Pittsburgh–Kim Coppola, the co-owner of Serendipity: Accessories to Express Yourself, doesn’t call herself a TV professional, but after 35+ segments on Pittsburgh Today Live (CBS), she might as well be.
In this edition of Store Savvy–a weekly column profiling retail successes–Coppola explains how she got hooked up in TV and how it has grown the customer base of her brick-and-mortar store and website.
How it Happened: It was 11 years ago, and we’d only been open for a few months. The producer of Pittsburgh Today Live was in our store shopping and mentioned that she had a cancellation for the next day on her lifestyle segment and would we be interested in coming on the show? Of course we jumped at the chance, even though I had no media experience or training! She wanted a segment on fashion scarves and we were thrilled to participate.
The Training: None! They didn’t prep or train me, nor did they tell me what to talk about. The first segment they interviewed me in the Green Room, which I laugh about today. But I quickly graduated to the full-on studio. I still fly by the seat of my pants a bit it whenever I go on the show but I’m very comfortable in front of the camera now. Kristine Sorensen, who hosts each segment, and I have a great rapport. And she is a Serendipity customer as well.
Assignments vs Pitches: The show will often call me with vague segment ideas but they look to me for ideas. They might say, ‘Do a segment on how to accessorize for summer.’ The key is that the show wanted me to bring the store’s expertise to their viewership. I will also pitch them my own ideas around an event, like the Derby, as I had amazing Derby hats!
The Cost: Zero. I am an invited guest and never pay. If they have models on the show featuring my merchandise, it all comes from the show’s budget. It’s been incredible.
The Exposure: At the end of each segment (segments can last from 7 minutes to about 12), they will flash the name of my store, address and also show a photo of our website with the url.
The Results: The show airs live from 9am to 10am, and we get an immediate bump that day from customers saying they saw me on TV. In fact, usually for the next 6 months I am hearing from customers that they saw me on TV! And even though it’s a local news channel, we’re not just drawing a local crowd. The station will put us on TV right before the Three Rivers Arts Festival (in June) or the Market Square Holiday Market (November and December), so we get tourists who learn about the store that way. I even saw a taped segment of myself while I was in Cancun! We have flight attendants who regularly shop our store when they’re in town!
The Takeaway: I tell other stores not to be afraid to pick up the phone and call your local station and pitch a segment! Even if they say no, sometimes they will refer you to someone else. Don’t wait for a TV station to find you! As my husband Pete always says: “Toot your horn because if you don’t someone will use it as a spittoon.”
Watch more segments here:
Store Savvy is a weekly Best Practices column on retail success stories. If you are a retailer with a story to share, email Lauren Parker, Editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 212-710-7428.