In today’s #TVTueday post, Ali Lucia from WCCO-TV, Minneapolis/St. Paul, is answering questions about her decade long career in television, as well as how to pitch in the TV newsroom.
1.What’s your background and what interested you in a career in television?
As a child, I loved watching the news and sporting events on television. The visual element and the emotion really drew me in very powerfully. I remember the Oklahoma City bombing and how profoundly the event affected me while I was watching the coverage. I wanted to read every story and watch every television interview. I loved watching Notre Dame football and college football with my dad growing up and thought to myself – that would be a fun job!
2.What television stations have you been at and what roles have you played at those TV stations?
Fox Sports North – Production Assistant
KTTC/Fox 47 (Rochester, MN) – 9p.m. News Anchor and Producer
WAVY (Hampton Roads, VA) – News Reporter and Weekend Sports Anchor, Sports Producer & Photographer
Dallas Stars – Host, Producer, Digital Reporter
Fox Sports Southwest – Host, Reporter
Big Ten Network – Freelance Reporter, College Football (present)
WCCO-TV (Minneapolis, MN)
Feature Reporter WCCO This Morning (past)
Traffic on WCCO This Morning (present)
WCCO at Noon Anchor (present)
3. What has been your favorite television interview here or at one of your previous television stations and why?
At WCCO I have really enjoyed all of the big sporting events that Minnesota has hosted the last few years: Ryder Cup, Super Bowl, and the Final Four. I was lucky enough to anchor live coverage for each of the signature sporting events. We also hosted many celebrity guests in studio. As anchor/reporter when you are able to be there and showcase to your viewers what is really going on, I think that’s the best part of the job.
4. What do you enjoy about telling stories on television?
I think the television medium really allows viewers to connect to a story in a unique way. The video and words can really curate a powerful story, one that hopefully has community impact.
5. You’ve been a part of television newsrooms for more than ten years. You see news stories be pitched every day in your newsroom, as well as witnessing breaking news taking over the day’s news programs. For public relations people trying to break through with a story idea, what’s your best advice? Go to a specific journalist? Go to the assignment editor? What time of day should something be pitched and/or how far out should something be pitched if it’s not breaking news?
I always think building relationships is key in any industry. Get to know people who work in your field or who work in each newsroom. The better the relationship you have with the journalist the better off you will be about getting your voice heard. They might not cover your idea or want to interview your expert as part of their story now, but they will certainly consider it.
6. When breaking news does hit and a public relations person has a resource related to that breaking news, what’s the best way to get that information to the news room? For instance, if there is a major trial and I represent an attorney who an expert on the topic of the trial (which I don’t) and I want to offer the attorney exclusively to your news station to provide expert commentary.
I think offering up an expert is dependent on the story and on the newsroom. If there is a trial, these are the questions I would ask?
Was the expert lawyer in the courtroom during the trial?
Are they well versed in the case?
Is the lawyer an expert in this type of case, whether it be criminal or civil?
Is their lawyer experienced enough to be considered and expert?
I always find “expert” sources to be helpful if I need help understanding information that is being presented at a trial. Sometimes we might not want to interview them for TV, but we might to talk to them if we have general questions about the case or story to dive deeper.
7. When you receive pitches in your inbox, what makes you hit the delete button immediately and not even respond?
I delete most pitches….
They spell my name wrong
They use the name of someone who works at a different network
They spell my co-anchor’s name wrong
They don’t put my name in the email
I can tell it’s generic
It’s not local
It looks like they cut and pasted the email
I could go on-and-on but you get the idea.
8. If a public relations person does not hear back from a journalist after sending a story pitch, is it ok to follow-up? By phone? By email? In what timeframe?
Absolutely! I think it’s ok to follow up via email or phone. If it’s not urgent then I would say give it a week and then follow up again.
9. You’re very well connected in this market (as witnessed by the fact that every time I’ve been on a TV shoot with you, you run into several people you know!). Do you receive a lot of story ideas from people you know?
I receive many pitches from PR professionals, community leaders, and everyday people. I think every pitch is unique. As journalists, we try to rely on a variety of sources and strive to be experts about the happeningsin our own community. I think journalists in any newsroom should strive to be as connected as possible to their community. I’ve always believed in the value of networking, call people you meet, follow up, get to know people. Surround yourself with people who are not like you, who come from different backgrounds, skillsets, etc. I love going to events because I think it exposes you to a variety of people you otherwise would not normally be around regularly. Sometimes the people I meet when I’m away from the office turn out to be sources, pitch me ideas about unique events/stories we could cover, or may know something about a top news story. Regardless, the broader your network, the more knowledgeable you become about the news you are covering.
Follow Ali Lucia on Twitter @Ali_Lucia or on Instagram @Ali_Lucia.