Public Transportation

Tips for gaining television and radio coverage

  • Listen to and watch the targeted program before calling to pitch yourself, an event, story idea or commentary. A producer is more likely to book you for an appearance if, in addition to having a good story and being an interesting guest, you can demonstrate a familiarity with the program and target audience.
  • Don’t hesitate to pitch an idea to a station’s producers or news directors. Most stations are always seeking timely subjects and interesting guests to fill time.
  • If you are pitching an event or speech, fax or e-mail a short media advisory to the assignment editor a few days in advance. Newsrooms receive stacks of advisories each day; therefore, it is important to follow up with a telephone call to ensure the assignment editor knows about the event and so you can make a case for why it is important.
  • Be concise when you call. Explain who you are, why you’re calling and why you would make a good guest on a show. Describe any specific expertise, training or experience you may have that would distinguish you as an "expert" or knowledgeable source. Offer to make regular appearances in person or over the telephone.

    Media Tip: Translate Your Messages Into Sound Bites

    Television and radio news and commentary are brief, often distilling issues to 30- or 60-second segments using short "sound bites." If you arrange for an on-the-air interview, keep your messages concise, simple and memorable.

  • If a producer or program director is interested, you may be asked to send some background information about yourself, the coalition and key transit topics. You may also want to provide a fact sheet, reprints of supportive articles or editorials and a list of 10 to 15 suggested questions the host may ask about your topic. If you have made prior appearances on radio or television, you can also include a list of the program names and dates and an audiotape or videotape of a recent impressive media event or interview.
  • You can gain greater attention and increase the likelihood of being invited to participate in a talk show if you offer to bring an elected official or other community leader with you.
  • If you are a guest on a television or radio talk show, draft a few notes about the main points you want to make. Think of simple sound bites that the audience will easily remember.
  • Always present a calm, factual and professional manner.
  • If you appear on a call-in program, arrange for two or three supporters to call in with prepared questions. This will ensure that you have an opportunity to make your key points.
  • If the journalist or producer is not interested, thank him or her for the time and call the next media contact. Don’t be discouraged. After your initial contact, call or write a follow-up note. Work to develop a relationship with the assignment editors and reporters at the stations and make certain they know you are available and willing to be interviewed on camera.
  • If you don’t receive a response, continue to stay in touch by sending news clips and articles that demonstrate the importance of public transportation and your value as a spokesperson.
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