Technology makes it easier than ever to shout out your message to the world. But these tools are available to everyone—and everyone’s using them. How can you be heard above the noise?
Publicity helps you rise above the noise. When you connect with influencers and let them spread your message, they reach more people than you can alone. With the right email—to the right person—you can get booked as a guest or for an interview.
Over my years working in the media, I’ve seen many do this wrong. Below are 13 tips to help you avoid some of their mistakes…
MAKE YOUR WEBSITE MEDIA-FRIENDLY.
Your author website should have publicity materials that make it quick and easy to figure out who you are as an author and what you offer.
- These materials should include an author biography, suggested questions, and a one-sheet.
- There should also be information that demonstrates your authority—this may include articles on your topic, and media files where you demonstrate or speak on your expertise.
- Make it easy to contact you by sharing your email address or a simple contact form.
- There should also be links to your social media accounts.
Want some free media kit templates? Click here.
BE FAMILIAR WITH THE MEDIA OUTLET.
Before you pitch yourself to any media outlet, make sure that you’ve actually read it or listened to it or watched it. Read a couple of issues or sit through a couple of episodes. Get to know the format, including any departments or regular segments. Learn what kind of editorial content they cover.
Also note what they don't do—never offer a kind of content that isn’t part of their regular format.
Based on their editorial calendar and production schedule, professionals in the media work weeks or months ahead of their publication or broadcast date. If your pitch is tied to a certain time of year—say, "back to school" or "spring cleaning" or a holiday—don't wait until it's already that season to pitch your idea. Make your pitch at least a couple of months in advance so they have time to put you on the schedule. They can't cover you if you’re too late.
Consider offering evergreen topics that are always relevant. Then, even if they're booked up now, your idea still works when a slot opens later.
FOCUS ON VALUE FOR THE AUDIENCE.
Sorry to break this to you, but the media doesn't care about you or your book. People working in the media only care about keeping the audience engaged. It’s their job to keep those people listening or watching or reading.
What does the audience care about? (Hint: Not you or your book.) The members of that audience aren’t watching or listening or reading out of a sense of goodwill. They want to be educated, enlightened, or entertained—so pitch a topic that promises to entertain, enlighten, or educate them.
TARGET THOSE WHO ACTUALLY CARE.
It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking what you have to offer is for everybody. The fact is, your audience is not "everybody"—it’s only people with an interest in your category or topic. Target as specific an audience as possible, so you can focus your energy on those who already want what you have to offer.
DON’T FOCUS ON YOUR BOOK.
You are more than your book: You are a teacher, expert, storyteller, or speaker. You have something to share that can entertain, enlighten, or educate that audience. You are an authority in your field who also has a book (which reinforces the fact that you are the expert). Your topic offers way more opportunities to start a conversation than blurting out, “I have a book.”
Want to make an author media kit and don't know where to start?As a special gift to you, I'd like to give you a free set of author media kit templates! The set includes simple guides to create your author bio(s), book one-sheet, book announcement, and more. Click here to find out how you can receive your free templates...
BUILD RELATIONSHIPS BEFORE YOU NEED THEM.
Building your platform as an author is about building relationships. It is not about collecting baseball cards, but about meeting, networking with, and getting to know real people. You want them to know, like, and trust you. If you wait until you need them to reach out, then you're just another stranger asking for a favor.
TAILOR YOUR PITCH.
When you pitch to the media, tailor your pitch to their needs and their interests. Don’t send blind, random mass emails. They'll be ignored or deleted. When you pitch your topic or story angle or interview idea, send a specific message to a specific person. Explain how your specific topic will work in that specific outlet to engage that specific audience.
THINK ABOUT VISUALS.
For some media, an idea for a feature or a segment becomes more attractive if there's something to see. Can you demonstrate a craft or activity on camera? Is there a photo opportunity with an audience? A story idea that includes an excuse to send somebody with a camera will open more doors.
BUILD YOUR PORTFOLIO.
Media attention brings more media attention. Don't think of each media appearance as a single, unrelated event—be sure to put something on your website to show it happened. If it’s a website or blog, include a link or post a screen capture. If it’s a print publication, scan the item and post the image on your website. Embed audio files or video files.
One of the best ways to get started with publicity is to start locally. But you don't want to just "be" local, think about doing something local—such as a workshop at a local library, a talk at a local school, or a talk at a local business or charity.
And that kind of story is “local” anywhere! Ready to pitch yourself to media in the next state? If your author event takes place at a school, library, venue, or business in their coverage area, that’s still a “local” story.
Don't think that publicity is only valuable if it's big. A broad, general audience is barely listening. If you're on a morning show, all the people in that audience are busy—they’re fixing breakfast, getting ready for work, getting their kids ready for school, or looking for their keys. That show is just something playing in the background. But a small, targeted audience interested in your category will be engaged—and more likely to follow up and look for you online.
TREAT INFLUENCERS LIKE PEOPLE.
When you make a pitch to somebody in the media, don't be impersonal. Reaching out to a specific person by name. Avoid anything that makes it sound like a cookie cutter message. Respect them as professionals. Don’t make insults or offer "helpful advice"—that will not endear you to them.
FREE PRESS KIT TEMPLATES
Ready to make an author media kit? I'd love to give you a free set of author media kit templates. The set includes simple guides to create your author bio(s), book one-sheet, book announcement, and more. Click here to find out how you can receive your free templates...