Not long ago I had someone who desires to be an influencer come to me for some help regarding his online visibility. As is the case with many of the authors I work with, he is very successful in his business and there is an expectation that that success will translate automatically into other areas, such as media.
It’s not the first time I have run into this. However, the truth is that while the people in your industry may know who you are, if you haven’t done any media interviews, the media won’t know who you are and in their eyes, you may well be a newcomer. Some CEOs have trouble hearing this.
That may be one of the reasons why I have earned the title of “cheerleader and truth-teller.” I’ll cheer you on, but if you’re not ready or if there is some reason your expectations won’t be met immediately, then I will share that with you too. You need to know where you stand truthfully before you can make decisions that will allow you to move forward successfully.
This particular CEO and author wants to branch out and create an even larger following using earned media, and that’s a good idea. However, the difficulty and challenge intensified when he gave me a list of 5 — and only 5 — media outlets where he was willing to be featured. Only 5. These were the top-tier, cream of the crop media outlets, mind you.
That’s a lot of pressure, which is OK. I don’t mind pressure, but when you limit yourself to only five outlets, well, you severely limit your success. Just because you haven’t heard of an outlet doesn’t mean it isn’t absolutely perfect for you. In addition to that, many of the top outlets won’t take a chance on you until they’ve seen you on smaller platforms. Size really does matter, and all sizes are needed.
At one time, your message had to be big and broad and had to appeal to many people at the same time to get covered. However, people are dividing themselves into smaller and smaller groups now, preferring information tailored specifically to them. Yes, they still read The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, but they also indulge in smaller publications that are customized just for them. In other words, if you want to grow your audience, you may need to niche yourself down into these subgroups.
Imagine this: Back in the pre-pandemic days, you might have gone into Starbucks and ordered a cup of coffee, but chances are you did not order a “cup of coffee of the day.” No, you may have ordered a caramel macchiato, extra hot, with two shots of whatever, and don’t forget the extra foam. The point is, we have our own particular wants and needs, and when we look for news, we may want it filtered through a particular lens too, not just what The Washington Post covers.
There is no shame in starting small, and in fact, in many cases that is where you have to start.
But smaller is the wrong word because it implies that it is less than desirable. A better word is “niche” or “micromedia” opportunities.
If you’re starting a new book campaign, or your goal is to become an “influencer,” consider these 6 tips:
Pick the low hanging fruit first
Start with those who will be the most interested in what you have to say. Who is your target market? Are there associations, bloggers, podcasters, and radio hosts who specifically address your topic? Go after them first.
Not only does it build momentum when you land coverage, but it also gives you experience doing interviews. When you’re learning how to deliver your key message with a new book, it’s better to practice on smaller platforms rather than trying for the cream of the crop. All of us get better with practice and experience.
Work your way up
Just as you didn’t start at the top in your career, you most likely won’t start at the top in the media — unless you’ve done something really heinous. I can get you on every outlet by tomorrow morning if that’s the case, but it’s not a good way to go. Remember, those top-tier outlets get to cherry pick who they want to feature. Most of the time they cover authors who have already proven themselves. There are some exceptions, however. I have a friend who has been a columnist for USA Today for years, and she would take a chance on newcomers if they had something truly unique and different to say. She is more the exception than the rule, however.
Items you need
Have audio and video of you doing interviews on your topic on your website, on YouTube, or somewhere online where they are easily found. Send links to them in your pitches. If you haven’t been interviewed by earned media yet, then do some mock interviews and use them. They need to see and hear you before making a decision.
And then think bigger. Write down your biggest wishes and desires. That’s fine. You should have big dreams. Then start where you are, get experience, and work up to the big dreams that you have.
Never be embarrassed to start small
I once had a client on a fairly small radio show that turned into something major when it was heard by a producer at NPR’s Morning Edition. The producer contacted me about booking him on their show and that expanded his reach and visibility, not to mention credibility, extensively. Win Win!
Don’t say no
Be careful of the dreaded, “I think I’m better than that now.” Or, “I think I’ve outgrown that.” Hey, listen, it’s good not to forget your roots. I’ve already said this once, but it’s worth repeating. You never know who is listening to you and where it might lead. Also remember, those who were there on your way up will be there on your way down too. Be nice to people.
You never know what something else will lead to. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hanson understood this. They never, ever said no to doing any kind of interview or opportunity that would allow them to talk about Chicken Soup for the Soul — no matter the size, no matter the time of day or night. They always replied with an enthusiastic “Yes!” and they did it with happy, wide-open hearts. I loved them.
Be proud of what you do. Micromedia, major media, and everything in between. It’s all helpful to you.
To your success!
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