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Sneak preview: 30 Minutes With…Debra Puchalla

Got questions on how and who to pitch, or the types of projects Scripps Networks is looking for? We've got the answers.
June 1, 2015

With the third annual Stream Market opening Thursday, June 4, in Santa Monica, the StreamDaily team has been putting together a Q&A series that showcases some of our top industry speakers.

Our “30 Minutes With…” sessions are a returning favorite at the Market. The sessions feature some of the most in-demand online original buyers and commissioners talking candidly about their programming strategies, future plans and priorities.

Debra Puchalla, VP original programming and content marketing, Scripps Networks Interactive, gave us a sneak peek of some of the industry insider information she’ll be sharing as she takes to the stage of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel this week.

Got questions on how to pitch, who to pitch and the types of projects Scripps is looking for? We’ve got the answers:

Tell us a little about yourself – what’s your main job description?

To help my team tell stories and create the best original short-form lifestyle series, how-tos and social videos for fans of – and new audiences for – Scripps’ brands.

What do you love best about your job?

We start everyday with “What if we tried…”

Do you take unsolicited pitches?

We’re a pretty big company so to handle the volume we generally prefer to establish a relationship with producers and production companies and then get to the pitch stage.

What types of programming are you looking for this year?

We are lucky to have a lot of options – given our many brands, we have a digital home for all sorts of storytelling. We are always seeking innovative approaches and new digital talent to work with in hopes of making life just a bit better and more fun for Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel and uLive.com‘s audiences – plus all the channels and platforms their fans go to everyday. How this takes shape right now is a slate combining both high-end and more efficient short-form and even super-short-form how-to and can-do and crave-worthy videos. We want you to make where you live, what you eat and where you go more interesting, smart and lively because you’ve spent time with our ideas for style, decorating, DIYing, cooking, crafting, parenting, traveling and adventuring.

Who is your target demo and audience?

Depending on the site and project, our target audience leans female generally anywhere from early 20s post-collegiate to millennial moms and pretty affluent Xers and Boomers.

What are some pitching ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’, or what shouldn’t people do when pitching to you?

Do take a look at our sites and social to see what we have already done. Think about what’s there not only as digital content but how it fits with what our brands do on-air – how we might do something differently with you next can make fans’ experience on any platform all the better. Don’t worry about where you are located – we work with producers and production companies all over the country. Don’t think that a digital gig with us will lead to TV work; it might, but first things first. Don’t worry about whether you’ve produced for TV before; much of our successful content is related to what we do with shows and on-air talent, but we’re jazzed about all the creativity swirling throughout digital.

What’s the preferred approach to pitch?

In-person conversations are best but an email introduction followed by a phone call can sometimes be quicker and easier.

Speaking of sizzle reels, what should producers do to stand out?

When in doubt, cut it out. And every note of music and clean audio counts.

One final question: When’s the last time you stepped outside of your comfort zone?

An hour ago, which is exactly as it should be. Over the course of the afternoon I’d sandpapered a budget, shared our watermelon shot glass video, learned how to make glittered shoes, worked through a shoot’s timeline and pitched an external (co-production). Then I had crazy spicy Thai tofu and broccoli for lunch and was brave enough to tell them no rice.

Missed a how-to-pitch Q&A? Catch up with the buyers’ programming strategies, future plans and priorities here

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