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Monday, April 21, 2014

THE KILLER RADIO PITCH LETTER FOR AUTHORS


Power radio PR begins with your attitude, your effort, your contact list – as well as timing, luck and a good book.  And a strong cup of java.  But it also starts with your pitch letter.

You know what the pitch letter is, because every producer insists you send one just so you can send it and they can say they didn’t get it.  But it’s a necessary and vital tool of the trade.  

REMEMBER, NOT ALL RADIO PRODUCERS GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL
Do not forget who your audience is.  First, your audience is the radio station’s audience.  What are the demographics of the station and what do those listeners want to hear?  Think like a producer.  Are they young or old?  Do they like business vs. entertainment?  Are they of a certain race, religion, class or status?  Take all of this into consideration.  Which leads us to the next part of the equation: the producer.  Win them over, and you are half way there.  They are a special breed of media.  Producers may lack the voice and ability to be the host, so instead they produce.  If they had good looks and talent, they’d be in TV, right?  So, the profile of radio producers consists of people who are relatively young, underpaid, stressed out and wishing they could be on the air if they just weren’t missing a gene or two.  Your pitch letter needs to make their job simple – no big words, no beating around the bush, no camouflaging of the message.  They scan emails and faxes ten seconds at a clip – if that – so you need to bait them immediately – or lose them permanently.

APPEARANCES, JUST LIKE MARTHA STEWART WOULD TELL YA
One-sheeters must be on PTA letterhead.  The PTA name gets people to look at our stuff and take our phone calls because we are a familiar, reliable source of good guests.  I have seen some faxes on plain white paper.  The best one to use is the “News From” with the globe on it.  Some people add artwork to their one-sheeter.  This can be eye-catching or it could look like an amateurish paint-by-the-numbers graphic – employing good taste is important.  Lastly, a one-sheeter is only one sheet.  There is never a reason to make it two pages.  Remember, some producers have ADD and can’t focus on one word, let alone more than one sheet.  Also, the second page may get lost or separated from the first page, rendering it useless.  Additionally, the layout should be pleasing to the eyes – use big headlines in bold, throw in a few bulleted points, box your contact information, toss in a few underlines, maybe italics – but choose the fonts wisely and make sure the stuff is readable.  Be mindful of your margins – give yourself lots of border space.  Consider the pitch letter like a person – it needs make-up and clothes, but don’t let too many things distract one from checking you out.  Use your resources wisely.  Never go below 11-point typeface – even 12 is recommended.  It not only makes it readable, it means you have less space to use, which means you use less words – and that’s the goal.

HEADLINES
1.      This can be in the form of a question or a statement.  If it’s a question, avoid YES/NO as a possible response, because you might alienate 50% of the respondents.  But this is not an exact rule – just be aware of how people might respond after answering the question.  Will they say “Who cares?” or will they say, “Wow”?

2.      You can have more than one headline – you can have a BIG two-line headline and then a smaller sub-headline.  You can’t have too many headlines or it defeats the purpose.  DO not make the headline the name of the book unless the title is well known or it makes a statement of some kind.  The headline is not the book per se, but the subject of the interview.  Granted, your goal is to get the book mentioned during the interview, but to get the interview, your goal is to come up with a viable topic for the producer.

3.      Do not use italics – it’s harder to read in a headline.

4.      Leave enough space between it and the contact info (if you put it at top) and the body of the opening paragraph.  You don’t want to crowd the headline.

5.      Best headline I ever saw was in the New York Post: Headless Body Found in Topless Bar.

6.      A Headline is almost like an ad jingle or tag line – something that gets the attention or overemphasizes a point, just as this Raid commercial offers up: Kills Roaches Dead.

THEMES
Your goal is to reduce a book of several hundred pages into a single page, reflecting upon one main idea and a few supportive ideas.  

14 THINGS TO BE AWARE OF
1.      Check your spelling, grammar, tenses.  People will stop reading something – or question its accuracy and validity – when it’s filled with errors and mistakes.  Just as you wouldn’t leave your house without looking in the mirror first, make sure you read through it before you fax it.

2.      Do not repeat words.  Find another way to say the same thing.  However, repetition of a theme or point is fine.  Consult a thesaurus or dictionary for alternative word selections.

3.      Write in short, quick sentences.  Limit paragraphs to five lines or less.  Large blocks of text or chunks of words turn people off from reading it.  Things stick out more when less is around them.

4.      Develop the essentials of the pitch into the headline and first paragraph.  Theoretically, you should be able to stop there and a producer could already decide on the guest.  What follows next should be supportive material – more teasers to seduce the producer who is on the fence.  One sentence should logically flow to the other.  If what you write is interesting, they will keep reading; if you bore them from the first sentence, it’s in the garbage can for sure.

5.      Rally around a central theme and a few angles to exploit this theme, as opposed to suggesting ten different show ideas where no one idea seems any better than the other.  Take your best shot with a good topic and build around it.

6.      If you want more attention, add to the top of the page any of the following phrases: EXCLUSIVE, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, MEDIA ADVISORY/ALERT.

7.      Tie the pitch into something in the news. Seek out something of relevance to the listenership demographics.  Give them “news you can use” or a top ten list of tips and advice. Celebrate an event, holiday, anniversary or moment in history that can be linked to your author.

8.      If you have a good endorsement, use it, but keep it short and emphasize the name of the person giving the endorsement as opposed to what is actually being said.  It’s more important that a big-name person, company or media outlet is associated with your client than the actual sappy words of praise.  Again, realize the endorsement alone won’t make anyone buy a book or book your guest, but it adds to the presentation that this guest has credentials.

9.      You can include sample interview questions in the body of the one sheet if you wish.  This would give the producer an idea of what the guest would actually talk about.

10.  You should obviously include background info on the author.  The book qualifies him or her as a guest, but so might other aspects of their job or past, so you don’t want to downplay something that might grab a producer’s attention.  But don’t write a whole bio and get too detailed.  Just give enough to paint a picture.

11.  Remember, never say “the book tells readers…” – instead, it’s “Joe Blow tells your listeners...”

12.  Quote something from your book. This gives a voice to the person you want the producer to schedule.  It creates a dialogue and adds depth to the presentation.  If you want to excerpt a few lines from the book that you find provocative or thought-provoking, do so, but remember, yourself as a the guest, not the book.

13.  When compiling a pitch letter, think of what the author can actually talk about, even something outside the book’s contents.  You are not tied to the book – you can stretch things as long as the author is comfortable in doing so.  However, never intentionally lie, misrepresent the truth, or disregard the facts.

14.  If you want to get a producer’s attention, hand-write a brief note onto your pitch letter before sending it, localizing the issue.  For instance, if your one-sheet talks about a book that discusses how to buy a home, you can write a note that says: “I will shed some insight on what to look for when evaluating property in San Diego.”

      Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

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