We often get asked how Allen Media Strategies routinely land the really big media hits for our clients. It’s gotten to the point where folks who want us to represent them come to us now expecting we can waive our magic wand and get them on CNN, The New York Times front page or Howard Stern’s radio show just by making a call. As a matter of fact, it happened to me just this morning. “Get me on NPR; I deserve to be there.” Maybe, but not so fast.
Yes, our clients have appeared on thousands of media outlets including all the national television and radio networks, the biggest newspapers and magazines, the most trafficked websites. No, it’s not automatic. If any agency tells you they can always make that happen, run away from them and make sure you still have your wallet with you when you leave.
So, how do we do it? How do we land the big fish? And, how can you do it even if you’re not an Allen Media Strategies client? Here’s the first, most important rule:
Know The Show.
Not only should you actually know who you’re pitching, you have to be prove you know the show when you make first contact. It you send a “Dear NAME” email you’re dead in the water. And, you have to grab them in the subject line or they’ll never even open the email. At a minimum, you need to mention the host or writer’s name and the type of segment you see yourself fitting into. To horribly mis-quote the late Johnny Cochran “if the show don’t fit, you must quit!”
This doesn’t mean just spending 30 seconds Googling the show, writing down the name(s) you need, and jamming them into the subject line of your email. (By the way, when I say “show”, this same advice goes for TV and radio shows, as well as print and online outlets).
Years ago, I had a client who received an interview request for a very controversial TV show. My client wasn’t familiar with the host or their platform. Our client was an earring wearing West Coast liberal. The TV host was a loud, animated and highly rated conservative flamethrower. My client was pretty excited about the huge national exposure…until I had him watch video of the show. When he quickly admitted he couldn’t handle himself with the host, we did specific media and message training and our client knocked it out of the park on the air.
The bottom line? Invest the time to get yourself prepared. Do your homework. Listen, watch or read at least 3 days in a row to get a real feel for the content, texture and style of the interviewer. Note their topic base. Determine the media outlet’s target demographic. Do they target men or women? What age range would their content most appeal to? What types of “non-celebrity” guests do they feature? Is there a political lean, and if so, how can you thread that needle while being true to yourself and your brand, and still utilizing their audience to grow your own tribe?
Here’s the good news. The internet has made it much easier to do this homework, and at your own schedule. Record radio shows or podcasts; most stream online. DVR TV shows. Archive and bookmark articles.
If you really, truly think your idea, platform or concept is worth being considered by some of the most overworked, underpaid, buried-by-email people on the planet (TV and radio show producers and print journalists whose are constantly doing way more work with way fewer people) then the least you can do is actually prepare and properly target your pitch to them. Believe me, they’ll appreciate you not wasting their time like hundreds of other hopefuls do, and eventually, that preparation will pay off.
What’s that? You say that’s way too much work, time, effort and energy to devote to pitching one media outlet? That’s fine. You just determined that you shouldn’t be pitching a big show, so you can save yourself the time of trying and failing. Call us instead. We’ll do it right. And if we keep on using the right bait, we’re gonna catch that big fish.