Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Editors Are Busy; That's Good News for You

Assigning editors are busy -- so busy, in fact, that they often get story or segment ideas from other media outlets because they don't have time to uncover something "new," "fresh," or "novel."

Local TV stations, for example, rely heavily on the local daily newspaper for stories to air. But it happens just as often on the national level, too. I received an e-mail today from the host of a Web TV program who was quoted in a national business magazine on the popularity of Web TV shows; he asked people on his mailing list to leave a comment about the story on the publication's Web site. Why? He tells us, "If there are enough comments, other news media will pick up on the article, and it's likely to appear in various well known print publications."

He's half right. Well-known print publications will not reprint an article that appeared in a major national business publication. But, comments or not, if an editor at one of those "well known print publications" (or at a not well-known print publication) sees the article and thinks the topic is a good fit for the outlet's target audience, he might assign his own article on the subject and interview some of the sources featured in the first article.

So, as I've mentioned here before, publicity begets publicity. Get that first mention without worrying about whether it's in just the right media outlet. Get out there and get known. You might be surprised at how a small amount of exposure leads to much more down the road.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

P.S. You'd Better Be a Good Guest, Too!

As a follow-up to last week's posting about how to get on radio talk shows, it's worth noting that it's more important than ever to be a good talk show guest. More and more stations are using a device called the Portable People Meter to monitor how listeners respond to programming. The PPM is so precise in its evaluation of listening habits that station programmers can determine what PPM users were listening to when they decided to change the station -- and which station they switched to.

Program directors are, in fact, using the data to decide which guests do and don't get invited back.

The implications for us as radio talk show guests are pretty clear: We had better learn how to be good guests if we want to

  1. be heard
  2. get invited back
  3. enjoy the easy publicity that comes with referrals from one talk show host to another (and that happens)
The solution? Get educated about how to be a good guest and consider getting professional media training. If you don't have access to media trainers, ask a local jock who does a lot of drive time interviews to spend a few hours with you doing practice interviews and critiquing your responses. Feedback is essential -- it helps you identify what listeners will and won't respond to.

Are you a great radio talk show guest? What do you do that gets you invited back?

Friday, September 18, 2009

How to Get on Radio Talk Shows

Radio talk show host and producer Mark Kaye shared tips on how to get on radio talk shows last month when he was a guest on a teleseminar that I hosted. I took some notes during the 60-minute call, which was loaded with great information for anybody who wants to get on the radio to promote a product, service, or issue. Here are some of Mark's tips from the call:
  • Mark says that too many guests want to talk about themselves. Radio listeners are not interested in us or our products. They tune in for information and entertainment and if we don't provide that, they'll change the station.
  • Authors hoping to promote a book can send a PDF copy of the book or a PDF file with a chapter or two for the producer to review before making a decision about scheduling the author as a guest. This eliminates the expense of sending the actual book.
  • Talk show producers and hosts like to know that you'll be a good guest, so reassure them by posting audio clips of other interviews you've done -- podcasts are fine -- on your Web site.
  • Make your product, book, service, issue, etc. relevant by linking it to what people are talking about today. Check for the "Trending Topics" on the right side of the screen to learn what's generating buzz each day.

If your publicity plan involves radio talk show appearances, check out Mark's "Radio Publicity Star" audio program for great information on who to contact at radio stations, how to contact them, how to be a great guest and get referred to other stations, and so on. It's a great program and I'm proud to be affiliated with it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Register Now for Book Publicity E-course (October 5-30, 2009)

Authors who know the importance of book publicity but can’t afford a pricey publicist now have a very affordable option: a book publicity and promotion e-course offering four weeks of personalized instruction and feedback for under $200. My “Book Publicity 101: How to Build Book Buzz,” e-course is October 5-30, 2009.

The highly-interactive courses – one for traditionally published authors and one for self-published authors – cover how to:
  • Use social networking tools to promote your book
  • Create a book publicity blueprint that makes the most of your available resources
  • Craft the most compelling media materials needed to generate results for your book -- not anyone else's
  • Conduct a virtual book tour with bloggers who can help you build buzz quickly
  • Employ the media relations tools that will take you the farthest fastest
  • Generate high-impact radio interviews
  • Build an author Web site that supports book sales and other goals
  • And plenty more
The course includes:
  • All instruction materials
  • Instructor feedback on all homework assignments and highly-personalized guidance
  • Unlimited question and answer sessions on the forum

The forum format allows students to proceed at their own pace each week, making it the most flexible learning option available. They receive instructional materials and resources and complete weekly assignments that help them discover how easy it is to create book buzz. My guidance and feedback helps take your work to the next level while student interaction on the forum offers fresh perspectives and new ideas for all participants. A free-for-all Q&A corner lets students get answers to questions not covered in the course materials, making this a highly-personalized learning experience for nonfiction and fiction authors.

Registration is $199 and limited to 20 students.

Authors with traditional publishers can register at Self-published authors can register at Got a question? Send me a note:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Rhetoric Has an Impact

The way the rhetoric is flying around the health care debate, you'd think we were still in the middle of a presidential election.

Politicians know better than anybody that rhetoric has an impact -- just ask Sarah Palin. Her op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal, "Obama and the Bureaucratization of Health Care," uses that nasty, nasty phrase "death panel" when referring to the Obama plan.

She knows there was never a plan for a "death panel" just like she knows it's inflammatory language. And, she knows that people hear what they want to hear and believe what they want to believe, regardless of the facts, so she uses phrases like this to create support among those who (a) have no common sense and (b) don't do any research or fact-checking of their own.

Now how smart is that? Politicians -- not just Palin -- do an amazingly good job of leveraging peoples' fears and ignorance. Their goal isn't to inform. It's just to convince the population that the opponent's stance is unacceptable -- "Vote for me! I won't (insert awful thing here)!"

It's not a communications tactic that I use or like in my own business, but it's effective. And it's one you can use when working to sway public opinion or to sell products or services. But be careful if you do. You might be mistaken for a politician. Make sure that fits with your business goals.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Are Colleges Sharing Enough with Parents?

My oldest daughter attends a major Northeastern university; the youngest goes to a small private Jesuit college. The parent relations coordinator at the small school is doing an excellent job of keeping us informed about the swine flu situation on campus (100+ confirmed cases already). Her counterpart at the huge school? Not so much.

I'm getting almost daily e-mails from the Jesuit school telling me that they've encouraged kids to go home for the long Labor Day weekend to reduce the number of people on campus or about how they've set up an isolation ward for students who are sick but can't go home to recover. I feel like I'm as on top of this as I can be from such a distance and I appreciate the steady flow of information from the school. Anyone who isn't getting these e-mails can check the school's dedicated H1N1 Web page for daily updates.

To find out what was going on at my other daughter's large school, I used Google. There's a Web page addressing the situation, but it doesn't say if there are any confirmed cases on campus and the last update was a week ago.

This is no surprise. When the horrifying massacre at Virginia Tech dominated headlines a few years ago, I expected an e-mail from the university reassuring me that the school had a plan in place that would help prevent this from occurring there or that it had briefed students on how to react in a similar situation. Did I get such an e-mail? Nope. Thinking that maybe the school just didn't have my e-mail address, I watched my USPS mail for a letter updating me on the school's efforts to keep my daughter safe. Didn't get that, either. My daughter received e-mails from school officials on the topic, which is good, but as her parent and one of the people paying her bills at that school, I don't think it was unreasonable for me to expect to hear from the college then or now.

I'm left wondering: Does big university = bad communication with parents and small university = good communication with parents? Is the difference size or is it attitude? I have no idea, but I'm grateful that at least one of them recognizes that I am concerned about the health and safety of my children.

It's a reminder that we sometimes forget that all of our "stakeholders" are important -- not just some of them. Every time we're in a position to make an announcement or communicate important information, we need to review our list of stakeholders. Are we overlooking any group? It's always better to over communicate than to under communicate.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Don't Include Known Spam Triggers in Your Press Releases

It's not easy writing press releases that will always make it past spam filters and get to their intended recipients. The list of words and phrases that trigger spam alerts seems to keep growing.

To help people like us, SalesNexus has published a list of more than 300 words or phrases to avoid using in e-mail messages. I'd share some here, but then the people who subscribe to this blog via e-mail might not receive the message. Let's just say that I was surprised by some of them.

SalesNexus, a Web-based contact management company, has also published an e-book with e-mail marketing advice -- some of which might apply to publicists using e-mail to connect with journalists.

Thanks to the folks at SalesNexus for making this list available on the company's site. They're doing a nice job of showing, rather than telling, that the way to win customers is to share information that illustrates that they know what they're doing.