How Not To Get Asked Back For Free P.R.

One of your goals as a media expert is to make it into the “rolodex” of bookers, so that when a story hits the news that fits into your area of expertise you’ll be contacted and asked to contribute your thoughts. In exchange, you’ll receive a much deserved “plug” for your book, product or service and valuable free exposure on television, radio, print or online outlets at no cost.

Thomas Ricks, author of THE GENERALS received an opportunity like that on the highest rated national cable network (Fox News Channel) and essentially “bit the hand that fed him”. This will almost certainly result in him never being asked back on the network, and also likely caused the segment booker to receive a severe reprimand from their superior for not vetting their guest better. It also caused the author’s segment to be immediately cut short, costing him more very valuable national exposure.

Regardless of your political leanings, attacking the outlet that gives you thousands of dollars worth of free exposure is never a good idea.  If however, it was Mr. Ricks goal to end his relationship with Fox News Channel, he succeeded spectacularly.  Take a look here at what happened here:

What to Expect on a Nationally Syndicated Radio Interview

What would it be like to be a guest on a top rated national radio program, like Sean Hannity, NPR’s All Things Considered, Howard Stern or Tom Joyner? Several Allen Media Strategies clients have recently appeared on the nationally syndicated Mancow Experience radio show. Based in Chicago and syndicated nationwide, Mancow has one the most listened to programs in the Midwest. Here are the notes that their show producer sent to us to share with our clients:

“Our team will call several minutes before interview time to ensure a good connection, and our studio can be reached at 312-XXX-XXXX or 312-XXX-XXXX as a backup. (Interviews are live, and are sometimes replayed later in the week.)”

“Mancow likes to move quickly between guests and topics (usually 4-8 minutes per interview), so we like guests to be prepared to hit the ground running. He loves to exercise a sense of humor and highlight unique details about popular topics. The more surprising details the better – Mancow loves the weird and unconventional.”

“Because there are many guests on the show, there may be a brief period of waiting while the previous guest finishes. At the close, if Mancow is unable to say goodbye, then our producers will do it for him.”

Of course, not every national radio program is exactly like Mancow, but most are looking for the same traits in their guests: surprising, weird and unconventional (what is your unique, compelling take on your subject of interest?) and 4-8 minute segments both in TV and radio, brevity and self editing is key.

You should always listen to audio of a show BEFORE you’re a guest there to get a feel for the host’s sense of humor, style and the rhythm and flow of conversation.  Preparation is key!

One of the Top P.R. Mistakes

It’s not the way the release is written; it’s not how you perform during the interview. It’s a simple…thank you. Thank you to the reporter who wrote about you; thank you to the radio host who had you on his or her show as a guest.  Thank you to the cameraman from the TV station, who never gets any of the credit that gets gobbled up by the high profile anchor and reporter.  Remember, reporters and show hosts don’t owe you anything; it’s a privilege and honor that you’ve been given, and should be treated as such. The media is a very transient business, and saying thank you to media pros in one market will often help you in another market somewhere down the road. Plus, it’s simply the right thing to do. To make your thank you really stand out, send a hand written note to the media pro.

Book Publicity Strategy

Allen Media Strategies is proud to work with fantastic authors on their book campaigns. Often, we’re hired by both the author and the publisher. Why? Because book publicity is very competitive. With advances in technology, so many more new authors can now get their book into print, which means the competition for publicity and media coverage is tougher than it’s ever been. The power of P.R. to sell books via print and online coverage and radio and TV interviews is well documented. As such, thousands of authors and other guest experts are constantly gunning for media coverage, so getting media pros to notice you and your book is harder than ever. The number one way authors become successful is because they try, and you must try, with the understanding that book marketing is no different than any other very competitive industry. Making others aware of your book doesn’t happen overnight or because of one or two successful media hits. It takes time to achieve and sustain promotional momentum, and it typically takes at least three months to see book sales materialize from a P.R. campaign. The most successful authors we work with spend at least a year promoting their book in one way or another.

Questions You Should Ask… Before You Start Answering

Anyone who appears in the media should be prepared to answer questions. But, you should also be prepared to ask questions before your interview. Here are three of the most important items you want to find out:

1) What’s the Format? For TV or radio interviews, you can learn the show’s target demographic audience to help you tailor your content. You can also find out if you’ll be live, taped, edited, etc. You can determine the length of the interview, and whether you’ll be on the phone, in studio, at a remote location, etc. For print interviews, this question can help you determine whether the journalist will just use a quote or two, or if they’re doing an in-depth piece on you and your area of expertise.

2) What’s Your Name? We recently spoke with a popular national TV show booker who gave us an inside secret! She revealed that guests who use the hosts name when answering the hosts questions always received a warmer on-air response. It also gives the impression of an “implied endorsement” from the interviewer, as if you appear to be pals having a conversation. You should also find out what news organization they work for and whether they cover a particular topic or beat.

3) When will it air (or be published)? You want to be prepared to share the coverage with your online followers by tweeting it, posting it on Facebook, etc. as soon as it comes out (with links to video, audio or text) as long as it’s positive coverage for you. If it’s a negative piece, be ready to issue a response if called for (sometimes, it’s best to just let it go if the media outlet has limited market penetration).

If we can assist you in preparing for an important upcoming media appearance, we’re always happy to help!


Burke Allen featured in Insights Magazine

Allen Media Strategies CEO Burke Allen has been featured in a cover story for INSIGHTS Magazine.  In the feature he shares strategies from various insiders on media, marketing, public relations, crisis management, and more culled from his three decade career in front of the camera and behind the microphone.

Click here to read the article!