Those of you who’ve read my book, “Celebritize Yourself,” know that it describes a foolproof system for making yourself a go-to source for the media: You provide journalists with the content and insights they need; they provide you with mass-media exposure.
At EMSI, we do that for clients by promoting them as experts in their fields. That’s not so hard to imagine for the entrepreneur who’s developed a smart phone app for recipes, or the tax expert with a book on how to save money. But plenty of people say they don’t have an expertise associated with their products, companies or books to promote – not one that would interest the media anyway.
Usually, they’re wrong, And, as we often find here, it’s often simply a matter of perspective.
Case in point: Darlene Quinn, author of the novel “Webs of Power,” signed on with us in January 2009 after having spent quite a bit of money with another PR agency that got her very limited exposure. She was skeptical about what – if anything – we could do differently.
In Darlene’s case, her novel was “Dynasty” meets Macy’s, a story of power and intrigue at the highest echelons of the retail fashion industry. When we asked her what inspired her to write it, she revealed she had been a top executive at the luxury Bullocks Wilshire department store chain (the parent store in LA served such patrons as John Wayne and Greta Garbo.) She also had friends among the top executives at other upscale department stores, and knew enough about the inside of the business to come up with some very good stories (names changed to protect the guilty and the innocent, of course!).
There it was – the answer.
Promoting Darlene as the author of a racy new novel wouldn’t get her very far; not with the hundreds of thousands of new books published every year. But how many experts on the high-end retail industry are there in the media? Not many! Most top executives don’t want to offend their peers in the business, even if they’re competitors. Who knows when they might have to ask them for a job? Not a problem for Darlene; she’d made a commitment to being an author for the rest of her working days. While she would never purposefully say anything to offend anyone – that’s just not her way – she was free to tell the truth about the business.
Soon, she was being booked on radio and television to talk about the retail industry and its struggles to get through the recession, which was rapidly spiraling downward. A year later, she launched a social media campaign with us, which she continues today. With extensive coverage in the print media, more than 120 radio interviews and several national TV interviews, Darlene is now an undisputed expert in the media on retail matters. In addition, she was able to expose her books – there are now a sequel and a prequel, “Twisted Webs” and “Webs of Power” to millions of readers, listeners and viewers.
There’s a lesson here that can be applied by anyone seeking media exposure for themselves, their message or their book, product or company. First, identify your expertise – the special knowledge, insight and educated opinion that can serve as valuable content for journalists. Then:
1. Follow the news. Look for issues, trends and breaking news relevant to your topic and that you can comment on as an expert.
2. Develop a message that offers something of value to the public. If you can help solve a problem, provide insight or depth or clarify to a complicated issue, you’re providing valuable information.
3. Identify the local or national media venues that are a good match for your message. Read the columnists, watch and listen to the talk shows. Before you approach the journalists, know what their format is and the types of topics that interest them.
4. Never, ever pitch your company, product or service when contacting journalists. Offer yourself as an expert with solutions to problems their audience is concerned about. Otherwise, you’ll be invited to buy an ad or commercial time.
5. Understand who their audience is so you can engage the editor or host. Don’t overwhelm them with trivial details, but make sure to give them the information they need to make an immediate decision to interview you.
Darlene isn’t the first author or entrepreneur to find herself sought after by the media because of her expertise. And she won’t be the last.
Not if we can help it!
About the Author
Marsha Friedman is a 23-year veteran of the public relations industry. She is the CEO of EMSI Public Relations (www.emsincorporated.com), a national firm that provides PR strategy and publicity services to corporations, entertainers, authors and professional firms. Marsha is the author of Celebritize Yourself and she can also be heard weekly on her Blog Talk Radio Show, EMSI’s PR Insider every Thursday at 3:00 PM EST. Follow her on Twitter: @marshafriedman.