7 Steps To Savvy Sleuthing for Maximum Publicity

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing media maven and celebrity nutrition and fitness expert JJ Virgin, the resident nutritionist on Dr. Phil for several seasons and co-host of TLC’s Freaky Eaters. She shared many of her top tips on how to ace a media interview so that you become a sought-after expert. I’d like to expand on one of her concepts, as it is one I teach my clients and is an often neglected step in the process of garnering media attention and then delivering great content that moves people to action.

Would-be media darlings tend to focus a lot of time and attention on how to attract media attention and on what they would like to say. While these are two vital steps, there is another that needs to happen between them−research. Here are 7 tips to help you better navigate the media landscape.

1. Become a detective and study the programs you are targeting. In a recent conversation I had with best selling author and celebrity book publicist Arielle Ford, she shared that she would like to appear on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, so she carefully studies that show. She watches it frequently and takes note of the types of stories and guests that appear, especially the ones that Ellen seems to enjoy most. Then she works with her publicist on how to frame her media pitches in a way that will have more success fitting Ellen’s interests and show format.

Generally, morning show or news programs prefer stories in a “news you can use” format such as top 5, or even top 3 things, that relate to your story idea. Short lists are popular.

Bonus tip: Think about how you can tie your message into topics the program obviously likes, or into current events they are likely to cover.

2. Always think like a producer while watching a show you hope to be invited on or one that has already scheduled your appearance. Uncover what they would want and need to make a great story and then be sure to provide that.

3. One of the main requirements of you, especially on TV or radio, is an ability to speak in their language, which is the language of sound bites. You can learn more about that in my previous post, How To Speak in Soundbites. The producer will need clean, concise bits of info to edit the story. To avoid the cutting room floor, you must learn to deliver your message this way.

4. Notice the interviewer’s style. What kinds of questions does she ask? Is she thorough or does she ask general questions and expect guests to run with the ball? If so, be ready to move the interview forward yourself. For example, if she is not asking about an important topic that you want to cover, you could say, “You may be wondering about X..well I find the 3 best tips to remember about that are (tip 1), (tip 2) and (tip 3).”

5. If you are going to be on a TV show, carefully study the set beforehand. Coordinate your clothing colors to harmonize with the backdrop, not clash or blend in too much. If you wear a red dress and the program has a red couch, you will completely disappear. This is something you must always research, even if you appear on TV frequently like JJ Virgin. She shared with me that she had to change her wardrobe choice last minute before the taping of her upcoming PBS special once she discovered that her black slacks would clash with the set backdrop. Brown pants were a better choice, and although she prefers black, she wore brown for that program.

6. Determine the overall tone of the show and if it fits your brand and your message. If you run a stately, serious business, a zany “morning zoo” type of program would not be a good fit.

7. Finally, be aware of what is happening in the world, especially if you are appearing live. Always keep up on current events and news of the day and never go on-air without having read a few newspapers and scanned online, social media, radio, and TV for top topics trending that day. If something major is happening, be prepared for questions about it, even if it has nothing to do with your topic, but especially if it can be related back to your area of expertise.

Bonus Tip: Anticipate how you can work in a current event into your messaging. For instance, you may be a nutrition expert set to discuss the importance of a balanced diet and the day of your interview there’s an earthquake that leaves thousands without power for days. Be ready to talk about how to plan meals that don’t require electricity to cook, and what kinds of food and drink people can store for emergency use. Being fast on your feet makes you an invaluable resource for the media and you can learn to do that with some forethought and planning.

Do you have any tips you can share about how you prepare for a media interview? We’d love the hear about it−leave a comment below!

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