More Americans Listen to Talk Radio Today Than Ever Before

More Americans Listen to Talk Radio Today Than Ever Before

Are You Taking Advantage of This Platform For Your Book Promotion?

In the age of the Internet, 24/7 cable TV news channels, news on your laptop, desktop, PDA and smartphone, I think it’s important to remind folks about the significance of talk radio as it relates to getting publicity for your book. But don’t just take my word for it.

The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism recently reported that 48 million people get their news from talk radio. Surprised? Don’t be. While other traditional media outlets in print and TV were shrinking, the genre of talk radio was growing. Inside Radio Magazine further reported that the number of radio stations that carry talk shows grew in 2010 to 2,056 from 1,370 in 2009.

When you complement this growth of listeners with the demographic survey results from Talkers Magazine’s (the leading trade publication serving the talk media industry in America) 2010 Talk Radio Research Project, and you can see why radio listeners are a perfect audience for your message. Here are some highlights from the survey:

  • “A majority of the talk radio audience is…35 – 64.”
  • “…talk radio’s audience has to be considered among mass media’s most affluent with a high percentage of listeners earning over $50,000 annually.”
  • “…a notably high percentage of listeners have attended one or more years of college. (35% have graduated with a four-year college degree.)”

In summary, “Talk radio listeners are diverse, mature, educated, attentive, active and affluent…” A powerful audience!

But, being able to secure interviews on quality stations is only half the battle; you also have to be good on the air to make the most of the opportunity that this valuable medium affords you.

I wrote a booklet of 50 tips to help you be all you can be on the air, and every so often we like to dig in that bag of tricks to remind you of some basic—but important—tips to being a good radio guest. So, here are five top tips for turning those media opportunities into action:

  1. 1. BE ENTHUSIASTIC. Enthusiasm is more contagious than the common cold, so be sure you bring lots of it to the table; radio hosts love it when you do. When you’re excited about your message it can’t help but radiate to listeners too. That excitement in turn propels them to learn more about your book when the interview is over. So heed this insightful Zig Zigler warning, “For every sale you miss because you’re too enthusiastic, you will miss a hundred because you’re not enthusiastic enough.”
  2. 2. AVOID DISTRACTIONS. Having listened to talk radio, you probably know that 90 percent of all interviews are conducted by phone. That’s both good and bad news. The good news is you get to do your talking in comfortable, familiar surroundings. The bad news is you get to do your talking in comfortable, familiar surroundings; in other words, in places where there may be barking dogs, meowing cats, noisy kids, and blaring TVs. Be sure you’ve eliminated, at least temporarily, any potential distractions. Turn off your computer and the TV (or TVs) and make sure you switch off your cell phone. Put the pets outside. Alert your family about what you’re doing. Remember, nothing screams “amateur” more than listeners hearing you yell at your kids to quiet down. If necessary, lock yourself in a room for total privacy—and stay focused.
  3. 3. BE HONEST. This may sound like good, old-fashioned advice—and it is—but here’s what I have in mind: Your host and his listeners have this uncanny ability to detect falsehood. They’re like organic lie-detectors, and there’s absolutely nothing worse than getting caught, on air, telling less than the truth. Be open and honest with everyone. Remember, listeners relate better to people they feel they can read like an open book. Take a page out of Howard Stern’s book, no matter what you think of the guy, Stern built an empire by being honest with his listeners.
  4. 4. BE THE REAL YOU. This is a corollary to #3 above. Present yourself as…yourself, warts and all. Do not, for instance, use the occasion of a talk show interview to try out that impressive British accent you’ve been practicing. And, don’t use six syllable words when you’re used to talking in everyday language. I’m joking around here, but you get the idea. The real unprocessed “you” communicates a lot about your character and that gives audiences a better handle on both you and your message.
  5. 5. DEFINE YOUR MESSAGE. Before going on the air, know the key points you want to communicate. Make sure those points will be of greatest value to the listener. Then stay “on message” no matter how far off the host’s questions take you. Always steer your answers back to your own key message and all will be well.

While it may seem like common sense on paper, applying these tips isn’t necessarily second nature. But you’ll find that the more interviews you do, the more these tips become second nature and the more value you’ll derive from your publicity campaigns.

When I speak to authors who’re looking for cost-effective ways to build or strengthen consumer awareness about their book, talk radio is one of my absolute favorite recommendations. Spending 10 to 15 minutes out of your day to speak to an audience of thousands or more about your book, with no travel involved…does the opportunity get any better?

Actually, it does. We’re one of the pioneers of “pay-for-performance” PR, which means our clients don’t pay a monthly retainer for “best efforts,” rather they are guaranteed a specific number of radio interviews for the fees they pay us.

So, if you have a book that answers a common problem for consumers, appearing as a guest on talk radio is a smart PR tactic that should be part of your overall marketing strategy to build awareness around the country.


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