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November 14, 2014 / The_Mike_Johnson

How to Get Your Guest, Book, or Story on Variety and ABC News Nightline

varietyThe New York and Los Angeles chapters of the Public Relations Society held a Google Hangout that featured Andrew Wallenstein from Variety and Steve Baker from ABC News Nightline and provided insight for the best ways to get Variety and ABC News Nightline to cover your client, book or story.

Starting as a weekly entertainment trade magazine in 1905  and debuting online in 1998, Variety can now be accessed via wireless with Variety On-The-Go available as an app for the iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows phone.

As the Co-Editor-in-Chief at VarietyAndrew Wallenstein advises PR pros to know the publications and the people at those publications in regards to what they do, what they cover, and understand what is relevant in the news cycle of each publication. Andrew believes that the most effective pitch is when a publicist knows what the reporter or writer writes about, what interests him, and if you come to Andrew with something that reflects those interests at the very least he will will get back to you promptly since that publicist has taken the time to take Andrew seriously. And what are those things of interest to Andrew? He has a track record going back many years of all the things he has covered.

When emailing your pitch Andrew suggests answering, “How can I make this headline stand out?” and make your email subject line clear by not dressing it up. Otherwise, Andrew warns, he will unspin whatever you are trying to spin. Attaching photos in the email is irrelevant to him since most photos are large files that get deleted without being seen. Andrew is open to a lunch meeting if a publicist would like discuss a future idea, but don’t pull a bait and switch where we talk about interviewing one specific person and end up speaking with someone different. Also think about a different angle when covering certain topics that may be seen as overexposed. Andrew cited how the Kim Kardashian mobile game was a huge financial success  and there may be an instinct from those in the media that may hold up their nose to certain things but there can be a story underneath that.

You can follow Andrew Wallenstein on Twitter @awallenstein

As the Senior Producer at ABC News Nightline,  Steve Baker feels a great pitch is tailored to the types of stories and topics Niteline covers such as  character driven narratives. Since Nightline competes against 60 Minutes/CBS This Morning Steve appreciates publicists that provide their clients with more time to conduct the interview as those guests open up and share unique stories for Nightline. Steve’s favorite kinds of stories have strong emotional story lines where people can connect to and a side of the interviewee has not been seen before.

When emailing pitches Steve recommends a personalized email such as “we saw your show the other day and feel our client has a great story about…” otherwise mass emails become overwhelming. Avoid pitching him on a Friday afternoon but Steve accepts attached photo files and trackable links in the email.  If your guest will be doing other programs prior to Nightline it is best to be upfront and let Steve know.

You can follow Steve Baker on Twitter @stevenrbaker

If you would like to watch the entire panel click here.

You may also be interested in these posts:

How to Get the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Businessweek to Cover Your Story, Book, or Guest

How to Get Your Story or Event on New York News Shows

How to Get the Associated Press to Cover Your Story, Book, or Client

How to Get Your Client or Book on CNBC, Huffington Post Live, The Chew, and Better TV

How to Get Your Story or Event On Television and Radio Shows

How to Get Your Guest or Book on Rachel Ray and CBS This Morning Saturday

How to Get Your Story, Event or Client on Bloomberg TV


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