by Jackie Lapin, founder of Conscious Media Relations
The nice thing about radio—as opposed to TV and print—is that producers and hosts are much less restrictive in selecting their interview subjects. The guest may promote a traditionally or self-published book (no e-books that aren’t available via print-on-demand), and it doesn’t have to be newly launched. All the show cares about is if the listener can benefit from the content.
It’s imperative when promoting your book at launch—or after—that you have a compelling pitch letter that conveys the benefits of your book to the reader. This goes for any nonfiction book (memoir, self-help, personal growth, health, history, etc.) as well as fiction, if you can make it topical.
Getting one radio host to book you may be luck. Getting dozens or even hundreds of radio shows means you must have a pitch letter and subject that are irresistible.
Prospective radio-show guests need to know the tips to put pizzazz in their pitch and get radio hosts so excited that they demand them.
Before you tackle self-booking on radio, you should have basic knowledge of what a show host or producer is looking for and how to write a letter than excites them. We’ve perfected this art for our clients and are willing to share the inside scoop on making yourself appealing to the radio show.
Here are guidelines to help:
Make it a Memorable Pitch. It’s imperative to get the attention of the host or producer immediately. The power of the lead paragraph cannot be underestimated. In an email world, you have less than 30 seconds to shock, excite, intrigue, or create a great reason to read on.
Pose a question, make a bold statement, create an unexpected juxtaposition, state a problem you can solve, make a revelatory declaration, be topical and key the interview to a newsworthy item or an upcoming holiday, state something only you can say, or tweak and tease the host.
Essentials to Make It Compelling. There are key elements to make yourself irresistible to a host. Establish that there is a problem that engages the audience and for which you have the solution. Advise the host how your interview will benefit the listeners. Establish what you can say that they’ve never heard before. Your voice must be distinct. Succinctly tell your own powerful story of growth and transformation, to position yourself as an expert who can lead the listener in a similar transformation.
Tell the host how your message can illuminate, motivate, inspire, and make the listener feel. Dare to be different, but not so different that it is off-putting, especially to mainstream media.
Take Advantage of Holiday-Themed Pitches. Look for holiday tie-ins, but maintain focus on the benefits to the listener. Work far in advance since many shows book their holiday segments as much as a month early.
Mold the Message to Specific Audience. Depending on genre, topic, and demographics, shows are looking for guests that fit a specific profile. Seldom can one letter work for all. You’ll need to tweak the message for each media segment, while not diluting the appeal. Know the host and the show you are soliciting and tailor the pitch letter to the host, subject, and audience.
Establish Your Credentials. Quickly and simply present yourself as an expert. Say you are the author of “name of book,” to establish credibility. Add short additional information on your background. Don’t include your entire curriculum vitae. Use such descriptors as “award-winning” and “best-selling” to enhance your credibility.
Testimonial Quotes. A key element that will add to your credibility is providing testimonials by recognizable and respected figures like NY Times best-selling authors, media figures, celebrities, or leaders in a particular field. Keep them short and only use names the media would respect. We often put these in a text box after the signature on the pitch letter so they stand out. Here’s a sampling of testimonials we use in promotion.
Create a Great Interview Packet. A radio-interview packet is different from a general media kit. It has elements directed specifically to make it easy for the host to prepare for the interview. Your interview packet should include:
- A press release on your product or book
- Testimonials, if you have them
- Your biography, along with an attractive photo of you
- An on-air introduction (shorter than a full bio)
- Twenty questions (because many shows run a full hour and you need to have enough questions)
- A list of things you want to promote (book, website, free opt-in, coaching program, upcoming teleseminar, for example) on the final page
Test Your Pitch. Before sending it everywhere, test it on a few shows. See if it’s effective. Tweak it or try a different approach until you find one that resonates with hosts and producers.
Perfect the Follow-Up Call. Now that you’ve sent the email, fax, or letter, it’s time to make the follow-up call. Don’t blow it here! After all, if you’re dull and verbose on the query call, why would they book you for a full interview? Get to the point, don’t rattle on, and keep it to a 30-second sound bite. Don’t over-introduce yourself. Use a description like, “I am the bestselling author of….” Sound exciting, not excited. Be professional, not monotone. Practice your pitch in advance to make sure you have it just right and can get it out without tripping over yourself. Leave your number twice—once at the start and once at the end of the call.
Where to Secure Shows? The best places to look for shows are all news/talk stations. The stations may have local shows along with nationally syndicated shows, local public broadcasting stations, or subject-specific radio networks such as BBS, which covers the metaphysical landscape, or Progressive Radio Network, which covers mostly health. These are the low-hanging fruit.
Don’t Overlook Internet Radio. Take advantage of Internet radio in a way you can’t with mainstream. Internet radio-show hosts may not have as big an audience, but they have a targeted audience and will let you enthusiastically sell your product or service. You’ll get more plugs over an extended amount of time. Internet radio hosts tend to be better educated and more focused on the subject matter. They often post the interview as a podcast, where it will get more listeners afterward and they can provide you the podcast for your website. Many times you can arrange other business ventures with them to market your products. Some will post your book or product on their site so that listeners can immediately click through to your website or to Amazon.com. Most important, Internet radio hosts are accustomed to letting you drive listeners to your website for newsletter sign-ups, free e-books, and other incentives to get people to opt in. Here’s an amazing fact: they might actually read the book you send them before the interview!
Keep in mind, these shows book weeks or months in advance, so don’t wait until the last minute to reach out if you have a specific time frame.
If Coordinating this is Too Much on Top of Your Existing Work Load, Hire a Pro. Once you realize the amount of work it takes to create appeal and research the thousands of radio shows that are potential portals for your message, you may find it easier to retain an agency that has a special radio media tour, an exclusive turnkey agency package that strategically positions the spokesperson for the marketplace and connects with radio shows to arrange interview bookings. We have three versions tailored to the author’s available budget and time constraints.
Jackie Lapin’s Conscious Media Relations creates Radio Media Tours especially for authors, speakers, and coaches by offering them an exclusive list of more than 3000 radio hosts who seek interviews with leaders in personal development, health, spirituality, prosperity, and conscious living—anything that transforms humanity or the planet. For more information go to www.ConsciousMediaRelations.com or call 818 707-1473.