Interview with Paula Rizzo, Senior Producer, FOX NEWS
I was privileged to interview Paula Rizzo who is a senior producer at FOX News about how to pitch her and other producers to make yourself a regular expert on television. You can watch the video above or read the transcript below.
Christina: Hey, everybody. Welcome to Expert’s Corner. We are in for a huge treat today because we have a senior producer from Fox News who is here with us today who is going to teach us how we can become experts on national television. Welcome Paula Rizzo.
Paula: Hi. Thanks so much for having me. I’m glad to talk to you and to everybody who follows you.
Christina: I’m so excited. You guys know I talk about this all the time. I walk the walk and talk the talk. I wanted to share with you how this came about and how Paula and I are here together because I reached out to Paula on LinkedIn, which I’ve talked to you guys about before, but I had a different story to pitch her. It had nothing to do with me. I was helping out a friend. Lo and behold you then reached out to me and said, “Hey.” I guess you checked me out. Maybe you can tell what happens after somebody sends you something on LinkedIn related to your job, kind of a pitch, but it wasn’t a “me” pitch, it was an other pitch.
Paula: Yeah. Sure. LinkedIn is a great place to find resources, to find the people that you want to be connecting with in the media. Because, otherwise, how would you find them? Producers are kind of hidden behind the scenes. We’re sort of those ghost-writer types and you wouldn’t know us. It’s not like a magazine editor where you see their name when they publish their articles. For me, I love LinkedIn because I just think it’s a great way to connect. Other producers don’t love it and don’t check it as much. It’s very hit or miss. It depends. Even on my own team, I’ll talk to people, “Do you guys check LinkedIn? Do you get pitched on LinkedIn?” And then they’ll say, “Oh, we never check that. We never look at it.” So don’t feel bad if you don’t hear back from somebody. They may be one of those.
But I happen to like it and I’ve gotten a lot of interviews actually through LinkedIn. I love good pitches. I always tell people, “That’s your pitch.” When you’re writing, don’t just send something that says, “Oh, I’d like to be connected with you.” Give me a little bit of info. Give me a little bit of a reason why I want to talk to you. That’s exactly what you did so we connected that way. I have to say, that makes a person stand out. When they go that extra little mile. It seems like common sense, right, but so many people don’t do it. All they do is just send you the LinkedIn notification like you should know who they are and you go … You have no idea. You get so many. Producers are inundated with so much stuff, not only pitches in their inbox, but people looking to connect with them all over the place. So you need to stand out a little bit there.
Christina: Awesome. I’m trying to think. I think I said, “I know a lot of people” because you are a medical producer …
Christina: And that’s important to know what kind of producer you’re reaching out to. I think I said, “I think I have a lot of people I might be able to connect you with. If I could be of assistance to you, let me know.” Then we met and we met in New York. Now we’re doing this and hopefully other fun stuff.
Christina: Why don’t you give us your top three … the best thing to do to pitch you as a producer.
Paula: Sure. The first thing is to really know a little bit about the producer: where she works, what kind of shows she works on. Like you said, I cover health and medical news, and so pitching me things about politics or business or whatever. It just doesn’t work. You become forgettable. I instantly say, “Oh, you’re just pitching to everybody. You didn’t even look to see who I am or what I do.” That’s the number one thing, is to really hone in and see would this be an actual fit for this person and for this show, and understanding that is probably the first battle.
After that, I’d say, really understanding and knowing what the demographic is of the show that you’re pitching. That can be vastly different depending on what your pitch is. If you have one pitch that you’re sending to everybody, and if my audience is not moms who care about back to school lunches, which it happens to not be, I throw them out. I don’t go back and say, “Hey, that doesn’t work for me, what else do you have?” Sometimes, I do, but sometimes I won’t. For the most part, I won’t. Knowing that, a good trick to do that is to watch the show. See what kind of stories that they do. Also, if you watch the commercials, that’s a really good way. That’s an indicator of who their demographic is. Advertisers are really smart. They’re not going to be spending good money on targets that they don’t think are going to be the right person watching. They know exactly who’s watching that show.
Christina: That’s so funny that you say that because I teach that for magazines. I never thought of … of course that makes sense for television as well. That’s brilliant.
Paula: It’s true. Think about … I watch football a lot with my husband because he’s into sports and all that. It’s constantly like Viagra commercials and all that because men are watching these shows. When we’re watching a noon newscast it’s more mom-friendly or female-friendly, a lot of medical stuff. That’s what’s usually in that time zone. Just watch the commercials a little bit and it will give you a little bit of insight. That’s really important. Those two are really the big two.
Then I’d say, when you pitch, pitch me something. Have something of real substance to pitch me. I had someone the other day who actually sent me a good on. He’s a math teacher and he loves math. He was like, “What do you think of this pitch? Could you help me out?” I was like, “Sure, I’ll check it out.” He wasn’t pitching anything. He was just pitching himself. He was just saying, “Hey, I’m an educator and I love math.” He wasn’t even saying, “I can talk about this, this, or this.” You have to be able to pitch yourself in a way that it’s … Don’t make the producer do more work. Don’t make me say, “I don’t know what to do with you” because that’s what happens all the time. I get pitches from people where they don’t won’t give me … they’ll give me a little background. “Here’s my bio, whatever.” If you don’t give me an idea of what you talk best about, then I don’t know what to do with you. Instead of just saying, “I’m a nutritionist.” Tell me that you’re a nutritionist who works with women who want to get their pre-baby bodies back. Great. Now I know what to do with you. Very specific. You’ve sent me clips that tell me that that’s what you want to do. Just be super, super specific about it.
Christina: Awesome. Those are great. How do you find … Say, you’ve got a last minute segment that you have to do. Where do you find your experts?
Paula: It’s funny. I actually do keep a lot of my old pitches. They’re all in my inbox. Maybe right now I don’t need something on ginger. I don’t need somebody’s who’s an expert on ginger and natural remedies. But maybe in two weeks I do. I’ll just search my email for ginger and then I’ll see who comes up. Sometimes it’s good to get your emails out there because you never know who will get it, who will need it, maybe not now, maybe later. Producers all rely on each other. We work in a newsroom. It’s very collaborative. We’ll yell out, “Does anybody know somebody who knows anything about ginger?” Then somebody else will come along with an expert and that kind of thing. We consume media just like everybody else. We read lots of magazines, we watch a lot of TV, we’re constantly listening to podcasts. Inspiration is everywhere. If you’re an expert and you put yourself out there, chances are somebody will run across you because producers and editors are constantly looking for new content.
Christina: Okay. That’s awesome. I tell people that too a lot. If you don’t hear back … How many emails do you get in a day?
Paula: Oh my gosh, hundreds.
Christina: I tell people that you have to have that subject line so you can stand out. Like you said, you keep a file. You might not hear back but don’t get frustrated. Don’t give up, because it could just be a “not now.” I’ve had lots of “not nows.” I’ve had a “not now” come back a year later.
Paula: Yes, totally. It could definitely happen.
Christina: I’ve had a “not now” on national television that was probably four or five months.
Paula: That’s great.
Christina: Don’t lose hope.
Paula: Yes, it’s so true. You mentioned the subject line. Have something that’s attention grabbing, for sure. We get so many subjects lines that say, “Can I pitch you?” “An idea for you” “What do you think?” I don’t have time. I’m off to the next thing. I need something that’s going to catch my eye and let me know that I need to open this right now and that my viewers really need to know. That’s the big question that you need to answer every time you send a pitch is, “Why do I care? Why do I care about this pitch? Why does my audience care about this pitch?” That is what you should always answer.
Christina: I teach people that. I say it’s got to be entertaining to the audience. I always use the example, especially for television, what could you say for, “Coming up next?” What is that thing that’s going to make you stay through the commercials, people get paid a lot of money for that so if you could figure that out … The last thing I want to talk about, and I’ve interviewed several journalists about this and I just like to reiterate it. The long email versus the short email. What is it that you’re going to read, Paula?
Paula: In 30 seconds I need to be able to skim and get what you’re talking about. I’m a big list person. Obviously, I wrote a book about lists. Bullet points. Something that’s short. The other thing is that TV writing is very short and crisp and concise. If you speak to us in our language, we’re much more likely to get noticed. We’re not going to be reading thousand-word emails. There’s no way that that’s going to be happening. But if it’s super short and in 30 seconds I can skim through and I get it, and if you’re pitching TV, you’d better send a clip. You have to send a video clip of yourself. Even if you haven’t done video before, you haven’t done an interview let’s say, a major TV interview, send me a YouTube link of you speaking straight to camera telling me something about what you know. Talking about your expertise. Giving one tip or one thing. I need to see what you look like. I need to see what you sound like because you’re not going to get booked on TV without … sight unseen. It’s just not going to happen.
Christina: I have heard, because you work on a recorded show, verses a live show, right?
Christina: My very first television appearance was Steve Harvey, which is crazy. That doesn’t happen, really, to anybody. But the difference was versus a Today Show or Good Morning America, they said, “We don’t like to edit but we can.”
Paula: Yes. It’s live to tape.
Christina: That’s the difference, too, that I tell people. Don’t even try to pitch live, you know, Fox News, Fox and Friends, Good Morning America, Today Show. Because, unless you have some experience on television, they probably aren’t going to book you.
Paula: It’s not a great place to start, either. You don’t set yourself up for success in that way. They want to see. You should do local TV first. I mean, live, local TV is great. That’s a great place to start. Baby steps and all that. Yeah. Don’t be pitching the Today Show and Good Morning America before you’ve done anything before.
Christina: Right. Good. Because that’s very important and I want people to know that. You have some exciting stuff coming up. Why don’t you share what you have and I know you’ve got an offer for people reading this and that’s all very helpful in this.
Paula: Sure. I have a new course coming out. It’s a video course called “Lights, Camera, Expert.” It’s for entrepreneurs, experts, and authors who are looking to get media attention and also to keep media attention. Because sometimes you get the ear of the media and then it goes away. That’s it. How do you maintain those relationships and get yourself booked time and time again and become those go-to experts that you see on TV all the time? Because, you know how it is, you’ll be flipping through watching and you’ll say, “Oh, there she is again, that professional organizer. She’s always getting tapped do do these things. Why aren’t I?” Well, we fill in the blanks on that. Right now we’re actually giving away a free course. You can go there and check it out at HERE.
Christina: Awesome. I have read the e-book and I’m starting to watch the videos. And even somebody who does this all the time, there’s great stuff in there. Congratulations on that and thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate it.
Paula: Sure. Of course. Happy to do it.
Christina: Paula Rizzo from Fox News. Take care everyone. All right. Yay.
Learn More About Paula Rizzo HERE