When it comes to book publicity and marketing, asking the right questions makes it much easier.
If you have a book and you want more visibility, then gaining exposure through the power of media is a fantastic way to do it. This post isn’t about how to land an interview via positioning, pitching and approach; those have been covered before and we’ll talk about them again. This post is about how to track your outreach and finalize all the details without driving yourself crazy, because let me tell you: it can get out of hand, and quickly too. There is an art to doing this with ease and organization.
Here’s the situation: You have just booked an interview with NPR or another top tier show to talk about your book. Yay you! That is very exciting.
Ask these questions to come across as a pro and to get flawless bookings:
What is the date and time of the interview?
This one is pretty obvious and most likely you determined this when you booked the interview.
Where will the interview be conducted? What technology will be used?
Is it in-studio, over the phone, Skype or other online platform?
What time should you arrive?
Believe it or not, this question is different from the one above. Sometimes with live interviews you might start at 8 minutes past the hour, but you want to call during the news at 3 minutes past the hour. Other times they want you to call at the exactly the appointed hour. Find out what the producer or host prefers.
Is it going to be live or recorded?
If recorded, it will most likely be a podcast, but not always, so be sure and ask. When will it air or go live?
How long with the interview be?
The length of time gives you a great deal of information. If it is a 10-minute interview your answers will be different than if it is a 30- or 60-minute interview. The shorter interview requires more succinct answers, which means making good use of time and using sound bites to get all your key messages across. With longer interviews sound bites are still important, but you’ll have more time to set them up and tell stories to demonstrate each point you’re making.
What is your emergency backup information?
Be sure to ask for backup information just in case there is an issue at show time. It’s important to give them yours as well. Problems can come in many forms, such as when technology stops working, your laptop decides to run updates just before you’re going on, your child has an emergency and you must take him or her to the doctor right now! Crunch time is not the time to figure out how to reach the host or producer.
What other information do they need from you?
They may want a review copy of your book. You can send a digital version, but offer to snail mail it if there’s time. Producers often get tired of looking at a screen all day and welcome a hard copy. Others don’t want to see it at all. They will require something, however, so send them your press kit, which should include a book release or summary of your book and its benefits to the reader, your bio, and a list of interview questions. They won’t always use the questions, but it’s a good way to seed the interview in the way you want it to go. A good headshot of you and the book cover will also likely be needed. Be sure you have all these things together before you even start booking because it will make things much easier for you. (Here’s an earlier blog post with more tips on putting together your media kit.)
What angle will they use during the interview?
What strikes them as the most important piece for their audience? This will help guide you as to how you want to frame your key messages. You should already know who their audience is because you pitched the show, but it is a sign of being thorough Pro to ask if there’s anything else about their audience that would be good for you to know or if there’s a particular angle they would like to pursue.
When and where will the interview be posted/published/aired?
Finding out when and where the interview will be available while you’re setting up the interview is best because you still have their full attention. Will they email you a link, or will you have to search for it? Asking this after the interview is okay if you’re still connected. However, once you’re off the platform with them, it’s too late and getting answers is harder. Not always, but for some they will have already moved on to the next interview guests. The show must go on, after all.
And finally: Always reconfirm a day or two before the interview
Make sure you’re still on and that they have all the information they need. Double check the emergency backup information.
Notes from the media side:
In addition to doing publicity and media training, I have been the producer for a major podcast, the Something You Should Know Show, for almost two years now and it’s given me a wonderful view of all sides of PR and media. Here are a few tips from the producer/host side:
Pro Tip #1:
When pitching a media outlet, be sure to include a link to an interview you’ve already done or a YouTube video of you presenting or speaking. We need to see and hear that you have energy, you can speak in sound bites, and that you know how to deliver in an interview. If you don’t, the producer has to go off searching for it ,and if they’re in a hurry, they probably won’t bother and will just go on to someone else. So be sure and be proactive and provide this for them. You’d be amazed at how many authors don’t think to do this, so you are ahead of the pack if you do this very simple, helpful thing.
Pro Tip #2:
If you have an email thread going back and forth with a media person, put your name or name of the book in your latest response so that after a few days of no communication they don’t have to scroll down the entire note to figure out who you are and what you’re talking about. Even better if it’s in the subject line.
Pro Tip #3:
Some bloggers and podcasters want to work out the entire interview before it ever takes place. My take on this is they don’t have much experience with how an interview flows in real time, so they want to make sure it’s all decided in advance. This used to be called a pre-interview and is still done with many of the top tier guys. However, with the latter it’s a test to see if you’re polished enough to do an interview with them, not to work out the show itself. Treat the pre-interview as an audition, because it is, so give them your best stuff.
Pro Tip #4:
Some outlets still let you know when a show goes live and will send a link, although I am finding that happens less and less as time goes by. Google Alerts don’t capture everything by any means, but they are a good first step toward making sure you capture your media interviews.
Here is a blog post from last year with more Pro Tips.
You’re going to run into lots of different scenarios and situations when dealing with the media. Remember to just roll with it. Get the answers to these questions in advance, and you will be much better prepared. You’ll also come across as a pro because you asked the right questions, because you’re a savvy pro after all.
To your success!
P.S. Do you want to be a Media Darling? Just for fun, I’ve got a few tips for you here.