15 Tips to Moving Into the Media Spotlight

By DANIELLA CRACKNELL

Over the years of working in broadcast television, I have certainly come to know some of those who have sealed the deal with a television show of their own.  I, too, have sealed a few TV development deals, and can now share with you what I and others in the business have learned along the way. But beware, not just anyone can land their own broadcast. Even celebrities don’t always score. However, what I know for sure are a few simple tips to get you started:

TIP 1: Be Naughty or Know Someone Who Is

 

That’s what my former co-worker Danny Bonaduce did. His bad boy antics  got him a reality show all of his own called Being Bonaduce, but you don’t have to be a tabloid bad child to do it.  By association, you too could find yourself the subject of a broadcast series. Take The Housewives for example!

 

TIP 2: Be a Rich Kid, Or Come With Your Own Cash

 

For some, being wealthy is something you are born with, and it provides instant access to reality TV fame. Such was the case for Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie with The Simple Life, and Donald Trump with The Apprentice. If you utilize your status in life, then you too can follow in the footsteps of the Hilton, Kardashian and Trump families.

 

TIP 3: Develop an Expertise, Unique and Original

 

Still going strong are the makeover shows. In fact, they are the highest rated segments for any talk show, so TV makeovers are not going away any time soon.  If you have a specialty, then this is your foray into show biz.  Existing on many shows are unknown experts from all walks of life, which is why big time agents are right now looking to fill this need. Are you the next home decorator on HGTV or a chef on The Food Network? 

 

TIP 4: Make New Friends, Those Already IN the Industry

 

If you don’t have friends in the business, then make some. Show up at a casting call and apply for the next big reality show. Your quirky personality may steal the show. Think Trump's Omarosa! That’s how one reality star I know did it too. From there, a producer approached her to host her own show. She shot a pilot and got a green light from a major cable network. Let that be YOU!

 

TIP 5: Solicit Celebrity Clients and Endorsements

 

Many people have successfully parlayed their celebrity clientele into branding themselves as a “hairstylist to the stars” to gain reality show fame. The best example is “publicist to the stars” Lizzie Grubman who stole red carpet attention from her celebrity clients as star of her own reality show called Power Girls that aired on E!. Who is your next client?

 

TIP 6: Be a Copycat But With a Twist

 

Network executives are always looking for the next best thing, something that can keep their network in a #1 spot or at least win the ratings war for one night out of the week, which was the case when The Bachelor hit the airwaves. Thus, the dating show revolution and a flood of copycats. Your single status may be your ticket in!

 

TIP 7: Keep Your Ego in Check

 

Production deals can come to untimely ends when up and coming TV personalities turn into modern day nightmares, before they have even hit the airwaves. So, be easy to work with! However, many divas have gotten their own reality shows. So, ham up but keep your ego in check! 

 

TIP 8: Accept You Will Lose at This Game

 

Pitching broadcast concepts is like playing the lotto. It is a lot of fun to scratch off the dots, but then, if you really think you are going to become an instant millionaire, like Survivor’s Mark Burnett, then you are setting yourself up for disappointment. This industry is full of more failures than successes. Mark Burnett is the exception and you could be too. Ignore naysayers!  

 

TIP 9: Have Friends in the Right Places

 

A producer friend of mine needed a door open at a number of leading industry houses, places where I have worked. His friend in the right place was me. At the time, making a phone call to a co-worker was easily for me to do, especially if that co-worker took pitch meetings. Often times, it is all in who you know. Be good at making friends, real friends! 

 

TIP 10: Cold Call to a New Friend

 

When you make that call, make sure you have your elevator pitch packaged and well-practiced for your introductory call. You have less than two seconds to interest someone so make those seconds count. If you are not prepared, then you have prepared to fail. Some production companies take meetings with individuals who do not have agents, but others require you do. A one-pager will be the next step, followed by a breakdown of how your broadcast entity will flow. 

 

TIP 11: Trust Those Who Give You Their Time

 

Don't make executives go through hoops to simply take a peak at their concept out of fear or your idea being stolen. You are lucky enough an executive will take the time, so don’t waste theirs. Being overly protective only annoys those you aim to please, slows down the process and severely lessens your chance for success. Not everyone in show business steals ideas and cheats their way up to the top, but it does happen. So, on that note…

 

TIP 12: Never Assume Your Idea Is an Original One

 

The only way to protect a broadcast concept is to make sure your idea cannot be developed without you. For example, an executive I know has a broadcast concept that only she could host; it is based on her life experience that not many could duplicate.  Even then, ideas are not protected legally and is the reason why you see so many copycats on the air.

 

TIP 13: Don’t Think You Are Anyone Special

 

Know that you are not the only person broadcast executives are dealing with and not their only item of business. Give them space to think about creating an opportunity to bring you into their world. The worst, is for them to cringe every time you call, which will happen if you call every hour and every day to follow up. Let them call you, and when they finally do, don’t fuss too much over the contract they offer you. Do, however, make sure a lawyer reviews it!

 

TIP 14: Remember, Patience Is a Virtue

 

It can take at least two years from the first time you pitch your broadcast concept to its eventual debut. Literally, thousands of decision makers are involved in bringing a broadcast concept to air, from the creator and production company to the network and advertisers. Your next concern will be the ratings. Keeping a broadcast entity on the air for more than a week is tricky business!  

 

TIP15: And Never Take It Personally!

 

If one production company says ‘no,’ do not get discouraged. Rejection is redirection. Just call the next guy!  There are numerous instances of 'passed' upon broadcast projects that later become winners on competing networks. Until that time comes, it will feel as if the media industry is as if you are gambling in Las Vegas. In reality, there are no set rules, rhyme or reason to getting your own broadcast entity on the air, so give it a whirl! 

***

…A tip that just came in: Get your show on public access TV!  It’s free and available to almost anyone, and it’s what a producer I know did.  He’s now in talks with a major cable network, thanks also to a two-page write up in THE NY DAILY NEWS a publicity friend helped him create. Another tip, have a seasoned publicist and packaging producer in your back packet, that's what we do here at LEONARD GEORGE.

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