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Public Relations Basics: The Segment Query

There seem to be an awful lot of people able to speak about their products and ideas on TV and radio. Have you ever wondered how people like authors, clothing designers or even hobbyists get a spot? It’s one of many public relations basics we will explore in this blog. Specifically, a PR aspect known as the segment query. Here, we will discuss how people who aren’t even celebrities use public relations basics to get on, for example, the “Kelly Clarkson Show” or “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Using these same principles, you can get on radio as well.


How to Get on TV and Radio

Generally, there are two ways this can happen:


  1. The Media Calls You – If there’s a newsworthy story that you’re involved in, they may call you. An example would be a touching story about a person who rescues a cat from a tree and gives it back to an owner, such as a neighborhood kid. They’ll come to you if they choose to do a segment about it.


  1. You Call Them – You can query a TV or radio show by phone or email to say you have an interesting story and want to be on the show. But it’s important to know there are many reasons they don’t want you on; you may be boring or otherwise not interesting or engaging to their audience.


Shameless self-promotion isn’t enough to get you on TV or the radio. The show’s creators are interested in ratings, engaging their audience and making sure they don’t change the channel. Your contribution to making the show fun and interesting is a major factor, but, most importantly, will you help them make money?


It takes a lot of work to get on TV and radio. The process is time-consuming; it usually isn’t successful unless you or someone you know specializes in it. There are companies that help people get booked on shows. If you do manage to get on the media, there can be a wide range of benefits, as it can help:


  • Become more interested to media producers, as you’ve already been in the media
  • Get customers through exposure and be more visible to your prospects
  • Use media coverage to build credibility in your brand


Media coverage can be a highly productive cycle. But to get to this point, you not only have to grab the attention of the audience, but the producer of the show as well. Your product or topic, therefore, has to be of interest to them, or at least needs to be presented in a new and interesting way.


How to Get the Producer’s Attention

Here’s where you need to do your homework. Is your topic or brand relevant to the show’s audience? Watching a few episodes will give you an idea of what their audience likes. Once you have a clearer perspective, imagine how you’re going to pitch your idea, line of clothing, charity, etc., and what your 10-second promo will sound like. Your promo is a “hook” that tells the media you are interesting and have enough value to deserve free airtime. If you’ve written a book on a topic or are a specialist, such as a child psychiatrist talking about childhood depression, you’re not just a random person. You’re truly an expert who can help people understand the value of what you’re talking about.


Work on the “Hook” of Your Story

There’s a saying in the PR industry, “It’s not the book, it’s the hook.” It’s important to understand the relationship between you and the media. They’re not here to hand you free airtime. They also don’t care about your book. Their goal is to make money and, if you can help them do that, great. If they couldn’t profit off what you have to say, they’d just make you buy an ad.


The hook of your story is more important than what you’re selling. Concentrate on the informative and entertaining value of your message, as this is what matters most. Your product is not the story, but if you are informative and entertaining, the segment is the perfect opportunity to plug your product. For example, you sell baby clothing. That’s interesting to many people, but what makes you stand out? If you’re partnering with a charity to give clothing away to homeless mothers for Christmas, here’s a human-interest story that will get attention, especially in a place like Los Angeles where there are many women dealing with homelessness and pregnancy.


What you’ll notice about most media appearances is the speaker will have a story to tell. Only at the end of the segment will they actually promote their product.


What Does a Segment Query Look Like?

Whether you see someone for the first time on TV or a familiar face, they have one thing in common—they have all sent a segment query. While having clips of past appearances on TV helps (the producers have some idea of who you are), getting on for the first time is very challenging. Ultimately, your appearances can become part of your press kit, but to get to the next level, you must start with a segment query that consists of the following:


  • Email Subject Line – What are you contacting the station about and who are you reaching out to?


  • Segment Title – As always, titles and headlines must be instantly eye-catching and relevant.


  • Hook Paragraph – Think of an elevator pitch and how you’re going to hook the producer and the show’s audience, all in a few short, concise sentences.


  • “Your Audience Will Learn…” – What is the takeaway? Once the show knows how it’s watchers will benefit, and be sure they’ll stay interested, you may be booked a spot.


A segment query, like your media kit, can establish credibility, “bookability” and expertise. Don’t be afraid to show your range of knowledge and insights. Think of the segment query as a vital PR tool that bridges the gap between yourself and busy media professionals.


Comms Factory Can Help

We specialize in writing media pitch emails, press releases and SEO content. But if you need help with writing a segment query or want to work with a publicist, our team is here to help. Are you ready to learn more about segment queries and other aspects of public relations? Visit commsfactory.net to view our PR resources and courses or book your free consultation today.


Photo by George Milton from Pexels