I have to admit, getting significant media attention for my clients is my own personal “crack.” Partly because it’s challenging to land, partly because I love hearing my clients’ excited voices when faced with the wonderful opportunities, and partly because I know I did a good job.
If you’re an author, I know you want attention for your book, so how can you make this happen for yourself?
One way to get visibility is to pitch your own networks; if your tribe buys, you can do just fine with coverage and book sales. You can also partner with others who will take you to their networks giving them an opportunity to buy your book or services.
Another way to get visibility is through earned, top-tier media, such as The New York Times, or some other top-tier media placement. This can be very gratifying because to get into some of these outlets really means you’ve earned it. They say no to far more than they say yes to. If that’s your goal, I get it.
If you are someone who wants to reach a broader audience, if you want to have those wonderful, cool media logos on your website, and if you believe you are the messenger for your message, then listen up.
This has been an amazing week for me as a publicist because several factors came together at the same time. Not only do I have incredible clients with fabulous books, but with regard to one of them, we pulled out a very compelling hook, targeted the right media, used the right vehicle for distribution, and the result was a flood of responses wanting to cover him.
Media bit because we pitched them a compelling story they were interested in covering. They bit because the pitch contained all the important elements that spoke to them. They bit because we offered additional resources so they could build out the segment or story. And they bit because, quite frankly, it was well written. I would summarize this by saying you must think beyond your own thoughts and ideas, and think like an editor or producer. What might they be looking for? They’ve heard it all a million times. How can you pitch your idea differently so that they know to cover it would be something unique that their audience will love?
That is probably the most important piece, yet the very thing that many authors overlook. I hear people get frustrated about not getting enough coverage, but rarely do they stop and think, “Hmmm…maybe my idea isn’t that good…yet.” I know your ideas are good, but presenting them in a way that sparks real interest is an art and a skill.
A few times over my career I have received a note such as the one below. To say it thrills me is an understatement. Just look at what this lead editor had to say about the pitch I sent her:
I’m forwarding this to an editor I think may be interested, but I couldn’t resist complimenting you on this thorough and well put-together proposal. Beyond the subject matter that our readers can’t get enough of, your presentation of familiar territory stands out among so much that we receive. I appreciate that!
I know sharing that seems super braggie, so forgive me. But I’m including it for a reason and that is to convey to you that getting media interested in what you’re doing is doable and possible for you, too. It is. Absolutely.
Side note: Oh, and by the way, I’m not including the editor’s name here because I am on deadline for getting this to my web person, Kim, and I didn’t ask the editor’s permission to use her name. In addition, some media folks don’t want their names shared publicly because they get enough pitches as it is, so I want to be respectful of that. Let’s just say she works at a major magazine.
Many authors come to me after working hard to get media attention and they feel defeated. Listen, I have times I feel that way too, and I’ve also found that sometimes that is when you are on the cusp of making it happen. On the other hand, little to no feedback can be telling you that your pitch isn’t right.
So how do you get that kind of positive response?
- Write a great book with a compelling topic. Seems like a no-brainer, but it really is the first thing you have to do.
- Think like an editor or a producer. They are inundated with pitches all day long. How are you going to stand out? That doesn’t mean your pitch has to be crazy and outrageous, but it does mean it should be well crafted, and targeted to the right person or outlet, and written in a way that they haven’t seen over and over again. You want to be unique.
- Find the right media to pitch it too. Watch, read, listen, follow. If you have a book on health, don’t pitch it to business media. –Unless you have a business angle, of course.
- Make your pitch concise. That said, if it runs on the longer side, then MAKE SURE every element is necessary. For example, in the pitch I made above, I also included 6 additional people they could talk to in order to round out the segment or story. 6! I do the work so they don’t have to. Do you think that would increase their interest? Yes!
- Be easy to reach. If you send something out, be available to respond. Don’t send it out and go on vacation. Don’t send it out and go away for the weekend. My best interviews often landed at 5:00 p.m. on a Friday. In fact, that’s when Oprah’s producers used to call.
- Create and have on hand the other pieces that they may need. They might ask for B Roll (What’s that? Read about this and other terms here), photographs, or another interview you’ve done so they can hear you and decide if you’d be a good fit for them. Do these things first before you go out to get publicity.
- Be positive. A good attitude goes a long way.
- Help them. This is not the time to make your own demands. (I’m actually quite surprised when I run into this, as I do while working on the Something You Should Know podcast. It’s quite startling what some people will demand…and it doesn’t work that way.) Be helpful. You know what that means.
- A one-sheet is nice to have, particularly for podcasts, but it isn’t going to be enough for some media. Again, I am big on planning and suggest you have all the pieces written and ready to go so you aren’t scrambling. Bios, Q&A’s, Interview topics, head shots, and other relevant pieces for your book.
- Credentials. Being an expert in your field means you have the credentials to be an expert. Make sure they know that.
- Self-published books are still rejected by some media. I see a lot of people say this isn’t true anymore, and maybe it isn’t in the circles they travel. However, if you’re going after the top tier, it often does matter. An exception is if you have the credentials regarding the topic, e.g., you’re a psychotherapist and you have a self-help book, then it very well may not matter if you self published your book.
- Be easy to work with. Nuff said.
As I am fond of saying, this isn’t brain surgery or rocket science, but you do have to figure out how you’re unique, what your key message is, target the right media, and make it compelling! Then you will be on your way toward getting the coverage you want, and impacting the world.
To your success!
Joanne McCall helps nonfiction authors become Media Darlings so that media calls them. Her secret sauce is positioning, securing, and helping authors to deliver compelling interviews and capture media attention through the various media channels now available. On a first-name basis with hundreds of top-rung producers, editors, writers, and journalists, she secures coverage for clients including Brian Tracy, Ken Blanchard, Dave Ramsey, Geneen Roth, Dr. Donna Stoneham, The Deepak Chopra Center for Wellbeing, and the founder of NLP, Dr. Richard Bandler and many others. Her Media Strategy Sessions help authors to become Media Darlings and her Media Finishing School gets them visible.www.joannemccall.com
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