So, you’ve written a book or you’re establishing yourself as the foremost expert in your chosen field and it’s time to take your message to the masses.
Good for you.
I’m not going to take up this valuable space and waste our time telling you why publicity is better than advertising and how being an expert in your field makes you a great media guest and how being a great guest gets you bigger and better interviews and how all that translates to a better bottom line for your book, product or service sales. What I am going to tell you is why radio should be the first step on your road to Good Morning America and beyond.
Here’s my unique perspective: I do radio. For nearly thirty years I’ve produced and hosted morning shows from Los Angeles to Phoenix to St. Louis to Tampa and points in-between. I have booked and interviewed literally tens of thousands of guests. I know what makes a good guest and I know what makes a terrible guest.
But I am also an author who, like you, is trying to get my message out to as many people as possible. Using the skills I developed in radio, last year I managed to appear on the other side of the microphone on stations across the Country including a live twelve minute afternoon drive segment on WGN in Chicago and I had a full hour dedicated to me and my book on Oprah’s Soul Series on XM radio.
Let’s be realistic, I know your goal is not to be on the local morning radio show. Your goal should be The View, Fox and Friends etc. The fact is hardly anyone reaches their goal on the first shot. I’m sorry but when you hear stories of someone making their first pitch to Good Morning America and getting booked immediately, that’s the exception, not the rule.
Let’s look at it in baseball terms: Good Morning America, Today Show, CNN are the Major Leagues. So you have to ask yourself “Am I ready for the Majors?” For most of you the answer is probably ‘not yet.’ My solution is simple: treat local radio like the minor leagues.
1 – There’s a ton of Radio out there. Both locally and nationally. As of May 2010, the National Association of Broadcasters indicated there were 14,420 full-service radio stations in the US. Before the end of 2011, there will be close to 15,000. Radio stations and morning shows in particular are challenged to come up with compelling content every day. (For the sake of clarity ‘content’ is essentially anything that falls between the records and the commercials. In talk radio, it’s pretty much the entire program.) I won’t lie to you, competition for that air time is fierce but if you can create compelling and entertaining content, it will certainly help your chances of getting airtime.
2 – Radio is immediate: You can schedule an interview this morning and be on the air this afternoon. You don’t need to fly to New York to be on the radio. If you have a phone, you can be on the air RIGHT NOW!
3 – Radio Has Reach: Even though the major social media outlets (Face Book, Twitter etc) boasts billions of subscribers, radio has the ability to go places they cannot (think workplace or in the car.) Every day, hundreds of millions of people at some point are listening to their radio. A good “radio tour” (a series of 3-5 minute phone interviews) can deliver your message to literally hundreds of thousands of potential readers or customers across the country. As one publicist told me “Nothing sells books like morning radio!”
4 – Radio publicity is Free: Advertising can be VERY expensive. Unless you are on a bartered time program (you pay to sponsor the segment on which you appear,) there’s no cost other than your time.
5 – (Most important) Radio is the best way to hone and develop your skills for the Major Leagues: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” “Practice, practice, practice.”
To be a great guest in addition to delivering your message or information you need to be compelling, relevant and entertaining. That doesn’t come overnight for most people. Being a media-savvy expert, being a good guest takes practice. Radio (when used properly) can give you the opportunity to polish your presentation.
Think about the first piece you ever wrote or your first foray into your field of expertise. Kinda clunky, wasn’t it? The more you wrote, the better the quality of your work. It’s like a muscle; it doesn’t grow unless you work it out. That’s why you’ve got to start small.
Local radio is also forgiving. On this level it’s okay to make mistakes. Here’s something to think about; would you rather discover you have a phobia about doing media interviews while talking to Captain Quake and the Breakfast Flakes Morning Show in Paducah with an audience in the dozens or while face to face with Dr. Oz and about 15 million viewers?
Use local radio as a practice game. Develop your interviewing skills here so you’ll shine there.
There are dozens of questions to be asked and answered; probably the most important is “How do I start down this road?” Obviously, having a great publicist or marketing team would take the burden of this process of your shoulders. But since many of you may not be in a position to afford one, with the help of my media colleagues, I will be more than happy to answer those questions in future articles. For now, the most important thought to keep with you is when it comes to creating your marketing and media attack; never forget the power of 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.