THE BOOZE BIN
By Laura Petrosky (@aushunmon)
I love “The Today Show.” As a PR professional deeply rooted in wines and spirits, I am a huge fan of the 4th hour with Kathie Lee and Hoda. It’s every booze brand’s dream to get on a show that celebrates “Tuesday Boozeday” and “Winesday” with two hosts who are disappointed if their late-morning beverage is actually non-alcoholic. Since Chelsea Handler introduced alcohol to the 4th hour in 2008 while promoting her book “Are you there, vodka? It’s me, Chelsea,” alcohol has become a signature staple of the show. Even “Saturday Night Live” paid tribute with a hilarious spoof.
In a country where local TV stations in places like Texas or New Orleans won’t even allow an unopened bottle of wine on morning television, Kathie Lee and Hoda celebrate everything from National Margarita Day to Oktoberfest in front of 2.3 million viewers nationwide.
Since November 2011, the 4th hour also gets repeated at 2 a.m. the next morning, averaging a healthy viewership of around 683,000. Can this get any better for peeps in liquor marketing, one may ask? It can – the 4th hour attracts the sought-after audience of women ages 25 to 54 and has a mind-blowing social media following. 369,000 Facebook fans and 36,600 followers on Twitter, to be exact (@klgandhoda).
So how do you land a gig on “The Today Show?” Two former clients of mine, a champagne and a vodka brand, each got their two minutes of fame on the most famous Happy Hour of morning television. If you ask me, here’s what they did right:
- Pitch a story, not a product: We’re in PR, not in sales. Pitch a compelling story that fits your brand message, while including some other non-competing products. Working for an eco-friendly brand? What about “Sip a cocktail, save the earth! Cocktails that give back for Earth Day?”
- Invest in an A-list spokesperson: After all, it’s national broadcast. Partner with established experts, such as the editor-in-chief of Food & Wine magazine. Stuck with a no-name spokesperson? Invest in local TV exposure first. The producers of “The Today Show” expect excellent B-roll footage of people they have never worked with.
- Know your audience AND your anchors: Did you know that Kathie Lee does not drink boxed wine? Get familiar with the anchors and their female-skewed audience before you even think of proposing a story. The manliest cocktail of mankind is probably not going to be the right fit.
For more general tips on how to successfully pitch the 4th hour, check out Sabina Ptacin’s blog post on Preneur.net.
Oh, and one more piece of advice, if you represent a liquor brand, always, and I mean ALWAYS, have professional bartenders on set when your brand will be featured on “The Today Show.” A producer once insisted that he only needed the recipe and would make the drink himself in order to save time. The facial expressions Kathie Lee and Hoda sported live on air when they tasted my client’s cocktail haunted me for a while.