Many of us have been there. Following the national launch of a health campaign, we’re seeking extension opportunities in local markets, particularly with seemingly “low-hanging fruit” like local broadcast. But what do you do if local TV in your target markets is dominated by pay-for-play opportunities and your program/clients don’t support such opportunities?
We all know that pay-for-play is not a new phenomenon. Many mainstream media outlets have been leveraging this format for years. Today, pay-for-play is also becoming more and more common at the local level – a fact I had not fully appreciated until I started working on a local market tour for a celebrity spokesperson about two years ago.
Like most media specialists would probably do, I cringed when encountering these local TV pay-for-play shows. I thought – that’s it, the days of pitching local TV are over, especially for anything for any story with a pharma tie!
Then, I realized that offering a celebrity or notable spokesperson could be a win-win for the station, even if it’s for “free.” In addition to helping us publicize the program, it helps the TV station build or maintain audience, which they need to sell paid segments in the first place. So I started pitching pay-for-play type shows for non-paid in-studio appearances. Here’s what I learned:
For example, following negotiations a few producers agreed that instead of naming my clients on the air as the program sponsors, our spokesperson would simply say, “made possible by pharmaceutical support.”
In one case, a producer told me she first needed to try booking the entire show with paid segments. In the end, she took our talent for free anyway, since she had a cancellation and a spot to fill.
While not all celebrity-driven local market programs are created equal, the bottom line is, don’t discount pay-for-play shows. You might be missing out on great opportunities!