How to Get Your Product Featured on a Reality TV Show
No matter how you feel about reality TV, getting a product featured on a popular show can be a major boon for your company. After Maine-based Kids Crooked House’s custom playhouses appeared on Jon and Kate Plus 8 in 2009, the company was overwhelmed by its newfound popularity. "Within 60 seconds of Kate [Gosselin] saying the phrase 'crooked houses' on TV last night, there were 170,000 visitors to our website," co-owner Glen Halliday told ABC News at the time. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the delivery arrived just as Jon and Kate announced their separation, which became the show's most-watched episode ever.
So, how do you get the Gosselin kids to play with your toys (or, say, a Basketball Wife to use your moisturizer) on national TV? Here are five tips for getting reality TV producers’ attention.
- Watch a lot of reality TV. If you want to know which shows may be open to receiving your product, you need to understand the stars’ demographics. Find out what products they’re using — and whether the shows in question do unpaid product placements. (At the end of the show's credits, check for a "promotional consideration" message from companies whose products appear. If there isn't one, the placements are probably unsponsored.) Set up your DVR to record everything that could be a fit, and start taking notes: This is market research, really!
- Track down the producers. Once you’ve sussed out which shows might be interested in your product, figure out how to get in touch with their executive producers. Writers Write features links to a wide variety of production companies whose contact information may be on their websites. If you can’t find the details you need, spring for a LinkedIn premium membership; this will allow you to search by production company and contact relevant people with LinkedIn profiles (even if you don’t know their email addresses). Facebook is worth a shot, too.
- Craft a compelling pitch. Reality TV is all about drama — and that’s important when it comes to your company, too. If you have a great story about starting your business while you were living out of your car, don’t be afraid to share it. Showcase your product’s uses, provide case studies from happy customers, and send high-resolution photographs and free samples whenever possible.
- Promote your product’s appearance. If an executive producer decides to show your product on TV, you won’t have any say in how the footage appears, so focus on your own promotional efforts. Send out a newsletter and put a notice on your website in advance of the show, asking customers and other contacts to check it out. This national exposure also gives you a hook for snaring more media coverage; reach out to local and national publications and propose an article about your business. However, producers often make last-minute cuts, so don't go overboard until you've gotten a confirmation from the producer that your product will be on air.
- Get ready for a surge in sales. When it’s time for the show to air, you’ll need to prepare for the increase in sales and interest that the product's appearance may spur. Make sure your website host is set up to handle thousands of hits at once, stock up on inventory, and consider hiring temporary staff to help with customer service.
Kathryn Hawkins is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.