If you have adequately done your market research, you will already know which major publications your market reads. For example, if you are a business author, you know that your audience is likely subscribed to Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc.,
or a similar publication. If you are working with a publicist, they will already have a list of contacts and their guidelines; if not, you will need to do some research in order to identify which reporter/editor would be the best contact and how to approach them. Generally this information is available on the publication’s website, but in some cases you may need to use a media service such as MyMediaInfo or Vocus.
Once you have identified the contact, develop your pitch. Your pitch needs to provide a clear, single-sentence hook that will set up the premise or angle of the interview. The hook should answer the following questions for the reporter:
- Who are you?
- What value can you provide to my readership?
- What sets you apart from others in your field?
For example, your hook could be. “My name is John Smith, and I developed a five-step program for strategic management that has been adopted by twenty of the top Fortune 100 companies."
This hook is what you will use to open up your cover letter. Attached to your cover letter will be your press kit, which will give the media contact everything they need to determine whether you are a good candidate and will serve as a great starting point for them to develop their questions and angle.
1. Develop Talking Points: Most interviews will focus on a few basic points and angles. This means you can walk into any interview prepared, but you will also have to be ready to shoot from the hip if necessary. Keep your answers short, to the point, and free of technical jargon so a broad audience can understand them.
Basic media questions include:
- What is the title of your book?
- What is your book about?
- Why did you decide to write this book?
- Who should read this book?
- Why should they read this book?
- What authority do you have to write on this topic?
- Where can people find out more about you / your book?
Even if these questions are not asked, they are points you want to work into the conversation. Most important is the title and where to buy the book. In fact, you will want to mention the title and its accompanying website several times throughout the interview or appearance. Repetition is key! An appearance in which none of this information is shared is a wasted opportunity.
Once your book is ready for market, sit down with your publicist and/or your marketing team and hash out your talking points and sound bites. Learn them so well that you can easily integrate them into any conversation. Revisit them frequently to make sure they are still relevant and timely and remember: always mention the book and where to find it.
2. Presentation (Physical Appearance, Tone, Pace): Whether it’s for television, radio, print, or an event, if you are in person and in view of the public, you always want to look your best:
- Choose a professional outfit that is appropriate for the venue. Wear solids on television whenever possible.
- Practice good hygiene!
3. Etiquette: The world of media is a tight-knit community. One bad impression can hurt your chances of getting not only a second interview with that outlet, but future engagements at other outlets as well. Here are a few tips to avoid an etiquette mistake:
- Be kind to everyone. Whether you are speaking to the receptionist or the host, it is imperative that you be kind. Oftentimes the person in charge will ask for feedback from everyone who came in contact with you. Plus, today’s assistant is tomorrow’s boss, so don’t chance your future by assuming someone isn’t important.
- Arrive on time. Being early will get you everywhere. Even if you have to wait, it’s better to be on time and considerate of their schedule than missed completely because you weren’t where you needed to be.
- Keep it short and sweet. Whether on air or in print, media outlets only have a limited amount of space for your content. Respect their time allotments and keep your answers succinct to the point (which is why its so important to develop your talking points ahead of time). In broadcast, never—ever—speak past the end of your countdown.
- Send a thank-you note. Show gratitude after the fact with a handwritten note (if possible) or a quick email. Again, keep it brief, but be sincere.
Rochelle Carter is the President/CEO of Ellechor Publishing House. Ellechor is a publisher of Inspirational Christian books, including Adventure and Romantic fiction, and non-fiction/devotionals dealing with Relationships, Suicide Prevention and General Self-Help.
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