One powerful way to promote your books is to get media attention, but if you’re new to publicity, you may not yet know what it takes to book and deliver interviews. Following are mistakes you can avoid and some key best practices to boost success.
- Forget to focus on the audience. A media pitch should never be about you or your book. It should focus on the value you bring to the audience. So instead of saying, “Let me tell you all about my book…”, try this: “Here are 5 ways your audience can [save money, live better, improve relationships, etc.]. Always craft media pitches that meet the needs and interests of the audience.
- Miss out on a news tie-in. One fantastic way to get media coverage is to connect your expertise with current events. Let’s say you’ve authored a leadership book and there is a top news story about the demise of a big company due to controversy. This is an opportunity for you to reach out and let producers, editors, and journalists know that you’re an expert on leadership and you would like to share some perspectives based on this top story. Keep an eye on current news and know how you’re expertise can contribute to the conversation.
- Be hard to reach. Unfortunately, I learned this lesson the hard way. Several years ago, I had an interview opportunity with the New York Times, but my son and I were home sick that day and I didn’t get around to checking messages until the next day. News cycles move quickly and unfortunately, the writer found another source in my absence. The opportunity evaporated as fast as it arrived. If you’re doing any kind of active media outreach, make sure you’re going to be generally available every day in the weeks following.
- Fumble over talking points. This is another mistake I learned the hard way after sending out my very first press release and receiving a call from a news reporter the same day. I didn’t have any prepared answers. I hadn’t anticipated her questions. I did a terrible job of dropping in sound bites that would promote my book. Make sure to anticipate the questions you will be asked and how you will answer them.
- Get a case of the jibber jabber. When we’re passionate about a topic, it’s easy to get excited and over-talk, but you never want to do this while being interviewed, especially on radio or television. Instead, keep pace with the host. These interviews usually move at lightning speed so your answers should be succinct and to the point. This is yet another reason why it’s best to anticipate questions and develop answers in advance. Remember to always keep answers brief and on pace with the host.
- Fail to do your homework. Before serving as a guest on a radio show, podcast, or television show, tune into the program. Get to know the format and the host. This will help you understand what to expect during your guest appearance and can give you an advantage because you can see how the host handles the pace of the questions and answers. Always watch or listen to a show prior to serving as a guest.
- Forget to follow up. After you’ve been interviewed, whether for an article or show, always take time to circle back with the producer/report/host and show your thanks. Let them know you’re available for future interviews. Even better, suggest a few follow-up topics you could cover next time. Media professionals need sources they can rely on. When you do a good job and remind them you’re a trusted source, you can build lasting relationships that lead to future interview opportunities.
- Ignore media altogether. Every author has something to contribute to the media. Whether your topic is about raising hairless cats, the history of the city where you live, or you write personal essays about growing up in a dysfunctional family, I promise you there are publications, podcasts, radio shows, and TV appearance opportunities. The key is to find the programs and publications that reach your target audience and deliver a pitch that the audience will enjoy.
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