Tuesday, February 6, 2018

What Authors Should Say In A Phone Call To The Media

Most authors would love to garner publicity for their books but they fumble the opportunities that come their way.  They’re nervous, unprepared, inexperienced, and lack an understanding of the process of interacting with the news media.  Additionally, some authors are shy, short on time, and not media savvy. All of that serves as a recipe for failure.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Let’s focus on the author-media conversation.  Just what does that dialogue look like?

First, let’s establish what most seasoned book publicists already know. It’s hard to get anyone from the media on the phone.  In order to speak to the media, you need to do as follows:

·         Put together a list of relevant and targeted media outlets.
·         Identify the best department or individual to reach out to.
·         Send them an email prior to calling them.
·         Be aware of regional time differences when calling, to insure they are around when you call.
·         Get an understanding of when the media’s in the office, for instance, morning TV producers usually don’t hang out until 4 pm and print people, like a news editor, may be very busy as deadlines approach later in the day.
·         When you call, don’t bother leaving a message, but if you do, keep it short and give them a real urgent reason to call you back.
·         If you get voice mail, dial zero and see if the operator can page that person or at least clue you in on the best time to reach them.

Try calling some media on the weekends – surprisingly some are in the office and almost no other publicists are calling then.

Second, know something about the specific media outlet and journalist/producer that you are contacting.  The more you show you understand what they like to cover, the better chance you can express yourself as a match for them.

Third, prepare your pitch so that within 15-20 seconds you can unload something that gets their attention and positions them to want to know more.

Fourth, avoid friendly chit-chat.  They don’t want to waste time or be your friend.  They want to know if what you have will help them grow readership, listenership, viewership, and engagement.  They want to know if their loyal followers’ demographics will be appealed to based on your story.

Fifth, speak clearly, quickly, confidently, and above all, interestingly.  Leave out every boring detail or unnecessary word.  Speak in terms of headlines.  Explain why you are an expert and what it is that is new, unique, special or useful about your story.

Sixth, seek out an action step.  Ask them if they want a copy of the book.  Find out what they’re working on or looking for.  Even if they say no, offer them another story angle.  Lastly, if all else fails, ask if they believe another editor, producer, or colleague can be referred to you so you can solicit them.

Don’t feel intimidated or insignificant.  You deserve to have your story told and the media should be happy to have you tell it.  You help each other.  They get a terrific story and you get great coverage.  It’s a partnership of equals.

Let me conclude by saying that although a lot of media coverage is initiated by an e-mail, a phone call can be used to open doors or seal the deal.  Don’t rely on a voiceless, digital approach -- get on the phone and go old school.  Speak and infuse your conversation with passion and conviction.  Let them know you would perform well in an interview.

The media is a people business, not just a content-sharing machine.  Engage humans with real contact and let them see and hear what you are about.

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource."

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