Step #1: Networking face-to-faceWhen it comes down to it, it’s who you know. Affiliate marketer Zac Johnson flew to New York City to do an interview at the ABC Studios because of a relationship he started with Tory Johnson.
Zac met Tory at a Blog World Expo and was able to spend some quality time with her at that conference. Zac got his foot in the door because he set aside the time and money to network face-to-face with influencers.
That gamble paid off when he got that call to do the interview with Tory. It wasn’t just a phone interview either, and it wasn’t just to get a few quotes from him. He got the full treatment with the experience—make up, coaching from the producer and five minutes in front of a national audience.
Never underestimate the value of networking with people in person. You don’t always have to drop a couple of thousand and travel across the country to meet the right people. You could run into journalists at events like these:
- Local Tweet-up.
- Local Chamber of Commerce.
Step #2: Seek out radio and podcast interviewsThe next step to becoming the person people want to interview is to hunt down the opportunities. Search for radio hosts or podcasters who need interviews by experts.
- Search for “radio + your subject matter” and “podcast + your subject matter” on Google.
- Search through the iTunes podcast library.
- Search through podcast directories like PodcastAlley.com or Podbean.com.
Make the pitch specific to them and their show, highlighting why you being on the show will benefit them…not you. Your goal is to educate or entertain their audiences, not sell your products or services.
If you can, offer a valuable piece of information in your pitch. This could include original research or an experience you had that would be useful to your prospective listeners.
Here’s one final tip: sign up for radioguestlist.com. This free service will send you an email every day with a list of interview opportunities from podcast, online TV shows, radio, satellite and TV producers who are looking for experts in a particular subject matter.
Step #3: Connect with the MediaYour next step is to reach out to journalists. Google is one way to search for journalists, but I’ve found the best way to do this is simply to pay attention to the bylines of stories.
Here’s what it looks like in TechCrunch:
And here is how it appears in Wired:
Click the name link, and you’ll see all of the author’s articles for the magazine. Click the email icon, and you can actually email the journalist.
Keep in mind, if you decide to email the journalist, it is very important you have something useful to share with him or her. You tell him or her that you are a resource and why the journalist should use you as a resource. Or you pitch an article idea to that person.
Email is not the time to send a “hello.” It will likely get buried or deleted. If you want to connect and get to know the journalist, follow him or her on the social web.
But let’s say you have something useful to offer the journalist. Here’s how to craft a persuasive email:
- Immediately state your point – “I wanted to offer my services to you as an expert in this subject matter.”
- Explain why they should trust you as a good source – “for the last 12 years, I’ve done such and such with this prestigious organization.”
- Include proof – share a fact or statistic that would intrigue the journalist. If you’ve noticed that they’ve been writing about a specific topic and you have something to add to their ideas, share it.
- Share a story – make it quick, no more than three or four sentences, but tell him or her an anecdote that might appeal to his or her audience.
- Link to supporting proof – never attach a document to the email. Instead, if you have a picture or data that can be shared online, include a link.
Step #4: Subscribe to Help a Reporter Out (HARO)A great way to get interviewed by big media publications is to subscribe to Help a Reporter Out. This free source was started by Peter Shankman about two years ago as a Facebook group. It blew up and now has over 100,000 subscribers with 50,000 reporters using the service.
Nearly 30,000 members of the media have quoted HARO sources…including The New York Times, ABC News and The Huffington Post.
- Joe Cockrell pitched a story, and The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes, Good Morning America, CNN, FBN, and dozens of TV stations across the country – even Inside Edition – did a segment. The story was the “most watched” clip on CNN.com that week.
- At Cold Sweep solutions, Randall Heath pitched an idea and got an hour-long phone interview with a Wall Street Journal reporter who later ran the story.
- David Lewis of Operations Inc said that his firm has been tapped as subject matter experts by The NY Times, Reuters and MSNBC. It also gave them the opportunity to appear locally on several radio news sources.
If you find something you can help with, you then email the reporter. Use the template I shared above, and please do not spam the reporter or suggest a different topic. These reporters are desperate for sources for that particular story, so don’t stray from it.
Step #5: Follow trendsAnother way I’ve found that helps journalists is to follow trends and then alert them as soon as possible. Reporters need extra eyes and ears to stay on top of stories, so they appreciate your tips.
Keep in mind, it needs to be useful and relevant to their field of interest. This means you need to train yourself to know what this journalist needs. Follow them on social media, share their content and ask them questions. The more you can develop a relationship with a reporter, the better your chances are of succeeding when it comes to pitching them an idea.
But how do you stay on top of the trends?
- Use broad trending tools – these include Google Trends and Yahoo’s Buzz Log.
- Use niche trending tools – these include Twitter Stats and Trends Map (they allow you to localize the trends, which can be handy if you are hoping to help out a local journalist).
- Listen to people – whether it’s your clients, friends, strangers or family, listen to what they say and the needs they have. Sometimes you may be able to make a connection between that and something a reporter said.
- Read lots of articles – follow as many blogs as possible and read as many magazines as possible to stay on top of trends.
Step #6: Create something remarkableFinally, you can become that person people want to interview by creating something great. Seth Godin put himself on the map with his Permission Marketing book. Robert Scoble did it with his blog. And countless people have become famous through their YouTube videos.
Don’t forget that creating something remarkable takes time. Take the example of Christina Perri and Barrett Yerestian. Perri was a singer/songwriter who was serving coffee when she and Barrett started working together. For four years she’d been trying to make a name for herself on YouTube but was struggling. Her time was about to come.
The two wrote and produced a rough version of a song Christina had been working on. She shared that version with a friend who worked for the show So You Think You Can Dance. The friend liked the song but didn’t think it was ready. She encouraged the two to refine.
They did and called it “Jar of Hearts.” They took it back to her friend at So You Think You Can Dance. This time the friend loved it and played it on the show.
That’s when they became famous overnight.
On that night, the song became one of the best songs on iTunes and Amazon, and Perri’s name became the highest searched term on Google. She eventually ended up on CBS Early and has since performed live. She’s flooded with requests, and major labels are courting her.
ConclusionOnce you get that initial interview and then promote it across the web, other offers will eventually come in. That was true for some of the success stories behind HARO, and I know from experience that when I speak at a conference, I get offers for more interviews.
If you think about it, those two minutes on So You Think You Can Dance changed Christina’s life, but behind those two minutes are years of hard work. Both musicians worked day jobs and had other commitments but found the time to focus and perfect their passion.
So, the moral of this story is this: Are you prepared?