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Jun 25, 2004

PR Interview: How to Land a Guest Spot on Bloomberg Small Business

SUMMARY: Bloomberg Television reaches 200 million households worldwide, and Small Business' Producer Sandi Kalman tells us she's looking for a wide array of experts -- from legal to marketing -- to guest on the show. Key: Bloomberg defines anything that's not public as small... so small may be bigger than you think.
Sandi Kalman, Producer
Bloomberg Small Business
499 Park Ave, 16th Floor
New York, NY 10022

-> Reach

200 million households worldwide

-> Kalman's background

Kalman launched her career as a producer at VH1 right out of school in 1990. Her next big job was as a producer of America's Talking, and then she moved to Fox News Channel before landing at Bloomberg.

She grew up in Long Island and graduated from Boston University. Producing Bloomberg Small Business gives her the opportunity to meet interesting small business owners, which she enjoys.

-> Current editorial coverage

"We cover any kind of legal aspects of starting and running a business, taxes, leadership issues, management, hiring summer interns, just everything," Kalman says.

She acknowledges that some businesses just aren't that interesting. "I very rarely do software companies, because it doesn’t translate to TV very well to talk about software. But I can't think of anything else off the top of my head that I don't cover."

The show is geared toward people who own, work for, or want to start a small business (defined as any company not publicly owned), and features successful entrepreneurs and small business owners in two separate areas:

1. Profiles of small business owners
Interviews with owners of anything from a mom-and-pop shop to a company that's making millions of dollars a year.

2. Advice for small business owners
Interviews with experts and authors. "This could be lawyers, accountants, anyone who's got a book about small business," Kalman explains.

Each show has four interviews. The show generally tapes in NY (though they occasionally tape at their DC bureau) Tuesdays through Fridays. It airs beginning on Saturday mornings and is repeated numerous times throughout the weekend.

-> Best way to pitch Kalman

"I will not answer the phone," she says, because it's constantly ringing off the hook and she'd never get anything done. She doesn't mind snail mail -- and if you have a book you've written and want to send, that's obviously the way to go -- but email is really the best way to pitch her.

If you don't hear back from her (and you probably won't if she decided not to use you), it's fine to follow up with another email, to which she'll probably reply saying, "Oh, sorry, I passed on that…"

Again, don't call -- you'll only get a voicemail telling you to send an email.

-> What Kalman looks for in an interview pitch

"If it's a profile of a business owner, it should tell me exactly what the business does, why they think it would be a good segment. If it's advice for a small business owner it should be someone with a background, and not just an author," she says.

But what she really wants is a "sexy topic." For example: top mistakes new CEOs make, a study on why CEOs get fired or an interesting spin on doing taxes.

The pitch should be no more than a few paragraphs; Kalman will request more information if she's interested. Attach a press release if you want, but don't make the press release the entire pitch.

5 tips:

--Kalman will open any email that has a subject line of "small business pitch" or "guest pitch." Follow that with your "sexy" topic angle.

--Though Kalman acknowledges that most business owners don't have TV experience, it helps if you have done TV before. Let her know that you have experience (but don't bother to send video).

--You need to be willing to come to New York for taping. If you plan to be in the city at a specific time, make sure you let her know.

--Press kits are better to send via email; if you're sending a book, just send it with a press release.

--Sending photos doesn't hurt, particularly if you're "TV friendly." (No, you don't need to look like a supermodel.)

-> Pet peeves

The phone is Kalman's only pet peeve. Otherwise, she seems pretty easy going.

Persistence doesn't particularly bother her, "unless I've been very clear that this isn't going to be for us," she says.

-> What she looks for in online press rooms

Generally, she doesn't use them, unless she's looking for specific information on a company, in which case she just wants to find the usual company info.

(Note: it helps if you don't strip out the PR contact's name on the press releases you post online. Hunting through sites for a contact name is a major source of frustration for members of the media.)

-> Becoming a regular commentator

Though she's not looking for regular commentators, she does book guests two or three times if she likes them and if they pitch a different topic that sounds interesting.

How do you get her to like you? Don't come across as too rehearsed. "I've dealt with people who were over-media-trained," she says. "They talk in sound bites. Also, you don't want to mention the name of your business over and over again because it sounds like a blatant plug."

-> Favorite professional publication

The New York Enterprise Report, Inc., and Entrepreneur
See Also:

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