Getting noticed by the media means being recognized by the public as an expert in your field. Two critical elements in developing a successful media campaign are knowing what makes you newsworthy and developing a list of the media likely to be interested in the subject. Don’t forget that you have another source of media – your author clients. They may be delighted to help you get media attention for your work, while highlighting their books as well.
Courting Media Attention
Most of us think that the media decides who gets on television or radio based on their own sources. This is true, but the members of the media are constantly looking for new sources. Your job is to become a new source by letting them know that you are an expert they can count on for commentary on stories involving authors in the news. If you have an opinion on a current news story, send it to a member of the media, along with information on your background, your web URL and contact information. Make it short and to the point, but do it at the time the story is making news. This is how new sources make themselves available to the media and create new contacts.
Being Prepared for Media Exposure
Just as you do for author clients, you will need to develop a media kit if you want media attention. Be prepared for attention. It is least risky for a member of the media to cover a story using an established expert. They don’t have time to check out all your credentials, but if you have done other media, the assumption is that someone else believes you know your stuff. The more media you have gotten, the more media you can probably get in the future, so start small and local and get whatever media you can. If you know a local newspaper reporter or someone who does a column in a trade magazine, these are great places to start. Be a resource to them.
Print and Web Media
Sending out press releases and pitching stories and articles are great ways of giving the media ideas that can result in your business being showcased. There is no point in sending a press release unless your message is truly newsworthy, so use this tool sparingly.
Writing Press releases
Press or media releases are traditionally written in a particular format. They are generally only one or at most two pages long. There is a headline, the press release title, which is at most ten words. These ten words should include keywords like author, publishing and book. It must create a hook that will entice readers to read the rest of the release. Below the headline is the dateline that gives the city and date of the release. Sometimes a media source will only have room to include a few sentences from a press release, so it is vital that the opening paragraph contain the critical information that ties the reason for the release to the news of the day. The rest of the release will contain more details and quotes (in third person). Include a sentence or two about the significance of anyone quoted in the press release, including you. At the very end of the release is the contact information including contact name, phone and email. A good time to send out a press release that is your expert opinion, is when there is news about the book publishing industry, about a famous author, or when there is a book-related scandal. Another possibility is to create news rather than react to it by doing a survey related to authors. Good places to see press releases, and to distribute them include: www.PRWeb.com and www.PRNewswire.com.
Pitching Stories and Articles
The first rule in approaching the media with a story idea is to look for magazines, newspaper and television programs that cover stories like yours. Do your homework and look at the publication or media web site to also find the right contact person for your story. Is the audience the publication or media source caters to the same audience that will be interested in your story? The media loves to discover new stories and to put two previously unrelated ideas together to create controversy or high interest. If you can help them do that, they will use your story idea and feature you in it. The media also loves to find a new slant on a regular story, such as covering a holiday in a new way. Because the idea of a virtual author’s assistant is relatively new and stories about new types of employment are newsworthy, you might pitch the idea of how working with authors has been profitable for you, especially if you left a corporate job and if you can give the media contact a list of authors to talk to about their experiences. The best way to get media is to prove you are media-worthy because you have done other stories or have been interviewed by other media sources.
Radio and Television
If you do get the opportunity to be interviewed on a radio or television program, take it! It is fun to do and if you are prepared, you will have an electronic audio or video file afterwards that you can proudly put on your web site. Here are some tips for making the most of the opportunity:
- Know the audience – be clear on who will be listening to you and gear your message to that audience
- Know the one, two or three major messages you want to convey, based on the topic of the show
- Be prepared to share stories and examples of any of the points you make
- Answer what is asked as well as you can, even if you don’t understand the question. This is not the time to say, “Can you repeat the question?”
- Smile during the interview and have fun. The audience will have fun if you do
Creating Your Own Media
A blog is a web site or portion of a web site that is easy to update with new content. The content may include audio and video, but is usually made up of personal commentary. The purpose of a blog is to allow the writer to talk informally about whatever topic is on the writer’s mind. You could use a blog to talk about your garden or your pets, but it is more likely to boost your business if you comment on what is happening in the publishing industry or talk about client successes. To be more effective, a blog should be updated frequently, perhaps daily, but at least weekly. You can prepare blog entries in advance and have them available at a later date as a way of using your time wisely. Another aspect that enhances a blog’s effectiveness is to allow readers to make comments on each blog entry so they can start a dialog with you. Always respond to reader comments to continue the conversation. Blogs should be used to show your expertise, but not as sales tools. Blogs are the human side of your web site. Write blog entries as if you were talking to friends. However, do a thorough job of proofreading and self-editing your work, as you would with an article. Especially when you are hoping to appeal to author clients, grammar, spelling and punctuation matters. It is easy to set up a blog and tie it into your web site. Consider some of these popular options:
A podcast is an audio (or a video) blog. It can be used to interview others (like author clients or publishing experts) or to record a class or even your record your own thoughts on topics of interest. A podcast is not a single audio (or video), but a series made available to listeners (or viewers) by automatic download for those who subscribe to that podcast. You can watch or listen to podcasts on a computer or listen to the audio on an MP3 player. A simple way to create your own podcast is to record audio over the telephone with AudioAcrobat.com. A newer form of audio communication is to do your own Internet radio show. The web site BlogTalkRadio.com lets anyone host a live radio show that allows callers to call in and participate and allows for up to two hours of talk time for free. While the technology is relatively simple, it does take time to create a quality podcast or radio show that will be worthwhile for the listener.
Working virtually means that I have the opportunity to try lots of new things to help my authors and to promote my business. I will try a new approach to getting to a new media source every month, even though it may take me a long time to finally get that media attention. My own story is still in development and so I will give myself the time to get used to working in a new way, but I will never stop listening for new opportunities.
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