Create Your Media Outreach Plan

As part of the media training process I use with clients, an important step is mapping out or refining a media outreach plan. The reason is simple: if you don’t have a plan based on solid strategy, you will waste time and money to get on TV and radio programs or into print publications that may not result in sales for you. When you have a book or service to sell, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that getting into the media in and of itself, is not the actual goal. It’s fun, and it’s good for visibility, but it’s just a MEANS to the goal, which is reaching your ideal client and moving them to take action with you. It’s a fine point and one that, if ignored, can result in wasted effort. And who has time for that?

Another key point to keep in mind regarding reaching out to media—great coverage and resultant client action is key in building your platform. Without a platform (committed fans who are hungry for what you have to offer) you have no clients, you get no book deals, you are just indulging a hobby, not running a business. So it’s definitely worth the effort to get this right.

Here are five main points to get you going in the right direction when planning how to approach media with your message.

  1. Go back to basics, waaaay back, and get crystal clear on your target audience. Who is it that you most want to reach who will have the strongest need for what you have? If you answer “everyone” you will get NO one. So if you haven’t already, do some heavy lifting on this and really nail down what group or groups you want to reach with your message. Be specific. Until you are clear on this you cannot effectively interest the media, because you will not know who to pitch.
  2. Identify the best shows to appear on, based on how well their audiences match the ideal clients that you identified in Step 1. This step requires research and effort to finely determine who the show reaches and you can often find this out on their website and thinking it through. If your target is teenaged boys, do you think a morning talk show makes sense? A solid way to find out what shows will work best is to survey current clients and ask them what they watch, read and listen to in the media. Ask and you shall receive.
  3. Take a comprehensive approach. Don’t limit your efforts to TV, but when considering TV think about local, regional and national shows on both broadcast and cable. Again, keeping your target audience in mind, also look at radio shows, both terrestrial (on your radio dial) and internet radio, as well as print (magazines, newspapers) and even online blogs and magazines. Don’t leave any stone unturned, as long as that’s where you can find your peeps. Don’t pursue a show just because it’s cool or has big audience numbers. Do it because your people are there. A good plan includes a look at all of these media outlets, but again, only pursue programs that your ideal client would typically watch, read or listen to.
  4. Consider out-of-the-box opportunities to get in front of media. For example, work with a broadcast video production company that produces co-op Satellite Media Tours (SMTs). These specialized companies hire spokespeople to present 3-5 products around a central theme, and the company pitches the story to TV morning shows, who can choose to use the material free of charge. If they like the idea, the story then appears as a 2-4 minute news segment on local TV stations around the U.S.
    • An example of a co-op SMT would be “Memorial Day BBQ Boosters” If you just authored a book about” Hip, Hot, Healthy Hamburger Recipes,” you’d make a great host. The production company would get various sponsors to pay them a fee, such as a company that makes ketchup, one that makes cheese slices, and one that sells paper plates. Then you would speak about each product with a mention about your book and that would be broadcast from their production studio to each station via satellite. Typically there is a stipend for your time, but the value is that you are seen as an expert on your topic and you get the message out about your book.
  5. Consider working with a publicist. A publicist is trained to pitch media and they have media contacts and effective methods to get media interest and get you booked on TV and radio shows or into hot magazines and newspapers. Of course there are some who are more skilled and some are less so, but a great publicist is truly worth their weight in gold and a wise investment while building your media presence.

There are many steps to consider when preparing yourself to be a media superstar but before you get into the nuts and bolts of planning out what you will say and how you will say it, it’s vitally important to decide who you will say it to!

If you are already doing TV and radio, how do you determine what shows you’d like to appear on? Share your useful tips in a comment here—we love to hear from you!