I’ve had the great pleasure of working with Dorothy Wilhelm over the last several years. Dorothy is the host/producer of My Home Town on Comcast TV and writes a column for the Tacoma News Tribune. For ten years she was Creativity Expert on KIRO radio and TV in Seattle, the largest stations in the Northwest. Visit her website at www.itsnevertoolate.com
Dorothy has coached me for radio and TV interviews—always providing valuable information in a most humorous way. She has kindly agreed to share some of her best media ideas for this month’s publishing tip.
HOW TO BECOME IRRESISTIBLE TO THE MEDIA . . .
BECOME AN EXPERT!
by Dorothy Wilhelm
Start by setting your book or manuscript on the mantel or dining room table where you must look at it frequently. Ask yourself, “To whom is this book really attractive? Who is it calling?” Write down the answers.
Do not send media kits out without the following steps, unless you enjoy pointless exercise and like to spend money for postage. (If you live in the Puget Sound area, you’ll get a lot of help from: Puget Sound Media Directory, Katia Blackburn Communications, Inc. 206-781-2265, email@example.com .)
1. Listen to radio programs, watch TV, read newspapers and magazines. Select those whose formats are compatible with your book. Where do you fit? Be sure your pitch is appropriate to selected programs format and style.
A. If you’ve targeted a specific program or publication, notice who produces (or edits) segments/features compatible with your book. Develop a strong local following before you try to move on to a national audience.
B. When you identify “compatible” media, call each and every one and ask for the name and direct phone number of the producer or editor in charge of that division.
2. Find out what each station or publication is using and create an angle. Book reviews are not your best friend. Only a limited number of book reviews can be done, and there’s always the chance the review may not be favorable. Look for areas where you can keep control.
A. Try a variety of pitches. A feature story can be much more valuable than a review, and you have much more chance of controlling results.
B. If your book was good enough to get into print, it’s good enough to have a number of angles and that raises your chance of getting on the media.
C. Don’t contact national shows immediately, but remember that one appearance on Oprah can sell out your book. Work toward a national appearance when you have local publicity under your belt.
3. Become identified as an expert.
A. Watch news for stories that connect with your book. Or that have a connection with research you’ve done for your book. If your book is fiction, it’s a little tougher but it can still be done.
B. Before you make a call, sit down and decide in writing what the minimum and maximum results of this contact will be. Maximum might be, “An invitation to be a guest on the show.” Minimum might be, “obtain a correct contact name, phone number, e-mail, and some hard information that will be useful in future calls.”
C. Immediately call the designated editor or producer and say something like, “Today KIRO 7 News at Noon ran a story about the projected growth for Microsoft. In connection with that story, you’ll be interested in knowing that more than 37,000 Washingtonians have decided to immediately abandon computers altogether. In my book, Burn Your Computers, I explained that movement, and also have supporting demographics about how computers are already impacting daily life.”
D. Incorporate the following points:
1) “Today KIRO 7 News at Noon (know the name of the show)
2) ran a story about the projected growth for Microsoft.” (I watched it and know the content.)
3) “you’ll be interested in knowing that more than 37,000 Washingtonians have decided to immediately abandon computers altogether.” (Provide News Nugget.)
4) “In my book, Burn Your Computers, I explained that movement,” (Finally, you can mention your book - and voila! You’ve just established yourself as an expert.)
E. If the producer/editor expresses interest, be ready with more facts and information.
F. Offer to send your media packet with specific information on this subject. Never send out a media kit unless you have a specific request and a specific name.
G. Get correct address and direct phone line even if they don’t want you to send anything. You’ll be back.
H. Try to get e-mail address. Most producers/editors don’t answer phone calls or letters but some respond to e-mail. However, anti-virus programs winnow out a lot of unsolicited e-mail so think of your e-mail campaign as part of a three-pronged approach with phone and fax. Only a few months ago, e-mail was the best way to pitch story ideas for print or broadcast. Now it's very iffy, and that could change again. Pay attention to trends. Make your e-mail pitch short and to the point.
I. Conclude politely and pleasantly with thanks for the person’s time however surly and unhelpful he/she was AND say, “Why don’t you just put my name in your file, in case you do need a contact on this subject. I have been researching this for three years and have a HUGE bank of resources. (This shows that you won’t insist they talk to you, but will put them in touch with others.)
J. Immediately, the very minute you hang up, write a quick note which includes a brief thanks, but FIRST, offer one more News Nugget.
K. Repeat until you get desired results. As long as you follow these guidelines and maintain cheerful professional detachment, you stand a good chance of getting results. Very often the person who gets on the air, or in print is the one who was on the phone at just the right minute.
How To Guarantee That You’ll Never Be
Bothered By The Media. Ever. At All.
by Dorothy Wilhelm
1. Never start a call, letter, or e-mail with “I would like publicity for my book.” There is no surer guarantee that you won’t get what you want. The editor or publisher doesn’t care about giving you publicity and, in fact, would way rather not be involved in promotion. Instead, quickly tell how this contact is going to result in news that will attract audience or readers. Don’t call until you can do that.
2. Never say “Of course, I don’t watch TV” or “I never read the Tribune” or “I just don’t have time to listen to the radio.” The producer doesn’t care about your personal reading or viewing habits. He does care about working with someone who has taken the trouble to familiarize herself with their format.
3. Never send a media pack which has not been requested, unless you find joy and personal fulfillment in throwing your money away. Identify a specific recipient and obtain a request or at least permission to send. Then you at least have a chance at a book reception for your material.
4. Never take for granted that your list of suggested questions will be used, or even that anyone will know where it is. Take along a copy of the book, questions, and a bio.
5. Never, for that matter, assume that your suggested questions will be used and keep in mind that some hosts (like me) are actively annoyed by them. If you realize that this is the situation, don’t keep saying “Well, in my list of questions . . .” Instead, know the one thing you want to get out in this interview, and let the host know.
6. Never keep saying “In my book, How Very Clever Am I, on page 47 I tell how to handle that problem.” Instead, be very generous with info shared. Give just as many specifics as you possibly can. That will bring buyers and more media attention for your book. You can get away with saying, “Well, Katie, one reason for writing The Right Way to Handle Porcupines is that I realized most people don’t know this one simple technique for making peace in the office.” Then, go on to give the tip.
© Dorothy Wilhelm
1781 McNeil Circle
DuPont, WA 98327-8725
Article provided by June Cotner, publishing consultant and author of the bestselling Graces and Dog Blessings and 24 other books. PO Box 2765, Poulsbo, WA 98370 firstname.lastname@example.org
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