Getting on TV can take work, or in my case- coincidental “luck”.
HOW-TO TUESDAYS: How LinkedIn landed me my first TV appearance.
Back in August, I had the awesome opportunity to be featured on a segment of Fox 5’s Good Day New York Street Talk. This particular segment was focused on minorities in higher education. I was asked to come on the show to speak about the articles I had written about black men at Princeton and black women in the Ivy League. I was also asked to share some of my own experiences as a black woman at Princeton. It was my first time being on major television and I was beyond excited! You can watch the video here.
So how did I get on television? What was my secret?
Well, there was no particular “secret” in my case. I would call it more of a coincidental case of “luck”. Here’s the story in short:
One day while browsing my LinkedIn connections, I came across a woman who I had connected with a while back. After looking through her LinkedIn profile, I noticed that she used to be a publicist on the Oprah Winfrey show. I wanted to know more about her so I decided to send her a LinkedIn message.
Below is the actual message I sent to her (I’ve shortened her name to “A” for privacy).
I hope all is well. I think we became connected sometime in the past via the Emma Bowen Foundation. I graduated from Princeton last year and was an Emma Bowen intern for 4 years at CBS. I was browsing my connections and happened to look at your profile. You’ve had an illustrative career thus far! One of your past job experiences in particular really stood out to me. I’d love to chat with you some time soon about your career trajectory within Communications and also talk to you about your role as a publicist for the Oprah Winfrey Show. As someone who is involved in PR and also has Oprah as one of my idols, I’d love to know how PR works at such a world-renowned show. What kind of tips would your give to a growing brand or young professional? If possible, I’d love to compile some of your advice and experiences into a short blog post on my blog “ranacampbell.com“. The site is dedicated to helping young professionals “shine” in their careers and personal lives.
Let me know what you think of all this. I am available in late July or early August or whenever is convenient for you.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
This was A’s reply (which came a few days later):
Hi Rana! So nice to meet you. I am equally impressed by your background and the work you are doing, which I reviewed when we “linked in.” Your timing is perfect because I actually want to speak with you about an upcoming show I am producing that deals with the topic of minorities and higher education. I was inspired by my friend Stacey Tisdale who wrote a piece on the topic for HuffPo (maybe you saw it?) I saw your posts about the “I Too am Princeton” campaign among Black males and want to speak with you further about it. Can we chat sometime today (Thurs) or tomorrow?
After that email, we chatted on the phone. A told me more about the segment she was producing for Fox 5 Good Day New York Street Talk. I agreed to come on the show. She emailed me taping details and also gave me a few pointers on what to wear and how to prepare.
Seems like a piece of cake, right! In this case, my getting on TV was quite easy, but it wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t have some necessary things in place.
Here are my tips for how you can get interviewed on TV talk shows (or stand out to talk show or TV producers):
1. Have something worth talking about. I’m pretty sure A wouldn’t have reached out to me if what she had seen on my website was not worth “talking about”. This is very important for those in the blogosphere. Does your work resonate with a particular audience? Do you have a particular viewpoint that can be debated? Keep this in mind whenever you’re writing. Remember, you should always be prepared to defend or debate whatever you write about so make sure whatever you’re posting represents YOU.
2. Publish Your Work. This might seem like a no-brainer, but I need to reiterate its importance. No one can read (or talk) about your work if you don’t publish it! Try starting your own blog. Or, if that doesn’t seem possible, write on someone else’s. There’s million of sites and blogs out there. There’s no reason that you can’t start publishing your work today. It’s a sure way to increasing your visibility and relevancy in the digital world. Using LinkedIn’s blog publishing platform has been a great way for me to increase my audience reach and also gain new followers! One of my blogs 10 Ways to Rock Your Next Interview got really good traction and has over 60,000 views to date.
3. Reach out and Network. I’m not too sure if A would have reached out to me if I hadn’t originally messaged her. At the same time, the connection between us would have never been made if I hadn’t connected with her on LinkedIn at one point in time. In this age , networking is crucial! You never know who knows who or what project someone is working on. Reaching out to new connections every now and then, even if just to say “hello” can pay off big-time. At the same time, if your goal is to get on TV, you can very easily research the names of producers for the shows that you are targeting. LinkedIn is a great resource for that, but a simple Google search can also suffice. In essence, don’t be afraid to reach out to people you find interesting. You never know how someone might be connected and what opportunities may be presented as a result.
4. Have a credible online presence. Talk show producers want to bring people on the show that are credible. This means aligning yourself with credible media outlets or having positive traction on your work is very important. Though I have been published on Madame Noire and Clutch Magazine in the past, getting my work on Huffington Post has extended my credibility as a blogger. Huffington Post is a name that rings bells in the mainstream media world. Are you actively pitching outlets that can bring credibility to your name? P.S- producers read these sites, too. If something’s trending on one of these news sites, you can bet that they want you on their show if you are talking about a topic they are working on.
5. Don’t Sleep on Social. This might seem redundant, but the biggest lesson I want you to take away is that landing on TV may not be as hard as you think it might be. If you have a blog, you should be on social media in some way. My favorite platforms to use are LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I use each in a different way but through all of these sites I have been able to build connections with people and built opportunities that may not have been presented otherwise. Building connections is what social was first meant to do, right? If you think about it, these producers are also active on these networks. As you saw from the message, A was also “checking me out” even before I reached out to her. Once again, don’t sleep on social. Someone’s always watching you so make sure you leave a mark!
These tips don’t only have to be applied to getting on TV. You can also apply these to landing radio spots, job interviews, speaking engagements, or any other type of gig. Also like everything, this process takes practice and patience. It just so happened that A responded so positively to my query. With time, I know you will also start seeing online success!
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