Before You Pitch: What to do Before You Contact the Media

Sorry to say but unless you are really, really, really good, if you are an expert or author looking to be interviewed by the media, there is no one sure-fire way to get a producer or announcer to put you on the air immediately. But after consulting with several top producers across the country and using my own experiences, there’s one thing you must do to get the edge on your competition before you ever contact the media.

Develop a good hook and a great pitch.

Here’s how to do it: First thing you must do before you do anything else is answer this question;

“What do I have to offer?” or better still “Why should this producer give me the time of day?”

Time is the most precious commodity we have and when you make your pitch to be a guest, you are asking this producer for not only their time but for the time of their host and their audience.

“How can my expertise be beneficial to this audience?” This can be a difficult question to answer. You already know the value of what you’ve written or have become an expert in. Question is can you tell the audience why it’s important to them?

A major mistake made by people like you and like me is that we lose sight on the fact that what we have, what we are, is a product. Our ultimate goal should be to sell ‘the product.’ Some product’s value is obvious: think can opener. Other products you may have to get creative with.

So before you ever write a press release, before you make a phone call or send an email, have the answer to that question ready. Know what your product is, establish its value and be ready to passionately speak on its behalf.

Here are two quick examples of establishing value: Lauri Loewenberg (www.lauriloewenberg.com) is the author of several books dealing with dreams. She is a dream interpreter/expert who listens to your dreams and tells you what they mean. Everyone can see a value in that.

On the other side of the coin, my book ‘Adventures With My Father: Childhood Recollections of Divorce, Dysfunction and the Summer of Love’ deals with how I grew up in a divorced household in the sixties. Great book if I do say so myself, very poignant, very personal yet told with great sarcasm and humor.  But really, where is the value in hearing about my childhood?

That was a head scratcher. I had to really tilt the box and look at it unemotionally. What could I say to a perfect stranger that would be beneficial or relatable to them? It was a very wise man of the cloth, Rev. Ed Bacon who summed it up for me. When he interviewed me on Oprah Radio, his theme was ‘going from victim to victor.’ He explained that through perseverance, determination and humor, I turned what could have been a miserable childhood into the building blocks of a successful adult life.

I became an expert at surviving dysfunction.

Is that as marketable as being a dream expert? Probably not but it’s what I know.

Once you’ve found the value of your product, it’s time to put it in a package. Packaging is crucial if you plan on taking your product to the media!

I was listening to an interview by a very successful publisher who said the most difficult process and crucial move in all of publishing is coming up with the right title and cover for a book.

Consider the title: In a few words you must sum up the entirety of what’s inside. Turn the book over and you have about half a page to present a compelling reason for someone to take your book (or expertise) home. Same goes with your pitch and your hook.

As a radio host, I am asking you, begging you, please get to the point. In one sentence, tell me what you got, why I care and why I should share it with my audience. Don’t give me a three-page dissertation on what compelled you to write this masterpiece and don’t give me a stack of accolades from people I don’t know. DON’T WASTE MY TIME.

More and more research is telling us that you have precious few seconds to capture my attention and peak my interest. But most of us are guilty of giving up the history of the wristwatch when asked the time. When you send that pitch, you’ve got about three lines to get me or I’m gone.

Another thing about pitches: Don’t give me clever, give me concrete. Keep it simple.

Don’t say: ‘Heed these words to avoid the pitfalls and the journey down the unwise path into the depths of lawlessness.”

Say: “Here are 5 ways to stay out of jail this weekend.”

 

Here’s a real pitch I received recently:

“Dream expert Lauri Loewenberg has the five most common recurring nightmares and what you can do to make them stop immediately.”

From my standpoint as a producer and a radio host, this is near perfect.

Let’s tear it apart:

“Dream expert Lauri Loewenberg” immediately I know who she is and what she is;

“the five most common recurring nightmares…” here’s the pitch, okay something everybody has experienced;

“What you can do to make them stop immediately.” Instant gratification and an immediate solution. Empowering YOU to fix the problem. Bring ‘em in boys, we hooked em.

When it comes to actually writing your pitch, you should be the one to express the value of your product. Consulting with experts, family and friends is a smart move but ultimately YOU are the face and the embodiment of the product so the words should come from you. You can have someone else write your pitches for you, but make sure it suits you. Because if the suit doesn’t fit, you won’t look very good on TV!

Take the time and really think it out. Define the product. Give it a title and a cover. Make it brief, make it obvious, make it compelling with an expectation of a beneficial pay-off. Then give me a call.

Be Brilliant!

(Next time: How to Make Sure You NEVER Get on the Radio)

Skip Mahaffey in an award-winning broadcaster, Media Coach/Consultant and Author of Adventures With My Father: Childhood Recollections of Divorce, Dysfunction and the Summer of Love. Skip is available for consultation by calling 813-388-1035 or email: skip@skipshow.com

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