Local TV news: Wake up! It’s time to talk about morning shows.

November 14, 2018

This is part three of a series on local television news. Part one focused on who’s who in newsrooms, and part two focused on a day in the life of a newsroom.

Morning shows. Folks turn them on to catch up on what they missed while sleeping and to see if they need to grab that umbrella on the way out the door.

When it comes to media relations, morning shows are often forgotten; however, that doesn’t mean there isn’t value in pitching a reporter or producer for a local morning newscast.

Here are five things you should consider.

First, a morning show’s audience acts differently than the one watching the 5 p.m. or 10 p.m. newscast. Typically, viewers watch for only a short period of time (10-15 minutes), with it running in the background as they get ready. Because of this, morning show producers love visual and/or interesting stories. They want people to watch longer or return to their show later.

Second, some stations are increasingly focused on covering what is new for the morning show, what is happening right now and what will be happening during the upcoming day. That means some content from the night before is often too old for rebroadcast, so they need new content and they need it now. This can be great. It means there is more opportunity for live interviews about an upcoming event. It means that interesting, interactive and visual lab you have that is up to something cool that day could be an opportunity for a morning show live shot.

That said, our third point turns to the pitfalls and downsides. While there is ample opportunity, it can be difficult to land on a morning show. It takes more proactive planning, often up to a week or more before the actual day. If it is a live interview, it often means you must arrive at the studio at 5 a.m. while short three cups of much-needed coffee. And speaking of hours, it can be brutal for producers and reporters. They often come in as early as 10 p.m. the night before. That means steady and consistent contact with these particular members of the media isn’t likely. Because of odd work hours, they have odd sleeping hours.

Fourth, this doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing. Even though you may not receive steady contact or it takes more planning, it is still worth pitching to morning shows. If a reporter is covering your story, expect them to be talking about it on air at least every hour, if not every half hour. That means your research, expertise, initiative or what-have-you is in front of a new set of eyeballs constantly. Depending on the news station, your story could have even more legs. It can appear in the noon or early afternoon newscast. Also, it will likely be posted online to catch folks who check the news on their phone immediately after their alarm rings (or after they've hit snooze 10 times).

Fifth, don’t forget about the weekend morning shows. These shows need content and are generally watched by a substantial number of people, especially on Sunday. Depending on the market, at least one or two stations book live interviews for their weekend morning shows.

So, there is definitely value in pitching to morning show reporters and producers. It will take more time, effort and strategy, but there can be substantial payoff: increased on-air use of the story and opportunities for pitches that might not get attention in other newscasts.

If you are interested in learning more about television newsrooms, reach out to Caitlin Hurley with the University Public Relations team at hurleyc@umn.edu.