The other day, my teenage son Connor came into my home office and asked if I would like to time him as he solved a Rubik’s Cube before my eyes. It took him about 2 and a half minutes. I have to admit, I was mesmerized. To me, that’s an immensely confusing puzzle. Solving it in any timespan would be overwhelming to me. But to Connor, it was a piece of cake. I asked him how he managed to solve the puzzle so quickly. “It’s easy once you understand how it works, mom.”
You know, he was right.
As a Media Coach, I encounter all kinds of experts – nonfiction authors, doctors, fitness gurus, chefs, designers, and small business owners. They know their chosen fields, but Media, well that’s unfamiliar territory. It’s like a big, confusing puzzle that they don’t understand. So getting publicity for a book, brand, or mission can seem overwhelming, and frankly, impossible.
But the truth is, it’s not, really. You just have to understand how Media works.
For someone like me, who has spent more than 30 years immersed in Media, I understand it like my son understands that Rubik’s Cube. Even better than that. Because to me, there is no puzzle. To me, Media makes perfect sense.
So, it’s only fair that I should fill you in on a few insider tips. Take these tips to heart, and the world of media should seem a little less puzzling:
- Producers, reporters, and columnists in mainstream media know something you probably don’t. They understand that an interview is a win-win. In other words, they’re not doing you a favor by interviewing you for a story. So, don’t put them on a pedestal! They have time or space they have to fill with information that serves their audience. You have expertise, insights, or a compelling story that will be of interest to that same audience. That’s a win-win.
- It’s a myth that you have to “know somebody” in order to be interviewed for a TV show, radio program, or be featured in a newspaper or magazine article. Knowing somebody is not the point. Having something of value to share with the audience served by a media outlet is what really matters. Let me put it this way. When I worked at Oprah, over the course of 12 seasons, I was pitched by friends and family members who had ideas for the show. They knew me, right? They supposedly had an “in.” I spent most of my time at Harpo studios surrounded by individual show producers – decision makers everywhere. Well, I never once pitched anything my friends or family pitched to me. Why? Because there wasn’t one time when someone I knew actually pitched me something relevant to the needs of the show.
- Being different, having an odd back story, or taking an unusual approach to solving a problem in your field, is not a liability to media folks. “Different” is an asset. “Different” stands out. When you’re in the Media, and you get pitched all the time, “different” is what gets your attention.
- Don’t be all things to everybody. Don’t be willing to talk about anything just to get an interview. Be a specialist. Do interviews that play to your strengths and serve your audience.
You know, my son didn’t start out as a Rubik’s Cube master on day 1. It took him a little while to grasp the key concepts that would allow him to solve that complex puzzle. And it will take you some time to figure out Media, but I hope the above tips have helped get you started. For more detailed information, to give you a solid advantage getting started in media, I’ve put together a more comprehensive guide, the 30 Day Media Mentor.