There is no shortage of producer titles in television – associate producers, segment producers, senior producers, executive producers, line producers, and so on. It can be daunting to identify just exactly who you are looking for when pitching a segment. Each producer is in charge of different tasks and no matter how perfectly crafted a pitch may be, if it is not in front of the right person, it will not be successful.
In this series we will be examining the roles of the various people that contribute to the making of television news and when to contact them for your media relations needs. Below we discuss the role of the booking producer.
What do booking producers do?
Booking producers are in charge of producing guest segments. Some networks may title these individuals simply as “guest bookers” or have a mixture of guest bookers and booking producers, assigning titles based on experience and/or seniority.
Guest segments can be pre-taped, or live, but often only air for three to five minutes. They are usually conducted in a question-and-answer format with the anchor interacting directly with the guest in studio, or via satellite camera and interruptible foldback piece (more simply known as “IFB” – an interruptible foldback is an earpiece that allows anchors, guests and those in the control room to communicate immediately and easily).
Booking producers will vet and book the appropriate guest for a segment, conduct a pre-interview to gather talking points, and help the guest prepare. Additionally, a booking producer may write segment introductions, as well as gather and create any on-screen elements that will be used, among many other duties.
When to contact a booking producer with a pitch?
Booking producers should only be contacted if you are pitching an individual. You should not contact a booking producer if you are pitching a topic or segment idea (in later installments of this series, we will discuss who to approach with those types of suggestions.) However, if you are offering a guest to speak on a specific topic, it is appropriate to pitch the topic or segment idea to the booking producer.
Booking producers are especially open to pitches if you have an expert available to speak on a breaking news scenario. In this case, be sure that your guest is immediately available and can conveniently make it to studio or third party liveshot facility.
In future installments of “Pitching the Producers,” we will examine the roles of various producers and how you can be successful when pitching them!