Happy Sunday. Thank you so much for all of the e mails. Here is another "Rick Tip".
I will be teaching publicity and publishing at Author101University in 2 1/2 weeks in Atlanta. I hope to see you there. Mark Victor Hansen, Brendon Burchard, James Malinchek, Robin Spizman, Alex Carroll, Lynn Pierce, David Hancock, Mahesh Grossman, John Willig- and scores of others will be there to teach you.
_____________________________________ Introduce Yourself with a Sound Bite ______________________________________
The short words are best, and the old words are the best of all."
In our busy world, no one has time for the full story--they want a synopsis, a digest, a capsule that takes only seconds to deliver, is easy to swallow, and resonates in their minds. And it must contain everything they need to know. Since publicity is about getting your message across, brevity is a must. You must create a short introductory message that will cut through the din and draw attention to who you are, what you do, and the benefit it will provide. We call these messages sound bites.
If you want to get your message across, you need a great sound bite that will immediately capture the attention of busy people. When you get an opening to deliver your sound bite, you better make it good! You must deliver your sound bite quickly, clearly, and compellingly. The more briefly you say it, the better it is.
The media is especially impatient and wants information fast. When you watch TV or listen to the radio, notice how quickly everything moves. Most news stories are delivered in ten seconds or less and most TV segments run for three minutes. Since the media moves so fast, you must deliver information to them fast.
Create a sound bite. Make sure it includes your name, the product or service you provide, and how it will help your consumer. Create your sound bite in two stages: first, create a message that you can deliver in less than thirty seconds; then cut it down to ten or fifteen seconds for the media. Radio news segments come in ten-second increments so "if you can't express what you want and why it's newsworthy in ten seconds, you're off the phone," advised a news director for a major NBC affiliate.
The purpose of a sound bite is to turn listeners on; it's a verbal business card that you can deliver when you're introduced to new people. It's your "elevator speech": a snappy, self-description that you can rattle off in the time it takes an elevator to rise from the lobby to the fifth floor.
As theatrical empresario David Belasco said, "If you can't write your idea on the back of my calling card, you don't have a clear idea." A sound bite is the foundation on which to build a forceful and memorable public persona. It's the first impression you make, an attention-grabbing device that will get you and your message noticed and remembered. Think of it as an investment with an immediate return because every time you use it, someone considers paying you.
Writing a sound bite forces you to sharpen your focus and examine your approach. It also makes you identify your audiences, clarifying who you are addressing and what you hope to receive from them. When you narrow these fields, it's much easier to promote yourself.
The ABCs of Sound Bites
Your sound bite must be a grabber--a memorable message that makes listeners want to buy your products, champion your causes, and fight your wars. If it's short and gets their attention, it buys you more time to sell. Your sound bite must be:
INTERESTING enough to attract immediate ATTENTION,
POWERFUL enough to be REMEMBERED, and
CONVINCING enough to stir overloaded listeners into ACTION.
Examples of a variety of effective sound bites are the following:
"I used to weigh over 300 pounds. Now, I'm a size 8. I can teach you how to lose weight and keep it off." --Diet book author
"My name is ________. My free tips on _______.com make investors rich from Internet stocks." --Investment broker
"I teach people to look rich, even if they aren't." --Fashion advisor
"I'm a ghost writer. I turn your experiences, adventures, and ideas into bestselling books." --Freelance writer
"My name is _________. I free folks from financial worry. Give me a call at _________ and I'll do the same for you." --Financial consultant
"Reporters are like alligators. You don't have to love them, you don't necessarily have to like them. But you do have to feed them." --Anonymous
What The Media Loves
1. News Above all else, the media wants newsworthy items. The first thing they ask is, "Will our audience care about this?" News is what affects people's lives, what they discuss at the dinner table and around the water cooler. For the media, news is not just about delivering information; it's about entertaining first and educating or selling second. So, provide your information in an entertaining fashion.
2. The Big Three: Sex, Money, and Health Stories that involve sex, money, or health attract attention. The media believes that the public is obsessed with sex, money, and health, and if you link your story to one or more of them, it will increase its media appeal.
3. Brevity Save everyone time and effort by sending short, concise messages, preferably by e-mail. Cut to the chase--be direct and without subterfuge. State what you're pitching and how it will help the intended audience. Long missives often go unread. Warning Faxes can be unreliable. Some newsrooms, stations, and offices have only one fax machine, or one per floor, and it may be operated by an intern or a clerk. In large organizations, faxes are often undelivered or delivered to the wrong person. If you send a fax, follow up with an e-mail to be sure it is received.
4. Targeted Pitches Every story isn't for every outlet. Research the audience you wish to reach and identify which outlets best target that audience. Before making your pitch, study each media outlet: read its articles, watch and listen to its programs, and visit its Web sites. Customize your pitch to stress how it will benefit each outlet's specific audience. Send business stories to business reporters, not to lifestyle reporters, unless the story has a lifestyle angle.
5. Relationships Media people like to deal with people who build relationships rather than merely try to sell a story. Although individual stories are important, people in the media know that careers are built by forging strong relationships. To the media, professionals build relationships and they prefer to work with professionals in their network rather than one-shot wonders.
6. Preparation Do your homework. The media likes to work with people who have their acts together and can deliver what is needed. Focus on making the media's job easier. Know your subject inside and out and have written materials completed and on hand to send upon request. With products, send three copies of the product to the media. Being prepared shows commitment and that you're a dedicated professional.
7. Broad Appeal The story behind your product or service should be able to reach a wide variety of individuals. You want something that makes audiences say, "I know someone who could use that." The media looks for stories that people will identify with. Search for broad themes that deliver some punch.
8. Tie-ins The media wants stories that feed into larger items such as breaking news or trends. It looks for topics that will spawn families of stories. For example, during mining disasters they go for stories about safety, corporate greed, the closeness and tradition of mining communities, handling grief, treating trauma, technical and scientific advances, and the environment.
9. Experience Reporters, editors, and bloggers like to see how others have covered your story; send articles that others have written about you or your product or service. Producers and podcasters want to know how you came off on camera or radio; give them a list of shows you've appeared on and offer to supply tapes for their review.
10. Visualization The media loves stories that they can picture. In your written materials, use visual terms to create images and tell stories that illustrate your main points. The better the media can visualize your story, the better it can visualize its audience visualizing your story.
11. Celebrity Connections Explain how your product or service is linked to well-known personalities. The public craves information about celebrities and products related to them get plenty of ink.
12. Prompt Response Since the media works tight deadlines, time is always of the essence. Respond promptly to requests. Send requested material by the fastest route: hand delivery or overnight express. Delays can cause postponements or cancellations. You're always in a race with the clock.
13. Courtesy Be respectful to everyone you come in contact with, especially those who answer the phones. Before speaking with media contacts, learn the proper pronunciation of their names. Butchering a media contact's name will get you off to a rocky start; it will put you in a hole before you begin.
14. Visual Aids A picture is worth 10,000 words. Send charts, graphs, photographs, illustrations, and other graphic aids that reporters can stick under their editors' noses to show why your story merits telling.
15. Send Warnings Before sending unsolicited material, you should notify your media contacts that it is coming with a quick call or e-mail. If they tell you not to send it, respect their wishes.
Most of the time, media contacts won't respond to your attempts to engage them, but don't give up or become discouraged. Don't stop -- just regroup and try again and again. Follow up promptly.
Following up is essential in getting publicity! Professional publicists follow up their initial appeals by e-mail or phone to inquire about the contact's interest. Following up is what distinguishes professional publicists from amateurs. Following up is the repetitive and unglamorous aspect of getting publicity that many authors don't want to or won't do. However, professionals will. If you want to get the media to publicize your book, learn to follow up! Call a day or so after they should have received your initial contact. Then follow up every day or two. Leave your silver bullet, your initial message, only once, but give your name, identify yourself, and state how you can be contacted. For example, say, "This is Jim Brady. Call me about the latest handgun death." After you contact people in the media a number of times, they begin to recognize your name. They start connecting it with your area of expertise and your book, which is the way that you start building relationships.
Be persistent; continue following up until you make contact or are convinced that it's hopeless. Some media contacts will appreciate the fact that you follow up because it may alert them to items they missed or remind them of others that they might want to revisit.
Remember -- timing is everything with the media! In the course of a week or two, everything can change. A contact who was totally disinterested last week may now want lots of information on a subject that he or she virtually ignored before.
Rule of Seven Publicity is a business with lots of rejections and few responses. It can take a dozen phone calls to get an interview with a major-market media outlet. Remember the Rule of Seven -- it takes at least seven tries before you make contact. But one response, one "Yes," may be all you need to get your story told. Look at each "No" or lack of response not as a defeat or a setback, but as a small victory that puts you closer to the "Yes" that will land you a feature or a booking. When my close colleague and friend Robyn Freedman Spizman -- a fellow expert publicist -- began pitching her books, she always thought a "No" was just the word "On," backward. "So when a contact said No, I began to passionately pitch because I knew it was do or die," Robyn explains. "I carefully listened to the media and in a few moments, I'd know if I was shooting blanks or connecting. I always knew what I wanted to convey and was ready to shift into rocket gear. Sometimes it helped to ask, "Thank you for your feedback. Do you know anyone working on any topics that relate to my focus?" " To follow up without being a pest and to get the media to lower its guard, say something like, "I'm sorry to bother you so much, I know how busy you are. But I thought my new book would really be up your alley, and you'd like to know about it." Usually, your apology and understanding of how busy they are will loosen them up.
When you don't have something to pitch, stay on their radar screens. Periodically call, e-mail, and send information. Put them on your Christmas card list. Send copies of your promotional materials and newsletters. When they cover you or your book, send thank-you notes. Convey your congratulations when they get awards, promotions, or new jobs. Send them birthday cards; consider it a part of following up, but sincerity is key. Send items in order to connect with people in the media, get to know them and enable them to become more familiar with you.
Press Releases Publicity expert Paul Hartunian believes that conducting a press release campaign is the most effective way to get bookings and coverage. So he instructs his clients to: - Start early, as soon as they think about writing a book and even before they write or try to shop it. - Every week, send a different press release. If you can't send one every week, send one at least every other week. Distributing press releases at longer intervals is not as productive. - In each press release, give solutions to specific problems. Think of the most common and troubling problems in your area of expertise and provide answers for them. When the media continually receives your solutions, it will recognize your name and think of you as an expert in your field. - Continue sending press releases well after your book is published in order to continue your media presence long after the buzz on your book has faded.
Although writing and sending so many press releases sounds like a ton of work, Hartunian feels it isn't difficult. First, he recommends that authors develop a template that they can easily follow, which will become routine after a while. An effective approach is to first identify the problem. Then, explain why it occurs, its implications, and its impact. Finally, offer solutions.
Hartunian notes that after about six months, old press releases can be recycled. "The reporter you may have pitched may have moved to a different paper or might not have read your release the first time around," he explains. "Audiences change and those who read a release today may be different than those who read it before. Set up a stable of press releases, update them, tweak them, link them to current news and developments, and recycle them," Hartunian advises. Anticipate and capitalize on events. Hartunian knows that in every field, certain events will eventually occur, so he prepares to use them to get publicity. When he represented a client who marketed a golf putter, he realized that sooner or later, some high-profile professional golfer would miss a putt that would cost him a tournament. So, he dashed out a press release with the headline, "Did You See _____ _______ Just Miss That Putt?" and left the name blank. Under the headline, he added the subhead, "Call me. I can tell you why ___ ________ missed that putt and how it could have been prevented." Then, Hartunian filed the press release and waited. Sure enough, before long, a major golfer missed a critical putt to lose a major tournament. Seconds after the miss, Hartunian pulled out the prewritten release, filled in the golfer's name, and faxed the press release to his distribution services, which in turn forwarded it to tens of thousands of media outlets. The media was floored by Hartunian's lightning-quick action and overwhelmed him with interview requests.