Top Radio Talk Shows. Local talk radio used to be one of the best tools available to publicize anything! Every town with enough people had its own AM radio station and every one of those had at least one local host who was always looking for guests. While the number of local radio programs is a mere fraction of what it once was, there are still plenty of opportunities to book guests on national programs. The competition is fierce and you will need a really good pitch to get on any of them, but it can be done. By having these resources handy you will save a lot of time looking for contacts, phone numbers, emails, etc. Instead of spending time on those you can devote energy to crafting the perfect pitch.
Now some shows do not book guests, and that is fine. But you can still get a release or announcement read on the air by a national host. Rush Limbaugh, who does not book guests, once read a news release from me about a new treatment for bone cancer. It was epic. And while Limbaugh has his critics, he may be single handedly responsible for saving AM radio.
Talk radio as a listener-participation format has existed since the 1930’s. John J. Anthony (1902-70) was an announcer and DJ on New York’s WMRJ. It was located in the Merrick Radio Store at 12 New York Boulevard in Jamaica, Long Island. After some marital troubles, refusing to pay alimony and child support, he sought professional help and began his own radio series where listeners would call in with their problems in 1930. Radio historians consider this the first instance of talk radio. Maybe, but who is going to argue.
Talk radio is not limited to the AM band. “Non-commercial” usually referred to as “public radio“, which is located in a reserved spectrum of the FM band, also broadcasts talk programs. Commercial all-talk stations can also be found on the FM band in many cities across the US. These shows often rely less on political discussion and analysis than their AM counterparts, and often employ the use of pranks and “bits” for entertainment purposes; the morning zoos which started in the 80’s are still around as is Howard Stern though you have to pay to listen to Howard now. In the United States and Canada, satellite radio services offer uncensored “free-wheeling” original programming. ABC News & Talk is an example of “repackaging” for the digital airwaves shows featured on their terrestrial radio stations.
Public relations counselors tell clients and colleagues not to speculate. More often than not speculation comes in the form of questions to predict future outcomes. It’s a scheme designed by reporters who want interviewees to say something foolish, improbable, with no basis in reality or all of the above. The advice so many of us give is that no one has the gift of prophecy or the ability to predict the future and that doing so would be silly. Do not speculate, talk about things that you know for certain and stick to that.
The media has now caught up with the public relations industry and reinvented the speculative question. Instead of predicting the future, interviewees are asked to second-guess themselves about the past. The most famous and recent example was on Fox News when during an interview with Former Florida governor and brother of President George W. Bush the Iraq war came up. Megyn Kelly asked Bush, “knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion?”
Bush is no stranger to media or interviews. He comes from one of the most covered families in history. His experience as governor along should have sent a signal to his brain that said, ‘it’s a trap’. Sadly for Bush, there was a short circuit. He fell into Kelly’s trap. It was a full frontal fail. Here is his quote:
“In retrospect,” Bush continued, “the intelligence that everybody saw — that the world saw, not just the United States — was faulty. And in retrospect, once we invaded and took out Saddam Hussein, we didn’t focus on security first, and the Iraqis, in this incredibly insecure environment, turned out the United States military because there was no security for themselves and their families. By the way, guess who thinks that those mistakes took place as well? George W. Bush. So just for the newsflash to the world, if they’re trying to find places where there’s big space between me and my brother, this might not be one of those.”
The news out of this was not what Jeb expected. His answer was covered in plenty of other places, and that is not what this posting is about. Jeb should not have answered the question.
Instead of talking about what might have been, Bush should have taken the prophecy advice and flipped it around. He could have said, “it’s pointless to discuss what we might or might not have done. I am not able to go back in time and undo any decision or action. Instead of wondering what might have been done differently, we need to concentrate on what is happening now…”
The ‘knowing what we know now’ question has a life of its own. The time traveling/navel gazing type of inquiry is part of the arsenal of passive aggressive reporters, thanks to the ill-advised answer Governor Bush gave. Remember, just talk about what you know now. Not what may come or what you would have done.
This article “9 Surprise PR Tactics That Will Make You Irresistible to Reporters” was published by PRNews and written by Steve Goldstein on April 16, 2015. Enjoy!
Attend any panel discussion featuring PR pros and journalists, and within five minutes of its commencement you’ll hear one of the journalists say, “I delete email pitches in batches of 20 with hardly a glance at the subject lines.”
Then comes the inevitable follow-up question from the audience: “So what would it take for you to open my email?”
And the answer: “Know my beat, read my articles, give me real news I can use.”
Silently, the PR pros in attendance grumble in unison: “But if you’re deleting everything without looking, then what difference would that make?”
journalist/PR pro dynamic and harness the elemental power of surprise to cut through the noise and make a connection.
“One of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of working in PR is building relationships with reporters,” says Luna, who will be the keynote presenter on day two of PR News’ Digital PR Conference, which will be held June 1-3 in Miami. “Luckily, things get a lot easier when you have the science of surprise on your side. When you pleasantly surprise people they think of you more often and are more interested in what you have to say.”
Here are nine tips for bonding with reporters from co-authors Luna and Renninger:
1. Jump over the expectation bar: Our brains are delighted when someone exceeds our expectations, disappointed when someone falls below the bar and unmoved when someone meets our expectations. Take the time to learn what each of your contacts expects (what topics do they prefer? what style? what format?) and find ways to exceed expectations at every point of contact (e.g., offer all necessary links before they have to ask; use bullet points so your pitch is easy to digest).
2. Under-promise, over-deliver: Here is a shortcut to exceeding expectations from author Tom Peters. Set expectations just an inch lower than you plan to deliver, then over-deliver every once in a while (e.g., promise you’ll respond in 48 hours, then reply in just two). Pleasant surprises release dopamine in the brain, a neurochemical associated with excitement and interest.
3. Do a scriptease: So many of our interactions feel scripted and formal. Leave your script aside and connect with reporters the way you would with friends (respectful but playful and authentic). Authenticity builds trust but also triggers people’s interest.
4. Give just because: Be helpful or encouraging for no particular reason (even when you aren’t trying to place a story). Research shows that we think about random acts of kindness longer than we contemplate explained kind behavior (and random kindness makes us happier).
5. Bury a cookie: Find ways to tuck small delights into your interactions. Can you sneak a joke into your conversation? A genuine compliment? A funny GIF into your email? In a study, researchers found that even a handwritten Post-it Note can be personal and unexpected enough to double response rates to a survey.
6. Build knowledge gaps: Spark curiosity by pitching your stories in a way that shows readers you know something they don’t. Our fascination with mystery is the reason listicles work so well. (Just compare these two titles and see which one your brain likes more: “These 8 Subject Line Tweaks Will Get Everyone to Open Your Emails” vs. “How to Get People to Open Your Emails.”)
7. Tell stories: Most of us are familiar with the power of story, but it helps to know why stories work as well as they do to remind us that we have to weave stories into our pitches. Because stories have mystery at their core (we want to know what will happen next), they trigger the P3 brain wave—this cognitive shift grabs our cognitive resources and forces us to pay attention.
8. Design experiences: Devise opportunities for your contacts to have an emotional, multi-sensory experience with your company or story (hint: the more senses you engage, the more memorable the experience will be).
9. Harness fortune cookie psychology: A handwritten thank-you note will trigger a burst of dopamine in the recipient, but the same card with the same message sent several times will soon fall flat. Take a tip from the fortune cookie and switch up how, when and why you reach out to say thank-you or offer a tip. In short: Exceed expectations, be genuine, be mysterious and delight often.
I have a recurring nightmare that there is a You Tube video of me that has “gone viral” because of some incredibly ignorant thing I’ve said and done. In my dream, the details of what I said or did are unclear. What is clear is that I somehow disgraced myself while on camera. I wake feeling flushed, embarrassed and not able to get over whatever it was that got posted everywhere. It is not a good feeling.
The best thing to remember when preparing to answer media questions is that you are there to promote you, or your business, cause or candidate. You are not there to make friends, get laughs, or prove how smart you are. An interview is about getting on the air or in print the facts and point of view you want to read and most importantly you want current and prospective customers, donors or voters to hear, see or read. Here is how.
Know your message points. Write 3-5 short, declarative sentences that are the core of your communications. These are the points that will anchor you to a good outcome. I like to call these message points “must airs” as they are the points that you “must air” during the interview to be a success.
Learn to bridge. There are going to be times when a reporter will ask you a question that you do not want to answer or are not able to answer. Instead of a silent dead-eyed stare, take the question and build a “verbal bridge” to one of the must airs you want to make. Here is an example. Say you are in the pet food business and you are introducing a new type of cat food for people who have a lot of money to spend on pets. This food is made domestically (one of your must airs) and is very high in protein, vitamins and minerals (another must air), and made under the supervision of the U.S. government (final must air). These are the points you want to emphasize for an interview.
You are talking with a reporter about this new cat food and she asks you about concerns that cat owners have about contamination due to ethylene glycol. Ethylene glycol is used in anti-freeze and is extremely poisonous. A number of pets were killed by it when contaminated cat food made in China was sold here. The last thing you want associated in the media with your new cat food are the words “contamination” or “ethylene glycol” so you bridge. Here is how that answer could look. “Our new food is very high in nutrients and made domestically under the watchful eye of the FDA and other regulators, so our customers can have complete confidence in it.” See what you did?
You re-stated that your food was made here, that it was high in nutritional value and regulated under U.S. law. See what you did not do? You did not repeat any language about China, contamination, ethylene glycol or poison. Instead of a response that would reinforce negative ideas about cat food and remind everyone about how cat food once poisoned a lot of cats, you used this as a place to emphasize positives about your product. That is bridging. It is not easy and not for beginners. To be good at it takes a lot of practice.
Bridge to keep the conversation on track. The time you and the reporter have are limited. There are times when friendly, get acquainted chat can take up too much time. If you find that the conversation has strayed from the topic you want to talk about find a way to bridge back. Here is an example. A reporter has started talking about all the funny cat videos on You Tube that are shared on her Facebook page and just how entertaining they are. This has gone on for about long enough, so bring the conversation back by saying something like, “those videos remind me and other pet lovers about how important these animals are to us and how we have a duty to care for them in the best way possible and that includes how we feed them…” This is not a great example but you get the idea. Gently deliver the conversation back to the thing you want to talk about.
Practice. This is not something any of us was born knowing. To get good at it will take practice. Get a co-worker to ask you difficult or irrelevant questions so you can practice bridging to the answers you want to see or hear.
“I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable answer. So many times interviewees believe that they have a duty to know every single thing about their topic. No such expectation exists, as no reasonable person would expect you to know every last thing about anything. So if you do not know, say so. It is an honest answer. Promise the reporter to look into their question and to get back to them with an answer, then do so.
Keep your answers short. This too comes with practice. I love to talk, so keeping my answers short has taken a lot of time and effort. Also I’ve spent a lot of time working with technical people over the years. Technicians and engineers are really smart and know a lot and they love to talk about how much they know. This is great for technical presentations but not with reporters. Long answers can be misunderstood and are easy to misquote. If you keep the answer short, there is less chance for a misunderstanding. So if you tend to go on and on, realize it and practice shorter answers.
Always tell the truth. If you tell the truth 99 times and tell a lie 1 time, you are a liar. Getting caught in a lie is embarrassing. Getting caught in a lie by a reporter will end your career. If there are things you are not able to talk about then say so. For example, if there is a court case ongoing or some other information that needs to be kept confidential, then say that. If the results of a study or test are positive, then say that too without embellishment. Interviews with the press are not the time for “fish stories”. If there is some negative to report, then do so. Trying to be cute, clever or spin answers will alienate reporters and they can spot and smell “bovine excrement” for miles.
Practice more. And practice on camera if possible. Speakers will learn a great deal about how to better their performances watching themselves on camera.
There are tons of other articles and even entire books written on just this topic. So do not limit yourself, go and read those too. There is lots to know and plenty of smart people who can help you. The 7 points made here are all techniques that I have used for nearly years and I can tell you from personal experience that they work. Good luck with your interview. Now go practice!
An essential component of any media relations’ effort is the creation of a media list. A media list is, as the name suggests, a list of journalists, reporters, editors and bloggers that you want to connect with about your news. There are lots of ways to define this list. I once worked with someone who would not consider media part of a target list but insisted that they were merely a conduit to the real audience. He may have had a point but it seemed like hair-splitting to me. Oh well, now on with the story.
I like to use fishing analogies when I write about different types of ways to promote a business. There are fish you can catch with a net and fish you catch with a line. The fish that come up in the net are every fish. No discrimination about the type of fish in the net, just pull up every fish that is unlucky enough to be under the boat when the net is thrown out. To catch fish on a line requires more skill, specialized equipment, the right kind of bait and knowledge about where and when a particular variety is more likely available. Sending out press releases is much the same. You can broadcast a release to everyone via one of the popular and expensive services and it will get published, no question. But will it be seen and appreciated by an audience that could better appreciate it? Do you need a “line” to the reporters and editors who are specifically interested in your topic? You already know the answer.
Step 1: Know Your Audience
Or another way of thinking about this is to define who are your customers or potential customers? Where do they live? How old are they? Are they married or single? Are they college graduates or not? How much money do they make? What magazines do they read or subscribe to? These are a few of the demographics about who your audience/customers are and how to reach them. If you do not know this then you will not be able to build a good list or market to potential customers successfully. Know your customer!
Step 2: What Do You Read Or Listen To Or Watch?
So who are those reporters you want to reach and how do you start to look for them? Well, what do you read and listen to when you are thinking about work or looking for solutions to problems on the job? Many professionals and business owners have their favorite writer, podcaster, and/or commentator. The one who covers your business and the one(s) you pay attention to are also the same people who should show up on your media list. Since you already know who they are, finding them on line will be easier than if you did not. So while researching your own favorites, pay attention to others who show up on your favorite search engine feed. You want to be sure that you have access to all media in your selected categories—print, online, TV and radio—and that your list isn’t exclusive to one area. Be inclusive.
Step 3: Find Others Who Cover The Same Beat
Look on line for others who cover the same “beat” as your favorites. These people may not be your favorite, but they are someone’s favorite or they would not have the jobs or following that they do. Are there more places to look? Absolutely.
Step 4: Investigate Other On Line Resources
There are online services that have absolutely everything there is to know about every media outlet in North America whether, print, on line, radio, TV, or blog. Vocus and Cision are both excellent. They are also expensive and not everyone can afford to subscribe to one of these. Here are some other places to look that do not cost anything but time.
The Internet Public Library
The Internet Public Library includes a list of popular magazines and newspapers organized by their respective subject area or geographic focus. Each individual listing includes a brief description of the outlet’s coverage area, along with a link to their website. Other similar directories include World Newspapers & Magazines (some of these listings are outdated, but it’s still a good starting point), the Yahoo! News and Media directory and Mondo Times.
I was looking for producers of radio talk shows in Minnesota a couple of weeks ago and turned to Linked In for help. You can dive very deep into contact information about the people you need by using Linked In. It has its limitations, but is the best source I have found and did not pay for.
Media On Twitter
I have communicated directly with individual reporters sending messages to them via Twitter. Of course you have to know their names and who they write for to make use of twitter, but never fear, there is a site for that. You can learn more about the MediaOnTwitter wiki from PRSarahEvans.com. While MediaOnTwitter is the most comprehensive list, there’s also a Media People Using Twitter wiki developed by Jeremy Porter and his staff.
Congress.org Media Guide
This is a useful directory of media outlets organized by your geographic area. You can click on an interactive map to find newspapers in different areas of the country. Each listing includes a description of the outlet, along with some contacts for the publication (geared toward those that cover politics, but still useful).
Regator aggregates the best blog posts on different subjects. While Alltop will show you the best blogs on a subject, Regator shows you the best posts, saving you even more time. It’s useful for finding the most relevant posts on subjects I’m interested in. The best posts are hand-selected by experienced journalists, so you’ll find nothing but great quality here.
TradePub works with business and trade magazine publishers to market free subscriptions to qualified professionals. This is your one-stop-shop for subscribing to a wide-range of free business and trade publications of interest to you. It’s also a great place to find outlets you’ll want to add to your media list.
TVA Productions is a top independent studio that just happens to have an awesome directory of media outlets in many different categories. The directory is well-designed and easy to navigate. The only downside is the directory only lists the name and location of each outlet per category, so you’ll still have to find the outlet’s website to continue your research from there.
Step 5: Manage Expectations
None of these resources will provide anywhere near the volume or accuracy of information found in commercial media databases like Vocus or Cision. It’s true that you get what you pay for when it comes to media research. If you’re managing media relations for several organizations, consider investing in one of these solutions. If you just need to create a media list for your small business or startup, you can do this for free with a moderate amount of effort, using the resources above. I have used Vocus (and still do) and done this using the other tools listed above. Give yourself plenty of time to do it with the free resources and know that the results will not be as complete as they might be.
Step 6: Let Me Help
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