Work Your Way Up to the Top Tier: Part 1

So you want media attention for your book. I get it. I totally do.

I get a lot of questions from people asking what exactly media is these days.  Short answer? Everyone!

So the next question is, what do you want to do and where do you want to be seen? Do you want to be on national television? Do you want to be well-known in your small niche? Do you want to have a huge social media presence, or are you interested in doing podcasts? Or are you just not sure yet and you’re exploring the possibilities? That’s perfectly fine.

Everything depends on the level of exposure, visibility ,and success are you up for. If it’s top-tier, then there is work to be done.

It’s about content

I have lots of people coming to me who want top-tier media exposure, not realizing that the key is to have great content. There are a lot of people competing for the same attention, so you have to have great content.

A perfect example of having great content is Paul Steklenski. Paul is a veteran, a computer engineer, and dad who also happens to have money. He wanted to help animals stuck in shelters where they would surely be euthanized and transport them to other areas where there are no-kill shelters who work to find them homes. Flying Fur Animal Rescue was founded in 2015, and he has had coverage everywhere. People Magazine did a story on him. The Today show covered him. He even had the closing inspirational news story on NBC News with Lester Holt. You can follow him here on Facebook.

Let’s look at how he was able to get so much top-tier publicity.

First, it’s a fabulous story. He’s a pilot and he bought his own planes to fly dogs and cats along the east coast to get them adopted. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s nice looking guy. The visuals go without saying, but we will. But most of all, he had great content: Video and still shots of cute animals looking for homes and aerial shots from the plane capture hearts.

Next, his organization runs as a nonprofit, and that always plays well in the news: someone is giving their own time and energy.

Finally, he’s great at doing interviews, he understands the power of social media, and the list goes on and on. It was a no-brainer that he could be in many of the national media opportunities, even though he only operates on the east coast.

Do you have a story to tell that will impact people beyond just your niche? Do you have visuals? Still shots? Video? Is it compelling?

It’s okay if you don’t, just keep in mind that if you’re going after a particular niche, you most likely aren’t going to get that national coverage. That’s perfectly fine. It’s just helpful if you understand where you’re going and who you’re going after. This will cut down on a lot of the overwhelm that happens when you think you have to do everything and be everywhere.

If you want to aim for top-tier media, you need to first have exposure in the secondary and tertiary tiers before the top tier will consider you. There are some exceptions to this, but it’s probably unrealistic to think you’re one of those who can get top tier without being present in smaller media outlets first. Remember, producers do research.


There is a method and strategy to all of this, but you want to be thinking long term. Search for and connect with people who make sense for you to know so they can help you when the time comes. Having social media influencers talking about you is very helpful, but what if you don’t know any? This is where networking comes in.

When you network, it’s important that you don’t come across as a taker who is oblivious to other people and their needs. Offer to help them first without requesting something in return. You’d be amazed at how seldom this happens, so when you do it, I guarantee you will stand out. The influencer may not even take you up on your offer, but you will be on his or her radar screen as a generous person. After you build this kind of social capital, you can go back later and ask for some help.

I see far too many people break this rule and make it all about themselves and their book and they wonder why they aren’t getting any traction. Think long-term planning. This is not a quick-fix tactic.

You may be very successful in your field and that is wonderful, but it doesn’t immediately transfer to media. They don’t know who you are, so it’s a bit like starting over again. (Those with big egos have a really hard time with this one!)

In this day and age of media, there seems to be a misguided expectation that because we can see everyone else and how well some are doing, that means it’s easy. I guarantee you that isn’t the case. Oh, it isn’t difficult like solving high-level math or coming up with a cure for cancer, but it does mean you have to work at this. It doesn’t just fall in your lap. Those that have been successful have been working at it for a while.

Here are some tips to get you moving in the right direction.

  • Find ways to present your idea/work visually. How can you tell your story in an impactful way?
  • Get social media going. Actually talk to others: don’t just post stuff and disappear, or have your admin post and you never look at it.
  • Find the influencers and get on their radars.
  • Fill the media funnel with small and medium outlets first. They’re easier to get, you can practice, and then you’ll be searchable.
  • Work up to the top tier. They’ll be watching.

It’s possible if you’ve done all of the above, media may come looking for you, which is super fun and the best of all worlds!

Are you ready?

I have to warn you about one thing, though, because I’ve seen it happen more than a few times: You can do all the outreach in the world, hire professionals to do all kinds of things for you, and spend tons of money getting everything just right. But if you haven’t done your own inner work, then you will stop yourself. If you have fears about the kind of visibility you’re reaching for, then you have some work to do. Those inner critical voices can be intense, so it’s important to take care of those so that you’re ready.

The best example of this was when I was working with Geneen Roth. She told me the story of the very first time she was on Oprah, which was probably 25 years ago now. She said the attention was so overwhelming that she went into hiding for about five years. Imagine! She came back and was on Oprah twice with her book Women Food and God a few years back. You can see part of the show here.

I’ve done this work too long and with too many people not to see very clearly that when it comes to media attention, there are external elements that need to be in place, and the internal elements are just as important. If you have critical voices telling you you’re unworthy, then that’s going to sabotage you. That is the first place to start.

To your success!


P.S. Make sure if you’re using social media that you use it in a way that feels real and not fakey. I am getting tons of LinkedIn requests these days from people who just clearly want to sell something. It’s such a shame, but LinkedIn is a powerful tool. If we’re not already connected, let’s connect on LinkedIn!






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