Wednesday, June 30, 2010

6 top TV talk show interview mistakes

It's an exciting moment when you get that call inviting you to be a guest on a TV talk show. It doesn't matter if the show is local or national -- it's a big deal for you and your business. A TV interview seen by the people you want to communicate with can make a big difference in the success of your product, business, or service.

So don't blow it.

Here are the top mistakes I see made by talk show guests on national and local TV shows:
  1. Forgoing media training. Don't appear on national television without at least a few hours of professional media training. When you appear stiff or frightened or your voice is noticeably shaky, we don't absorb your messages because we're distracted by your body language. Professional training will help you relax and be your usual confident self. You know your stuff -- get a little help presenting it in the big time.
  2. Locking your hands together on your lap. Are you afraid they'll run off the set without you? When you're off camera, you use your hands when you talk, so don't tie them up when you're on camera. You can't appear (and feel) natural if you're not using your hands to help you make a point or give your comments emphasis.
  3. Relying on your memory and not your knowledge. Don't memorize what you want to say and then recite your messages like a bad cue card reader. You know your subject better than anyone -- that's why you're on the show.
  4. Not preparing enough. You want to make the most of this opportunity and there are no do-overs with live interviews, so prepare for the event by watching the show so you know what to expect. Give some thought to the questions you'll be asked and practice your answers. Ask a colleague or friend to critique your answers -- too long? short? dull? -- and presentation -- flat? scared? low-key? Which of your anecdotes does the best job of making your point?
  5. Wearing distracting or inappropriate clothing. This is a problem for women, especially. You don't want anything around your face that will distract from what you're saying, so no large earrings, flamboyant scarves, or heavy necklaces, even if they reflect your personal style. We are easily distracted and you want us to focus on your words, not your accessories.
  6. Getting too comfortable. Sit on the edge of the chair with your back straight so you're more energetic and animated during the interview. This is important because an energetic demeanor is more engaging for viewers (and channel surfers) than one that is low-key and relaxed.
Remember, too, to listen to how you're greeted. I've blogged about this knee-jerk "thank you for having me" response no matter how the guest is greeted, and while it's entertaining for people like me who notice these things even if we shouldn't, it's not how you want to start your TV conversation. Listen, respond, listen, respond.

What's your best tip for TV talk show interviews?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

How do small businesses use e-mail and social media for marketing?

AWeber Communications just announced results of its e-mail and social marketing survey of more than 2,500 small businesses. The most popular tactics at the moment involve using e-mail and social media options to spread content to additional mediums. More than one-third (36 percent) shared information about their e-mail newsletters on Twitter, while 35 percent delivered blog posts via e-mail.

Here are the survey highlights:
  • E-mail marketing continues to bring significant value to businesses with more than 82 percent of respondents planning to increase their e-mail marketing efforts over the next year.
  • The more social media grows in popularity among consumers, the more attention it will receive from marketers. Almost 70 percent of small business marketers are employing some sort of social media tactics and a majority (77 percent) indicate that integrating e-mail marketing and social media is either “very important” or “moderately important.”
  • The most popular tactics at the moment involve spreading content onto additional mediums such as sharing e-mail newsletters on Twitter (36 percent) and delivering blog posts via e-mail (35 percent).
  • Nearly 50 percent of respondents indicated that behavioral targeting (sending specific e-mails to people according to previous messages they've opened or links they've clicked in the messages) increases their conversion rates either significantly or moderately.
  • More than 66 percent of respondents indicate they intend to use behavioral targeting as well as sales tracking in their campaigns over the next 12 months.
  • 54 percent of respondents indicate they intend to use Facebook as a tool to help build their e-mail lists.
  • Nearly 20 percent of respondents indicate that integrating e-mail marketing and social media increased customer loyalty.
  • Almost 12 times as many respondents said that e-mail marketing ROI is more easily measured than social media ROI (61 percent versus 5 percent).

How are you using e-mail and social media marketing to help get the word out about your business?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Personalize your media materials

Follow the lead of college communications offices and boost your success rate with your media relations materials by personalizing them as often as possible. When you make it clear why your news or information is relevant to the outlet's audience, you increase the chance that it will be used and shared.

When colleges announce the names of students selected for the Dean's List each semester, they don't send one release listing all the names to every hometown newspaper. They use technology to create individual press releases for every market with a name on the list. These PR people know that newspaper editors would never comb through a long list looking for the hometowns in their circulation area -- it's just too much work for too little reward.

Similarly, if -- for example -- you're supporting a new product test marketing campaign by sending a press release to local media outlets in the three market cities, change your release title and e-mail subject line for each city from "Acme Beverages tests unique new beverage in three markets" to "Acme Beverage selects Indianapolis for one of three test markets for new beverage." This personalization makes the local connection as clear as possible.

Similarly, a national organization announcing a new intiative to local markets can provide the name, phone number, and e-mail address of a local contact or chapter leader so that the media outlet has someone local to call to uncover specifics about the impact of the initiative on the specific community. Announcing the 25 finalists in a national competition? Personalize the announcements going to the media in each of those finalists' hometowns. Sure, it takes more work to use technology change the headline and first paragraph of each of those announcements -- and then to make sure that each one goes to the correct media outlets -- but the increased pick-up (and resulting exposure) makes it well worth the effort.

Geographic personalization makes the difference between lackluster and exciting results.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How Consumers Want to Hear from Nonprofits

Struggling to figure out how much emphasis to put on new versus old media? According to the Cone Trend Tracker, while new media offer powerful ways to reach and engage consumers, nonprofits will have more success communicating messages or calls to action by using traditional media, advertising, and events.

The 2010 Cone Nonprofit Marketing Trend Tracker online survey reports that while word-of-mouth is tops, mobile messaging is last. Here's a ranking of the most effective approaches, according to survey responses; use it to help guide your marketing and promotion strategy and tactics:
  • 81% by word-of-mouth from family or friends
  • 80% through traditional media (e.g., newspapers, magazines, television)
  • 74% in advertising
  • 69% at events
  • 66% in the store, on a package or at the register
  • 64% through standard mail
  • 59% through e-mail
  • 49% through social media channels (e.g., Facebook, blogs, YouTube, Twitter)
  • 29% on mobile devices (via text messaging)

It wouldn't surprise me if this information applied to communication from small businesses and other organizations, too. What has worked best for your nonprofit?

Friday, June 11, 2010

How to Host a Book Contest

Need to know how to put together a book contest? The current issue of Build Book Buzz will tell you how to use this promotional tool to help call attention to your book. Learn the most important steps to follow and see how one author has done it by subscribing to the free e-newsletter at

You'll receive this issue as soon as you subscribe through June 22, 2010. There is no online archive.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Vocus Acquires Shankman's HARO

Press release distribution company Vocus, which owns one of my favorite press release distribution services, PRWeb*, announced today that it has acquired HARO. HARO -- "help a reporter out" -- is publicist Peter Shankman's service that connects journalists with sources. Shankman has done an admirable job of building his ProfNet copycat into an impressive source of income for his business. While financial terms weren't disclosed in the Vocus announcement, we can assume that Shankman did very well.

I'm looking forward to seeing what Vocus will do with the service. I'm sure they're smart enough to keep it free.

*affiliate link

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Do You Care About Al and Tipper?

I tweeted yesterday about how the news of the Gore break-up presents authors who are relationship or divorce experts with an opportunity to pitch themselves to the media as talk show guests or article resources. It also provides local therapists and counselors with an opportunity to provide local commentary on a national story with their local media outlets. Publicity is -- like it or not -- all about being opportunistic. Why let your competitor do that noon TV talk show interview about why marriages end after 40 years when you could be doing it? It's a sad situation, but it's a business opportunity for some.

I was surprised, then, when a usually savvy author of books on other topics commented on my Facebook page, "Like who cares? . . . There are a lot more important things to worry about." Well, yeah, of course there are. What to have for lunch today is one of them. But his question made me realize that I care. While other recent high-profile breakups haven't moved me much, this one has left me sad.

Here's why this one bothers me. If those lip-locking love birds can't stay married, who can? I haven't been able to pull it off, but people like the Gores made me feel that is is possible. When I saw all that they've endured and accomplished as a couple, I was reassured that living happily ever after with a spouse is possible.

Oops -- maybe not.

And while some are wondering if Tipper gets half of the Internet, I'm thinking about couples and happiness. Sure, they've grown apart blah blah blah and maybe splitting gives them the opportunity to find happiness with a new soulmate yada yada yada. I get it. But still, I feel like somebody has popped a balloon in front of me. I want to believe that when you stay married that long, you will pick out a long-term care facility together, too. You'll always have somebody watching your back . . . or wiping the drool off your chin.

Where are you on this? Do you care, or, like my author friend, are you completely unmoved by the end of this marriage?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How to Promote an Event

The Journalistics blog ran a great piece today about how to use social media to market an event. Let's expand on that topic here and review how to use traditional media to market an event. Most situations benefit from a combination of both. Include as many of these elements or tasks into your planning as possible:
  • Create a plan with a timetable. Events have lots of moving parts and if you don't have a large staff, you'll be distracted by the logistics and forget about publicity components if you don't have it all on paper with a calendar that reminds you when to do what.
  • Incorporate newsworthy elements. Maybe it's the "first" or "world's largest" whatever, a local media personality as your emcee, or a celebrity speaker.
  • Uncover and use all of your pre-event publicity angles. Those elements above are key here -- who cares if you've got newsworthy angles if you aren't using them to get media coverage? I was once responsible for planning and publicizing the first beach snowshoe race, a charity fundraiser sponsored by a beverage alchohol brand. It was covered by national TV media only because I alerted them.
  • Make a pitch for on-site media coverage. It's too late to generate attendance at this point, but the exposure is good for your image, product, cause, or service.
  • Look for ways to get publicity after the event, too. Hire a professional photographer to take candid photos you can send to weekly newspapers and add to your newsletter and Web site. Was it a fundraiser? Send a news release announcing how much money was raised and how it will be used. Did the event break records? Share that information with the press.
You can't afford to overlook either social or traditional media when promoting your event, so make sure your plan incorporates as many tools and tactics from both as possible.