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The TV, eh? Blogtalkradio show started and continues as an experiment, a way for me to play with an Internet toy and create another avenue to talk about Canadian shows and fodder for interview-based articles.

One thing I’ve learned: I hate my giggle. To quote my tactful sometimes-co-host brother: “It’s like the show is hosted by a Japanese schoolgirl.” But the more important thing I’ve learned: bypassing network publicists is the only way to get anything done. The surprising sort-of exception is CBC’s outsourced PR company, Media Profile, who have really stepped up since the TV, eh? site finally made it onto their radar.

My rule #1 of landing a Canadian TV interview: go directly to the source, whether it’s the interviewee or the production company responsible for the show. PR agencies hired by production companies have been amazingly helpful, too. Network PR people? Avoid like the plague.

I wouldn’t blame anyone for not wanting to do an interview. I do blame the networks for not allowing the choice to do an interview. In an industry plagued by a paucity of publicity, they’re gatekeepers for people who are eager to open the gates, people who put their efforts into shows so few Canadians have heard of. How many other media opportunities are lost because the networks won’t respond to requests on time, or even at all? I know it’s not just a TV, eh? problem; I know there are mainstream reporters with the same complaint, reporters who have stricter deadlines to meet.

I’m not naming names because I’d love for things to get better, not worse, but here’s a few frustrating examples:

  1. There’s the network publicist whose response to my interview request gave me the impression she’d never heard of TV, eh?, even though media releases have been coming to the site from her email address for two years. I’ve heard nothing since sending site information months ago. I have contacted production companies responsible for shows on that network, had immediate positive responses, and those interviews went ahead anyway. For shows where I can’t find alternate contact information, I give up.
  2. I contacted a network publicist for an interview. He said he would pass the request on to the unit publicist for the show. Silence. I contacted the unit publicist directly. Silence. Over a month after the initial request, I contacted my desired interviewee directly and the interview was set up within a day. The day after that, I got an email from the unit publicist offering to set up the interview … the interview that I had just set up myself. And yes, she knew that I’d already set it up.
  3. Another dirty little secret: when comments come through the TV, eh? site, I see the IP address it originated from. Some of those glowing “fan” comments responding belligerently to negative comments have come from the IP of the network that airs the show.

Since I’ve learned so much from these experiences, here’s my small tip for the industry: maybe it’s time to put some of that reactionary energy into publicizing the show in the first place, so more actual viewers can form an opinion about it and perhaps leave comments that aren’t feeble attempts at PR disguised as fan reaction.