News & Views

How to Pitch Series: Breakfast Television Calgary, Jennifer Baier

Jennifer Baier

Canadian local TV news and lifestyle programs often garner the same or sometimes higher ratings than their national counterparts. This is also a stark contrast to U.S. regional programming.

We explore this difference with Breakfast Television (BT) Calgary Senior Producer, Jennifer Baier. She’s been with Rogers Media (formerly A Channel) for more than 17 years and has been in charge of the Calgary edition of this popular morning news series since 2010.

What makes a segment idea interesting for BT Calgary?

We are in the business of helping our viewers wake up and get their day started. We do our best to present unique, visual, interactive, and dynamic content and try to do this differently from our competitors. A great spokesperson goes a long way. We appreciate their ability to show and tell a story over selling a product.

What elements influence whether or not you read a pitch?Untitled design (16)

If the pitch is addressed to me I will always read it. I appreciate that someone has taken the time to find out to whom to send their idea. I am drawn to a pitch that can hook me in a sentence or two. The shorter the better. Attachments, large press kits and USB pitches are not attention grabbers for me.

What is an example of the best/worst pitch you have received in the past six months?

We recently received a pitch for an airshow that is coming to town. They want to send our on location host in an airplane with a go-pro camera. We are working on those logistics to do this live but it sounds like fun and compelling TV! I noticed the same air show was on a competitor’s show and they did a sit down interview with a spokesperson. Not our preference.

Sometimes I receive pitches that are a bit of a stretch. Recently a PR agency representing a major bank pitched to have a financial advisor give tips on how to responsibly spend your money at the local music festivals over the summer. The advice was pretty simple and common sense and narrowly focused, so I passed.

Should PR professionals be incorporating social media ready content in their pitches for you? If so, what do you need?

I like to have links to websites and social media outlets to see what type of following exists. A good website will go a long with me.

What would you say is the biggest difference between Canadian and American broadcast content?

A lot of Canadian content has a grassroots and localized feel. In most Canadian markets, local morning television shows have higher viewership numbers over the national options. I don’t have the opportunity to watch too many American morning programs but it does appear to be the opposite. The ‘NBC Today’ type format seems to dominate.

In your perspective – where is Canadian broadcast heading?

Viewing habits have changed and we adapt as best we can. Streaming and providing our segments as post show web content is key. I believe there will always be a need for live local content and that we will have to evolve as technology changes. It is up to the regulators to make sure Canadian content isn’t overshadowed by American content.

Do you have any advice you would like to share with tourism boards on how to work best with Canadian media outlets or with BT Calgary specifically.

We love to talk about the hidden gems a city or town has to offer. If we are to feature a tourism type spot on BT it should be something that isn’t offered in our own city. It is best to give us a list of options with descriptions and website links. Calgary is a foodie city and BT Calgary loves to feature food on our show. If there is a celebrity chef from a region that is coming through Calgary with a new cookbook or is representing a festival, we’d strongly consider. If we have the opportunity to send one of our hosts to another city, we love to show off our host’s adventurous side. We’ve had our hosts try rock climbing, surfing, drive race cars and more.

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