Traditional media vs. social media: how traditional networks find guests online
A friend of mine is a producer at a major national television network. I wish I could tell you which one, but I promised them anonymity. (Many times corporate policy forbids producers consenting to interviews; such is the case here.)
Knowing that my friend (I’ll call him “John”) uses Facebook and other social media spaces for finding guests, I wanted some “insider thoughts” to what a producer looks for in social media spaces when considering a guest and how they find them. Here are his responses:
Q: Which social media spaces do you enter and watch for possible guests? Do you have one “main” one?
A: Facebook–more than anything, YouTube, Myspace (if I am looking for a younger demographic)
Q: How do you find guests online? Do you enter conversations, events, groups?
A: I look at main newsgathering websites several times during the day (Fark.com, LA Times, NY Daily News, AOLnews online, Drudge Report, WESH TV, TMZ, Relevant Magazine, Momlogic….to name a few.) I request to be on alert lists that are sent out to media. I do not enter chat room conversations or events, however I do search out groups that may have spokespersons that can act as experts in their area of interest.
Q: Why do you look online for guests?
A: Online guests are easiest to find, and in my business the first and best is what gets on the air…if I find you quicker, have your bio in a click, and know how to reach you/your publicist…you are on air within 24 hours or less. I can usually also see pictures, other appearances/video online–so I can skip some legwork of having to interview to see if they are good talkers, etc. Online research is the first tool–before I use the phone and many times even the company database.
Q: What are you looking for in a guest? How does this translate to the online world? (In other words, what things can an expert/author/person say/do in order to grab a producer’s interest?)
A: I am looking for a guest that is interesting to watch, looking for more people of color, looking for great talkers, someone who can really open up the conversation, energetic, opinionated, quick to respond and engage.
Q: Do producers at the same show collaborate on finding guests or “divide and conquer” – one tracks twitter, one tracks FB, one track’s newspapers, etc.
A: We do collaborate and discuss/share guests–but we all track newsgathering agencies, social networks…we are not divided.
Q: Any other advice or tips you have for people who enter social media spaces to try to get booked on a national show?
A: The people that get on air the most have publicists that send out frequent emails with a picture of the guest they are offering, and how they can talk to a news story featured that day. (Julie: I promise I DID NOT tell him to say that!) IE…if we are doing a story on Lindsay Lohan going to Rehab, a great email to get would be that of an author/addictions expert that can talk to the struggles Lindsay will face and how she can best triumph over her addictions. The more available you are, the more often you will get on a show. Once you are on a show, if you do well, keep in touch and soon enough the other shows will come calling.
Thanks “John” for that great advice! And readers make sure you heed his advice and have video, photos, contact information, your bio and your message, any and everywhere online to advance your chances of being a guest on a national show. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post them. I’d love to hear from you.