Are local TV talk shows more effective at promoting a book or a business than a local TV newscast? Evaluating options for broadcast public relations opportunities may depend on the type of event, product, or business message a company is promoting.
Marianne Schwab is a former national TV Talk Show Producer and works with business clients to get their stories featured in local television programs across the country. She says, “In today’s broadcast media landscape, there are two primary television formats for book authors and high level entrepreneurs to capture publicity – local TV newscasts and local talk shows. My clients come to me because they want to get featured on television, but they often don’t understand the good, the bad, and the ugly of getting interviewed on a local midday news program versus a local talk show. I work with them to navigate this territory and help them transform what could be a mediocre interview into a memorable one.”
Local TV newscasts typically involve a team of reporters who gather information, conduct interviews, and produce an edited video segment for the anchor to present on air. The anchor may also occasionally interview a guest at the news desk or via satellite and/or zoom. The tone is serious and the program has a mix of hard news stories and some lighter human interest pieces.
In contrast to local newscasts, local TV talk shows take a more casual and conversational approach to interviews and include a mix of lifestyle information and segments that include cooking, health, fitness, and new products, plus feature work-at-home and small business topics, as well.
According to Marianne Schwab, there are two main reasons that talk shows are a better option to promote a book, product, or brand.
1. TV Talk Shows are More Friendly Toward Promotion. Marianne says that local talk shows tend to conduct a more friendly interview in a way that can clearly position the guest as an authority in their field of expertise, “But it’s more than that,” she continues, “TV newscasts only allow one product mention in the interview and can be more into gotcha moments plus they’re often only interested in sound bites so when they edit the story together, they may actually quote your sound bite out of context so it fits the story they want to tell instead of the one you want or envision. Talk shows, on the other hand, will allow several mentions of a product as long as it’s not over the top and they’re generally open to working with the guest’s suggested questions since they want to produce an infotainment type segment. In news, this is not allowed.”
2. TV Talk Shows Have Longer Segments. The amount of airtime a guest will get on a newscast versus a talk show is an important consideration. “The difference between the time you get on a TV newscast can be several minutes less than a talk show segment, especially if you’re part of a taped interview in a broadcast. Typically you’re only allotted a 15-second sound bite as part of a 90-second story. I generally find that the news story will be too short to really provide the best value to the client. If they do an interview via satellite, our clients get a two-to-two-and-a-half minute interview.” She continues, “Local TV talk show segments, on the other hand, typically run three-to-five minutes and that’s more than enough time to give several problem solving tips that position you as the expert and end with a meaningful call to action that lets viewers know how to reach you or purchase your book or product.”
While local TV newscasts and talk shows serve different purposes, they both play an important role in informing and entertaining viewers. TV newscasts provide a quick and efficient way for viewers to stay informed on current events, while TV talk show interviews are geared more toward a news viewers can use format. “Over the past 25 years, I’ve booked clients on over one thousand local TV newscasts and local talk shows depending on the type of story they want to publicize. For example, if we have a client with a story that’s time sensitive and hitting other headlines like in 2018 with the volcano eruption in Hawaii, then it made sense to contact news programs because the event was already on their radar. We provided a Volcanologist for anchors to interview and correct any misinformation being reported so visitors could determine the islands were not threatened in the way some newscasts made it seem.”
By law, newscasts and talk shows are required to acknowledge when they use an interview that has been provided by a third party, like a broadcast public relations agency, business, or author who has been interviewed on the program, provided video, and when a product is mentioned during the interview. For that reason, programs are required by the FCC to inform the audience that the interview is sponsored content even if the person being interviewed is not paying a fee for the segment.
Marianne Schwab has worked as a producer in New York and Los Angeles and is currently the Executive Producer of CMP Media Cafe. She is dedicated to helping experts, book authors, and high level entrepreneurs land TV Talk Show interviews in today’s complicated media environment so they can promote their business, product, or brand in a way that makes anyone who sees their interview fall in love with them, their message, and their mission. She shares public relations tips on Instagram and has created an online training that shares her insider secrets to promoting a business on TV talk shows with details for the types of experts producers love to book as guests.