I had the privilege of being interviewed by Steve Siebold today at the Million Dollar Speakers Club to discuss publicity and working with the media.
What a great group and they asked some amazing questions. Here are some highlights from the Q&A that everyone can benefit from:
– What is the best type of client?
1. Someone with a great story that has that wow factor. A few examples: Some of my clients include America’s first African American female combat pilot, a guy who ran across America from New York to Los Angeles and a hypnotherapist who can get people to do all kinds of wild and crazy things on television.
2. Someone with a strong message who is controversial and isn’t afraid to go against the masses or conventional logic.
3. Someone who can easily be tied into current events. A great example is my group of airline analysts who appeared on national television 14 times in the last month to talk about Malaysia Airlines flight 370. This is an extreme example, but drives home the point.
4. Any real expert in an industry that the media covers quite frequently.
5. Non-fiction authors who have a new and fresh perspective on a topic. The days of ‘Think happy thoughts’ and ‘be positive’ are over.
– Can I do my own publicity?
Sure you can. Just like I can try to do my own taxes, give myself a haircut or paint my house. It’s doable, and I’ve coached people who have had some great success. In general, however, most people don’t do a very good job. They think generating publicity is simply a matter of writing a press release, sending it to the newsroom and showing up for the interview. They don’t realize just how strong their writing skills must be, the persistence and follow up that is involved, an understanding of how the media works and the types of stories that sell. They don’t have the key relationships with reporters, editors and producers, and they don’t know how to handle the enormous amount of rejection that comes with the process. Most importantly, they don’t have the time to invest to do it right.
– Can I hire you for one month?
Sure you can; however, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Publicity is not a short-term process, but a long-term process or I would even say a life-long process. Siebold noted on the call that none of our massive success came in a week, or a month or even a year. We’ve been at it for five years and still going strong.
– How do you generate publicity over the long term?
In addition to playing into breaking news and current events, it’s all about Ideas. Ideas are the cornerstone to success. Ideas are unlimited, so the more ideas or story angles we develop, the more potential for coverage. Sometimes it’s about thinking outside the box and applying your topic in multiple ways. We gave the example of mental toughness on the call, and this one concept has been applied to weight loss, money, New Year’s resolutions, Tiger Woods, success and so much more. Some ideas stick and the media loves them, and others fail miserably. You keep pitching and trying.
– What’s wrong with the public’s linear view of publicity?
The average person sees publicity as a very linear process: I go on TV, sell a lot of books, maybe get a call from J&J to keynote their annual convention, get my own talk show and become rich and famous. Publicity is a very non-linear process. The main reason for being in the media is to build credibility. It’s to get that silent endorsement for you, your company, product or service. It’s about being seen as an expert, experienced, important and a thought leader. If you go home and wait for the phone to ring, you’re probably going to be waiting a long time. The people who are the most successful are the ones who leverage it all.
– Many speakers say they want to use the media to help get their message out. Is this a good strategy?
Absolutely not. It’s not the media’s job to get your message out. The media doesn’t care about promoting you or pushing your message. The role of the media is to inform the audience about what’s going on in the world or about an interesting story. We use your knowledge to offer perspective, analysis and expertise to the media on different topics, not to push your message.
– What’s your biggest pet peeve with clients?
Long conference calls, meeting after meeting and compiling reports. I’m a publicist. My job is to generate media coverage for my clients. I can either spend my time doing what they pay me to do or spend it on these tasks that usually don’t accomplish much. Don’t get me wrong: the client/publicist relationship is very important, and I need my clients to ‘feed’ me information. After all, you’re the expert. But calls with the social media and branding teams, and compiling reports is not a wise use of my time.