How to Get Yourself on TV

  • The Power of TV

    As seen on TV—it’s a phrase that helps sell and it lends credibility to your business or your personal brand. The average American watches more than 151 hours of TV a month, which breaks down to more than 37 hours per week… practically a full-time job. How can you get yourself in front of this massive and captive audience? The key, of course, is to catch the attention of a news or talk show producer. We spoke to a MSNBC morning show host and producer to bring you some of the sure-fire ways to get on TV and look good in the process. We also spoke to Amber Ettinger, A.K.A. Obama Girl, who’s managed to get herself on TV a lot. She shares some of what she’s learned, and we’ve also found a few other valuable pointers too. Photo Credit: Matti Mattila
    What Works, What Doesn’t
  • What Works, What Doesn’t

    We asked Willie Geist, host of MSNBC’s Way Too Early and co-host of Morning Joe, and a former cable news producer, what appeals to the people behind the camera. “You have to know exactly what you want to say—we don’t like talking points,” he explained. “Have a little personality,” Geist added. He said shows don’t like it when you come on with a rehearsed or memorized list of talking points… Instead, be yourself, and be concise—you may only be on the air for 45 seconds. That means every word needs to count if you are going to convert any of those viewers into fans or customers. “The long and winding answer gets you in trouble,” as he put it. Photo Credit: adactio
    Be Funny?
  • Be Funny?

    “Don’t try to be funny if it’s forced,” he also told us. This means that if you’re a straight-laced CEO or entrepreneur, trying to outdo a funny host who has spent years perfecting his or her craft is going to look bad. Just get your points out there. Be the voice of reason and let the pros do their job. Viewers cringe when they see someone who isn’t at all funny trying to keep up with the likes of Stephen Colbert or Chelsea Handler. Photo Credit: davidall
  • Persistence

    We recently spoke with Obama Girl, whose viral videos on YouTube have garnered more than 100 million views, leading to numerous TV appearances. “Just stay current and just have fun with it. If you enjoy doing it, anything that you keep trying and keep working on you’ll succeed in,” she explained. Staying current—doing something that relates to a national news story—is just as important as being persistent. If you can’t relate your story to something larger going on in the news, it will be harder to interest a producer or show booker. Photo Credit: lanbui
    Be Visual
  • Be Visual

    TV, unlike online and print publications, needs a good clip. Do something that can be told well in video form—a rally, protest, speech at a town hall or a public denouncement of a vicious competitor. Or show how your business is run… where your products are made, how they are packaged and sold and how you interact with customers. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Try a Press Release
  • Try a Press Release

    Paying a site like or to publicize your company or yourself can get your story in front of TV producers and reporters. Keep the release as short as possible—no more than 300 words. If someone is interested, they will contact you for more information. Your headline should explain why the story is interesting while the body of the release should have just enough info about your small business to get a producer hooked. Put your contact information at the bottom, including phone number and e-mail address. If you don’t know how to write a release in the proper format, or are having trouble coming up with a good hook, eReleases also offers a professional press release writing service. Photo Credit:
    Try Pitching Directly
  • Try Pitching Directly

    On-air reporters and bookers are always looking for something new. So e-mail it to them. PR industry publications like and Gorkana regularly post up-to-date contact info for folks in the media. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Get Viral “Lift”
  • Get Viral “Lift”

    Try putting your story up on YouTube or Vimeo if you can’t get a TV show interested. Post it to Digg, Reddit, Newsvine and all of the other social media sites you participate in. Share it on Facebook—and encourage all of your friends to share the link with their friends. If it takes off wide and fast enough, it could land right in a producer’s lap. And a small business’ video with ten or twenty thousand hits is more newsworthy than one with no hits. Photo Credit:
    Do Good
  • Do Good

    Helping out your community with an unusual fundraiser is a sure-fire way to attract local media attention. Plus it’s good for your karma and your company’s long-term brand image. Customers like to share the word about companies who do good… Of course, make sure the event is exciting and lends itself well to TV coverage. Maybe host a charitable auction or pledge drive. Invite some local well-known names or celebrities to attend. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Attend An Expo
  • Attend An Expo

    Attending an expo where you can promote your business’ product or service, such as the Green Products Expo, is another great way to wind up on TV. You see, the expo’s organizers spend months inviting media outlets to attend the event. You pay the organizers for a table or presentation space on the expo floor. On the day of the big event, TV reporters could literally come right up to you and cover your business—as long as it’s interesting and relevant. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Rock Solid Body Language
  • Rock Solid Body Language

    According to, “Don't talk to the camera unless you are asked to do so. Talk to the interviewer, or in a panel situation, to the person you mean to address. Eye contact is important. Darting glances come off as untrustworthy. If you can't look at a person, pick something to focus on. If you are passionate about your message, just tell it and try to convince the person talking with you. Gestures are fine for emphasis. Don't be threatening, however.” Yeah. Threatening viewers probably isn’t the best way to win over their goodwill, or their pocketbooks. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Don't Be Misunderstood
  • Don't Be Misunderstood also has some great suggestions for getting your point across: “You must be passionate and you must be truthful. You must not have more than three points to make. Anything that is to be edited later can misconstrue what you intend unless you have a few ‘sound bites’ where there is no room to edit. For example, ‘Smith Company wants to show Suffolk County they can come through for the Special Olympics,’ ‘The Dress For Success Program gives women the clothes and the confidence they need to be successful in the interview and successful on the job.’ If you get an unexpected question, don't answer right away. Collect your thoughts, and don't say ‘ummm’. Don't ever tell a reporter not to talk about something. Guaranteed, it will force them to ask about just that.” Yeah, don’t be shady. If you ask a reporter not to address something, it is the first thing we will address. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Recruit, If Necessary
  • Recruit, If Necessary

    You don’t need to go on TV yourself… you can recruit someone within your company, or someone else entirely, to be your spokesperson. This is perfect for the business owner who is too busy running the company to play the media game. The Obama Girl phenomenon, for example, was actually hatched by marketing guy and Internet television producer Ben Relles… He came up with the idea, and then cast the right person to play the role of Obama Girl in his videos and in the press. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Save Clips
  • Save Clips

    Put your TV appearances up on YouTube so that momentum will build. Show them to existing and potential customers as an easy way to build credibility—your customers may not have caught you at 7 a.m. on that national morning talk show, but if you send them a link to the clip, they can watch it on their own time. And tell their friends about your success. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    The next step...
  • The next step...

    Check out our recent profile story of a 2-person small business that grew rapidly into a nationally known brand, all on a shoestring budget. Photo Credit: HINT
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