Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Buzz Kill: How to Make Sure You Never Get Another Call from a Reporter

A journalist friend complained recently that the author of a self-published cookbook said she was "too busy" to schedule an interview for a large feature in a major consumer magazine. (I don't want to tell you the name of the magazine, but I will say that it rhymes with "wealth.")

"I can't," the cookbook queen told my friend. "I'm too busy filling orders." Dumbfounded by the response, my friend gave her one last chance, figuring that perhaps the woman hadn't quite heard the name of the magazine or wasn't making the connection between that magazine's readers and the author's cookbook. It was, in fact, a perfect match, so she reminded the author of this. The woman declined again.

Let's give her the benefit of the doubt and say that my friend just caught her on a bad day. Let's also learn from this.

Please don't turn away a journalist who is willing to promote your product, service, or organization in exchange for 15 to 20 minutes of your time on the phone spent talking about what you know best. I realize that sometimes busy people have to be selective about the media outlets they talk to, but I will also say that you'd be surprised at what you can generate from readers/viewers/listeners of offline or online outlets that seem, on the surface, to be off target for you.

This cookbook author won't get a second chance with this particular journalist, who specializes in articles related to the topic of the cookbook. I hope for her sake that this misstep was just a fluke, and not a pattern. I want to see authors thrive -- not just survive -- and this one has me worried.

Have you ever declined to be interviewed by one of your target media outlets? What happened?


Tracy said...

Get out of town! I can't imagine anyone turning down an editor from a major magazine like that. It's not like doing an interview would take that much time out of fulfilling her orders!

Sandra Beckwith said...

Yes! It's very short-sighted. Think of how many additional orders she could generate if she did the interview!

Candy Harrington said...

I couldn't agree more Sandy. I'm also amazed at the number of authors who won't give out information (tips and resources) to reporters. After all we are suppose to be the experts and one way to do that is to be quoted.

Some authors are afraid of having their resources/sources/tips stolen so they won't give interviews. They are afraid the reporter will take the tips and not give them credit. Big mistake. I do a LOT of interviews (I welcome them even when busy) and it's always worked out very well for me. To be honest, I'll talk to a reporter even if I'm on deadline. I can always make up time or fudge a bit on the deadline, but I can't get a reporter back that I turn away (which I would never do!).

Candy Harrington

Sandra Beckwith said...

Candy, I agree with you completely. It's my experience that many writers and authors are indeed paranoid and that makes them reluctant to share information for promotional purposes. I've tried to educate them about how sharing information and advice can work in their favor, but some are too set in their ways (or personality type) to be open to the possiblities.