When it comes to publicity and marketing for your book, there are a lot of strategies that can work for building visibility and sales. While you are planning your marketing strategy, don’t overlook radio.
Podcasts are getting a lot of attention right now and that’s a good thing, but don’t overlook the power of radio. Yes, people may say that radio is dead, but they said that when television came along too, and both are still doing just fine, thank you. Podcasts will keep growing as more and more people get used to finding them and downloading or streaming them, but at this point in time total podcast listenership is still far below the listenership of radio.
According to Pew Research, the audience for terrestrial radio remains steady and high: 90% of Americans ages 12 and older listen to terrestrial radio in a week, according to Nielsen Media Research data published by the Radio Advertising Bureau, a figure that has changed little since 2009. On the other hand, of the 327.2 million Americans, 67 million of them listen to 1 podcast per month. That’s about 20.47% and only one every 30 days.
Podcasting is growing while radio listenership remains steady at a higher listenership. Therefore, radio is still a solid strategy to consider when it comes to publicity for your book. It’s not longer a matter of a show airing once and then it’s off into the ethers: many radio shows take those interviews and convert them into podcasts, meaning they have a long tail and can be listened to on demand.
One caveat: An argument can be made that a radio show recording is NOT a podcast. Technically it is: it’s a delayed audio recording that can be listened to “on demand.” However, with the exception of NPR, podcasts are more personal than radio because most people listen with their ear buds in, which requires a softer approach than listening to something blaring on the car radio or from a box 20 feet away. But I digress…
Radio Tour: Take your book to the air waves
One way to dive into a targeted radio strategy is to create a Radio Tour or a Satellite Media Tour with a publicist or a company that specializes in them. A radio tour allows you to connect with broadcast audiences around the country and to quickly educate and them about your book and expertise.
Most tours are created to react to breaking news or to respond to something happening in our culture — such as the obesity epidemic, or the gig economy — while you, the expert, share relevant tips and information contained in your book for how to deal with the situation. A radio tour has the unique ability to target listeners on both a hyper-local level and the larger national scale.
What to know BEFORE the radio tour
Before you hit the airwaves, there are certain things to keep in mind to ensure a successful radio tour:
- The format: A radio tour is a series of 15 to 20 back-to-back interviews that take place on one day, often during the morning hours, within a three-to-four hour time span. Radio stations range in genres from NewsTalk to public radio, and morning drive time programs to public service shows, each with their own style that you want to be mindful of. Unless otherwise indicated, the interviews booked will be about five to ten minutes long with one reporter or host.
- Live vs. Taped: There are three types of interviews you’ll encounter during a radio media tour—live, live-to-tape, or taped. Live interviews are just that: live over the air and streamed in real-time. It’s possible the host will bring callers on the air to ask you direct questions. If the interview is live-to-tape, it means it will be conducted as if it is a live interview and played back in its entirety at a later time. If an interview is taped, then the reporter will be looking for soundbites that they will package for a story to be aired at a later point.
- Use a landline or VOIP: Save the pushback. For just about everything in life using a cell phone is fine, but not here. This is radio which means crisp, clear audio is a must (for podcasting, too). The sound quality of a landline/VOIP is better and more reliable than any other alternatives, including cell phones. Do you want your interview to air? Do you want the host NOT to say, “Thanks for joining us,” only one minute into your interview because the sound was bad? And please, don’t ever even thinking about using a speakerphone, and you’re tempting fate with a headset as well, although with the latter, test it prior to the radio tour or any interview. If you don’t have a landline or VOIP, get one. Another alternative is to go to a friend’s house or an office with a landline that you can use for the course of the radio tour. You can have one installed for a short time while you do a radio tour. It’s worth it.
What to know DURING the radio media tour
When the microphone is on and the interviews are in progress, here are some pointers for you to follow:
- You’re the expert: The interviewer is interested in hearing what you have to say, so say it with confidence.
- Localize the story: If it’s a local station, do your best to find a local angle to localize the story. This shows you know how to customize the story to the audience and it will be appreciated by not only the producer and host, but the listeners as well.
- Drink water: A Radio Media Tour can be long, so keeping hydrated is key to sounding fresh and coming through loud and clear during the interview. Having water nearby will help you to maintain your energy level while staying hydrated.
- Smile, stand-up, use your hands: A disengaged author means a disengaged listening audience. To help convey authenticity and energy over the air, stand-up and smile while speaking. Even if this if the 15th interview that morning, you must come across fresh, enthusiastic, and engaged. And even though the radio listening audience can’t see you, it’s easy to sense your mood.
- Avoid mentioning the host’s name if it’s a recorded interview: If it’s a recorded interview, chances are they are going to package it up to play as a produced story. They’re going to be looking for soundbites in your conversation, so mentioning the host’s name will make it harder to edit.
- Use old-school 3 x 5 cards: Here’s a little tip that will save you a lot of angst. Write down a sentence regarding each of your key messages and stories you want to tell. Have all of them face up, and as you go through each interview, turn them over one by one as you use them so you never forget where you are in your messaging. Believe me, after the 4th or 5th interview you’re going to wonder, “Have I told this story yet? I can’t remember.” Save yourself and use this tip.
- Don’t hang up! While participating in a radio tour, a conference service will be used to connect to each radio station. You and your producer will continue to stay on the line throughout the entire radio tour. s The conference operator will disconnect from the stations following each interview and then will announce the next station on the schedule to begin the next interview.
What to know AFTER the radio media tour
When the last interview ends and the tour is over, here is what the media-savvy pro should do:
- Ask for the final list: It’s not enough to have the list of all the stations you were scheduled to talk with. Ask your publicist or the company that arranged the tour to send you a list of all the interviews that actually made it to air. Not all of them will do this, although they don’t tell you that. We’re talking about the live-to-tape and the taped interviews here. The live interviews obviously aired, although, see if you can find out which ones saved to podcast and if you can have a link.
- Listen to the interviews: Ask for air checks of all the interviews so you can listen back to them. In addition to noting which things you did well, also listen for anything to improve, such as bad habits that need to be broken (too many ums, or “you knows” or whatever). These recordings can be used for further media training should that be necessary.
Conducting 15 or 20 interviews in a row during a radio tour with stations all across the country can be quite the undertaking. Following the tips above in addition to getting media training if you need it will have you primed and ready for it. Good luck!
To your success!
P.S. The time to get media training is before you do your interviews, and that’s one of the ways I can help you! From one-on-one media training to full publicity services, contact me, or jump right in and take my 3-hour Deep-dive session to become media-ready.