects with businesses who can utilize these projects, and provide a real world learning experience for students at the same time.