How to Be a Much Sought-After Media Guest
When a Christian author masters the techniques of being a memorable guest who adds value to the Host’s program, he or she will be a much sought-after media guest. Follow these principles and watch your book marketing calendar fill with invitations from Hosts seeking to interview you.
- Know Your Target Audience and Where to Find Them
You can’t hope to get your message or product widely received without properly knowing who wants or needs what you have to offer. First, identify what solution your service or product delivers. Does your product/service help people solve a problem, achieve a goal, or meet a need? You must provide at least one of the three to have a viable product/service. Next, learn where people who need or want what you offer to congregate. Use the internet to search for online groups, clubs, or organizations where your target audience gathers. Then, identify what Hosts have shows with the greatest prospect of reaching your target audience.
- Know the Goals the Host Has for their Show
Just as reading several magazine issues to know the purpose, content, and target audience before we submit an article we hope they will publish, so we must know the same about the show we want to be interviewed on. Your message and target audience must be a match for the show and Host. Never send inquiries to a Host/Producer without first confirming your topic will add value consistent with their show’s purpose, content, and target audience.
By knowing the Host’s goals for their show, you will be able to present yourself as an extension of the Host by helping them meet their objective. As a Christian author your focus should not be on selling your product or service but instead on how you can bring beneficial content and add value to the Host’s show. Producers have the task of finding guests who can help achieve the objective for the Host’s show, which is always to meet the needs of the audience. Make a point of connecting with the Producer and get on a first name basis whenever possible. Present yourself as amenable and gracious as possible, clearly wanting to help the Host shine.
- Know the Length and Balance of the Interview
You should ask the Producer/Host how much time they plan for the interview. They may say it’s a 26-minute interview. But are there commercial breaks? If so, how many, and what’s their run time? So, graciously ask questions to know how much on-air time you’re likely to be given. Use caution here not to come off offensive or demanding.
Also, listen/watch the show in advance to know the pace, style, format, and approximate percentage of the time the Host typically allows a guest to talk. It’s essential you have an idea of about how much time you will talk so you make certain to get all the more important statements made. Have two versions of the important points you want to make. One that works for a leisurely format, and one that is more bullet points and be prepared to draw on both formats in the same session. Things happen that can interfere with your actual interview time, and you don’t want to leave out anything important.
Be aware of any sponsors or advertisers so you do not mention or promote a competing product or service.
- Provide Host/Producer Sample Product
Send the Host/Producer samples of your product or offer to let them experience the service you provide. Use caution not to violate any FCC regulations concerning payola or plugola. Payola is the practice of paying someone to use their influence or position to promote a particular product or interest. It is a sensitive and subjective matter that many podcasters are unaware of. Basically, a Host should not receive sample products/services in excess of a $25.00 value. Also, discounts a guest/advertiser offers the Host must be consistent with what they provide all other customers.
Plugola is the practice of a Host endorsing a product or service on radio or television for personal gain, without the consent of the network or stations or without informing the audience about the use of the proceeds.
I recommend avoiding any activity that can impair objectivity and integrity, such as guests paying to be interviewed or paying to get your books reviewed. There are other legal concerns beneficial for guests being interviewed to know, as well, perhaps available in a future article.
- Develop Trust with Host/Producer and Audience
In today’s market relationship, trust is vital to book marketing and sales. You want to demonstrate you are a credible expert in your field/topic who is worthy of trust. Be highly respectful of the Host and let them lead. However, keep an eye on the clock.
Refrain from stating the name of your book, providing your contact information, or saying “in my book I write . . .” This comes off as over-selling and works against you. You must earn the trust of the audience through marketing (promoting) before you seek to sell (transact) the product. Discuss the topic as the expert you are and leave the time for selling up to the Host. A good Host will always ask you where their audience can buy your book. That’s the time to offer sale details. CIPA’s article about overcoming the five obstacles to sell your books is helpful here.
- Be Overly Prepared and Use Soundbites
Don’t expect the Host will stick to any advance questions or talking points you provide. If you’re being interviewed about your Christian book, read it again before the interview. The Host will often receive a complimentary copy of your book and can refer to a particular section in the book that impressed them. If you wrote your book a year or two before you could easily not recall that part which adversely impacts your credibility for not being able to talk on that point.
Be aware of current events that tie into the topic for your interview that you can mention. Also, identify in advance one to three key points/phrases (depending on the length of the interview) you can use that will be memorable soundbites. This will help the audience connect with you and provides the Producer with compelling audio to promote the show.
Sound bites are phrases that are memorable and provide value. These will also become original quotes attributed to you that you can use elsewhere. One of mine that is found several places online is: “Faith is like automobile insurance. It has to be intact before there is a crisis.”
Besides thoroughly knowing your topic, preparation should include a good night’s sleep, ample quiet time before the interview versus being rushed, comfortable clothing, anything that makes you feel confident that is suitable for the audio/visual medium. Unobtrusively manipulating a paperclip in your hand to calm nerves, is one noiseless example of a comfort trick. And smile. Even if it’s audio only, a smile on your face translates in your speech.
- Confirm All Details In Advance (Technology, Calendar, Giveaways, and Promotions)
When scheduling your interview be sure to know how it will be produced. Will you be in studio, online, or over a phone? Online and phone interviews need to have trustworthy connections for audio and visual as needed. Test your equipment in advance to make sure it is properly operating and you are comfortable using the technology.
If the interview is on camera, make sure you know the colors of the set background and dress in a way to compliment. No stripes or fine print on camera. If a green screen is to be used, no shade of green can be worn as the projected background appears on all green. Make sure not to wear any jewelry or adorned apparel that will interfere with the audio. Ladies should make sure their hair is not touching the microphone as that can produce interference.
Confirm the date and time and most importantly the respective time zones. Many Hosts have been inadvertently stood up for lack of clarifying the time zones involved.
When scheduling your interview and getting to know the Host/Producer and the show, ask if they would like you to offer their audience one or more free copies of your Christian book. Then learn how they want to offer and fulfill the giveaway. Does the Host/Producer want to have a physical copy of the book they will mail to the recipient, or do they want you to send the book? Do they prefer an electronic version be emailed to the recipient? Who will be allowed to have the recipient’s contact information? Getting recipients’ contact detail is a great way to build your database/subscriber list. Stating limitations might be prudent such as not available to ship outside the continental U.S. or suitable for children up to age eight, etc.
It’s always a good idea to make product available through a website with a unique promo code. This allows you to track where the buyers learned of your book. For example, if you are interviewed on a show called “Somewhere in Paradise” you can create a promo code within your web store and ask the audience to use PARADISE upon check out to get a 15% discount.
Giveaways and contests are subject to the terms of the FCC. While compliance technically falls on the Host/Producer it’s a good idea for you to be familiar with the requirements when discussing any giveaways and promotions.
Also, offer to use your social media to promote the interview and provide links to the program once it’s available online. Certainly, the Host/Producer will promote on their platforms, but you doing so as well benefits you both. Make sure to get their social media addresses so you can tag them allowing them to see you are actually promoting the show.
Ask if you will be provided a CD/DVD or other recording. Some will give you a copy or link you can use freely. Others will want to give you a limited license, and some may want to charge you for each copy, which you can then sell as additional product for a profit. Verify any use license details that may be required from you for the Host or from the Host for you to use the show content.
Confirm all details for each element of your interview and participation.
- Follow Up with a Thank You Note and More
Expressing your appreciation with a hand written note in these days of electronic communications will go a long way to make you memorable to the Producer and Host. Letting them know you can recommend other authors or potential guests is also a great way to keep in good standing. Establishing relationship allows you to contact them when a current event or newsworthy matter consistent with your topic arises. You can let them know you’re available to address it. Establishing relationship with the Host and Producer and demonstrating your ability to add value will help you get invited back, especially when your next Christian book or product is available.
About the Author
Pamela Christian is an author and Host of traditional radio in two major markets and an international podcast and internet television Host/Producer. Faith to Live By is the name of her multi-award-winning book series and her popular podcast. Pam is available to coach Hosts and guests as well as authors specific to book production and marketing. Learn more at www.PamelaChristianMinistries.com