As you’re watching the news, reading articles or seeing guests on the talk show circuit, it was most likely pitched by someone like me or you — unless, of course, the story is hard news.
Hard news events are events that can’t be controlled, e.g., hurricanes, shootings, accidents, etc. Usually they’re the first portion of the newscast. Pretty much everything else is an idea that was pitched, or that the writer or producer came up with himself or herself.
What does this mean?
Here’s an important tip…
Pay attention to what is being featured. Even celebrities go on the talk circuit because they have a book, movie, or some other project to publicize. So, next time you’re watching Jimmy Fallon and a celebrity is introduced, wait for when they talk about his or her current project. You will hear it.
As far as your own publicity goes, the question, “Why you, Why now?” is always being asked. You must be able to answer that in your pitch. You must make your reason for coverage timely and current.
Let’s look at some examples: While watching the morning news shows this week, I saw the following:
Bill O’Reilly was a guest during the first hour of the Today show. If you don’t know who he is, and you probably do, he is a show host with Fox News. He’s published many books including a new one titled, Killing the Rising Sun, a book about World War II with the focus on Japan. It’s available for purchase as of September 16. The hook used to get him on the show was the football player, Colin Kapernick, the player who refused to stand for the national anthem. During the interview Bill even said, “I’m going to personally send a copy of my book to Colin Kapernick and tell him he needs to read every single word of my book to understand why we should stand during the national anthem.”
Now, I tell you this not to voice an opinion on whether Colin’s actions were right or wrong, but to demonstrate how they made Bill’s book timely by tying it into the headlines. It got him on the show. Now, he may have gotten on the show anyway because he’s a pretty well-known host, but this made his appearance so much more obvious and compelling.
Another example: Tim Gunn of Project Runway fame. He wrote an op-ed piece that appeared on September 8th in the Washington Post, which was picked up by NPR, People, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, among others, and it made the morning news shows. I saw him on Today or GMA (can’t remember which one now), criticizing the fashion industry. Interesting to note that this week is Fashion Week in New York when international fashion collections are shown to buyers, the press and the general public. He wrote this piece criticizing the fashion industry for not even noticing your average woman and continuing to make clothes for thin people. He goes on to say that the average dress size in the US is a 12, and designers rarely go that high in their clothes. In addition to writing the piece during Fashion Week, the new season of project runway began on September 15. Very timely. Tim, why you? Why now?
And finally, Bruce Springsteen. The Boss has a new book coming out on September 26 and the other night at his concert in Philadelphia there was a kid with a sign that said, “Can a college kid play ‘No Surrender’ with you?” Bruce saw the sign and brought him up on stage, which gave both of them tons of coverage and publicity. It put Bruce’s name in the headlines, and it just so happens he has a book coming out. People got video of it, it was all over the news this morning. I saw that and thought, “Hmmmm, what does Bruce have coming up. It’s a new book called Born to Run.
There is nothing wrong tying what you do into the headlines, calendar or culture to make it timely. In fact, it shows brilliance. This is how you get media coverage for it.
Remember the all-important question that you must be able to answer, “Why you, Why now?”
For more great tips, check out my Publicity Cheat Sheet. It’s a total freebie.
To your success!