How To Get On Local Media
The late Gore Vidal notoriously said: “Never turn down an opportunity to have sex or to appear on television.” The point is to get in a position to be asked.
WHAT MEDIA DO YOU WANT?
You need to investigate what’s out there where you live, and pick your targets.
Television: Most large to mid-sized television markets have morning news shows preceding the national ones which kick off at 7 am EST. They often book interview guests, and usually are starved for staff and time to find them. Present yourself.
On an even more bare bones scale, local commercial radio, NPR affiliates, and public access TV often do interviews. Regardless of audience size, if you are just starting out its worthwhile to get experience being interviewed, and you might get a tape useful in marketing yourself elsewhere up the food chain [see “Know How To Say It” below].
Much of this applies to print and online media as well. Check out local newspapers, neighborhood weeklies, local and regional blogs for opportunities to get your word out.
You can bring media attention to yourself in many ways. For the examples above, email or call the specific shows you are interested in and enquire which person does planning, or futures. [You may get the person themselves on first try, so have a pitch in mind. ]
Ask how they prefer their information – email, email with attachments, email with link to an electronic press kit, paper press kit or release – and follow their directions.
If you hold yourself out to be an expert on something or other, by all means have a blog with comments on developments in the field. Media people are out their trolling for people knowledgeable on anything under the sun, and you want to be visible around your topic.
You might try the free services of Help A Reporter Out http://www.helpareporter.com/ . Once you register for HARO you’ll get emails of categories of sources reporters are seeking. If you fit the bill and respond your chances of media notice are certainly greater than waiting for someone to come by your lemonade stand.
HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY
Once you’ve got their attention you need to deliver. If you’ve billed yourself as the world expert on vacation time-shares in Guam you have to be able to talk the talk, or be relegated to the ranks of the wannabees.
KNOW HOW TO SAY IT
In both your written and oral communications you need to get to your point and make it succinctly. No one has time or interest in how you came to your present pinnacle of success, or lessons learned on the way. Your value to the media is as a live representative of a type or category, or as a knowledgeable person about something not everyone knows. Especially in a live broadcast situation the producer you are dealing with needs to have confidence in your performance skills in addition to the information you bring.
If you’ve put yourself out to a media outlet, don’t be coy when they call. They will typically be crashing about trying to fill that day’s or tomorrow’s news hole asap, and you can either be the chosen one or waste their time. If someone is asking you to speak to something outside your area of expertise tell them so, but respond politely to calls and emails or they may not come again.
Tom Young has received thousands of pitches over two decades in media, and would like you to get to the point.