The major media “gatekeepers” are very particular. They can spot an amateur in a split second (and you only get one chance to pitch).
Surprisingly though, most people (especially authors) think they are ready for Jay Leno, Steve Harvey, CNN, USA Today, Good Morning America, Fox News, Essence, Today show, etc. But they are not. What’s so funny is that the shows or publications they want to be on or in – they don’t even watch, listen or read!
There are so many variables to getting major publicity. It does not happen because you have a good book, a new product or a friend who works for the station or publication. Major publicity doesn’t even happen if you have a good publicist with connections.
It takes a strategy, a strong brand and information that make the media’s job REALLY easy. (Because they are so busy!!!)
Here are some things you must have if you want to be considered to play in the big league with the big boys:
- A track record. Most authors think that if they could just be interviewed on a major network when their book is released – they would set them up for major sales. Listen, a new book is not news. A good TV producer is not looking for the “new kid on the block” to present to their viewers, they want to score a guest that has some STAR power. A guest that has some juice; some awards; someone who has a following and people want to watch. So, this means you must start small, start local and then you can progress to regional and national. This takes TIME.
- A good internet presence. If you think just having a website is enough – think again. Everyone has a website. You must prove to the media that you have an online following and dominate the search engines in regards to your expertise. If you say you are an “expert” – the media’s proof is to see whether you show up on page one of Google when they put in that query about the topic. If you don’t show up at all. NEXT. So you must know SEO, have a blog, some Facebook fans, Twitter followers and so on.
- A concise, professional media kit. This is the hub of your information. But wait, don’t just throw together a press release, bio and some jpeg photos and call it a day. Think this through. Make this a tool that the make the media go “wow.” Meaning, there is no searching for answers, or searching for photos, or searching for video clips, or searching for current key facts or links. This is a living document that you keep on your website under a tab called “Media Kit” or “Press Kit.” But make it stand out and make sure your contact info is there and you are available 24/7 for the media. So, yes you must put a mobile there or your publicist’s mobile number there.
A good media kit should have –
a. A long and a short bio (in third person not first person please). How are they going to introduce you if they have to rewrite your bio because you wrote it in first person? Make it an exciting bio too. Have a one sheet too. This is info about you in a snapshot. Hire some to help you if you need it. Read bios of the experts in your field for samples.
b. Interview questions the media can ask you (because they probably won’t have time to read the whole book or do all the research on the topic you’re an expert in – so help them out!) Prepare at least 10 to 15 questions. Also good to have is a FAQ sheet and pitch letter.
c. Photos. Have an assortment of PROFESSIONAL head shots, speaking shots, full body shots and if an author, the book cover. Please have high-resolution photos available on the site for magazines too.
d. Previous media hits with links to video and audio interviews. Media begets media Also if you have endorsements – include those in the kit as well. They want to see what others are saying about you. So the more you show how you were featured in other media and seen by other people (preferably other experts), the more comfortable they will feel about booking you.
e. Radio and TV Interview Ideas. Think like a journalist or producer. Write out a show description or have a list of topics with bullet points you can speak about on the air.
f. Articles. Have some articles ready for the media to use for the prep of their story or to post on a blog for further info after the interview. They can be published or unpublished articles or even blog posts. But you want to provide them with background research from you about the topic you’re being interviewed about. A link to old newsletters are good to have included as well.
g. PDF of your book for the media to access in a hurry.
- An intro video of you speaking at events. Showing you speaking in front of an audience with some audience reaction. This is extremely important if you want to get book on a major network.
- A calendar of events. Media want to know that you’re busy – and have an active itinerary. Remember the media wants to book and interview those who are in high demand and have a strong brand.
- Lists. Media love lists. Become a valuable resource for the media. Create Top Ten lists for your industry. These are good for sidebars for articles they are writing. Or the list could be used as a “teaser” when promoting a show.
- A tight brand. Professional graphics. Professional photos. Professional website and blog. Professional newsletter. Keyword here: PROFESSIONAL. Not homemade. If you have a “DIY” look, it screams amateur. Pay a professional. If you want to roll with the big dogs – don’t be cheap with your brand. You have to pay to play.
Finally, timing is everything – but equally important is being prepared. There is nothing worst than having an opportunity to get major publicity and goof it up because you were not prepared. (The media is very quick to say “no go” – and it takes time for them to give “yes, it’s a go.”)
Learn to stay prep (become a student of the media) and continue to market and grow your brand. Strong SEO, a polished brand, networking and consistency will yield great results.