Making TV Appearances Count

It is not difficult to find Congressmen and Senators appearing on a variety of evening cable news shows including Hardball with Chris Mathews, The Rachel Maddow Show, O’Reilly Factor and Hannity. But how many people are actually watching these shows?

During primetime on Wednesday, September 29, Fox News Channel had more than 2.5 million viewers. MSNBC finished second with more than one million viewers and CNN finished a close third with 775,000 viewers. The viewership of Fox News programs ranged from 1.7 to 3.3 million people. MSNBC shows had a range of 542,000 to 1.2 million viewers and CNN ranged between 486,000 and 912,000. While these numbers are admirable, they drastically trail such primetime cable stalwarts as Jersey Shore, Project Runway and Sons of Anarchy.

Considering these numbers, politicians who appear on TV – whether primetime cable or local morning news – need to take it upon themselves to maximize their exposure. One way in which to do this is through social media. Minutes after a Member of Congress appears on a television show, sites such as TVEyes track the appearance, and place it on a Website. For a nominal fee of approximately $500 per year, staff can download a television appearance, edit if necessary, and place it on Facebook, Youtube and the official Website.

It is staggering how many offices do not take part in this. While it is typical to post floor speeches on digital channels, many offices fail to place local news and cable news appearances, which are more likely to be watched than a five minute speech.

Some Senators have taken advantage of posting television appearances online. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) posts news articles, Fox News TV appearances and local Arizona news appearances on his Facebook and Youtube pages. Here is a recent appearance on The Sean Hannity Show.

In addition to posting TV appearances after they happen, Members should also warn supporters in advance of going on air. This has two positive effects. One, it engages supporters who enjoy watching their Congressman or Senator. Secondly, it may boost the show’s ratings, which will convince the producers to invite the Member back for future appearances.

In essence, if a politician is going to take the time to appear on TV, it is worth a few minutes to ensure people are watching.

Ratings information is courtesy of:


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