Over the years, I’ve always advised my clients that if you want to get in the news, you have to watch and read the news. I know it sounds a little like “bumper sticker” advice, but it’s really not meant as a sound bite. In fact, we use a practical application of that advice every single morning at our agency.
It’s actually a very simple list of easy steps that anyone can do, and it can get blockbuster results.
- Read the Feed (or watch the news) – A daily routine of following breaking news and popular stories is the first and most essential step in my formula for how you can get interviewed by the media. If you are Internet savvy and prefer to get your news digitally, tracking news trends will be a breeze. There are many online news outlets, such as Yahoo, MSN, CNN and AOL, that prominently feature on their sites the most searched and significant news events each day. There are also other online services, such as Google Alerts, Digg, and others, that allow users to stay on top of the hot topics. If your preference – like me – is to watch the news on TV and/or read daily newspapers, those are also effective methods for keeping up with the news cycles. Whether you prefer traditional or digital news, the key thing is to establish a news-tracking routine and stick to it. It will orient you as to which news topics are getting the most attention, and will be a strong predictor of which stories are most likely to have a longer cycle on TV news outlets.
- Identify a Hook – As you follow the news each day, think creatively about how your company or your expertise could be applied to comment on news events of the day. I’ll relate something that happened this past month, and how we applied it. We have a client who is a world-class financial advisor. He is a former Wall Street player who made himself very comfortable through that life, but felt another calling for himself. Now he works as a financial planner for families in trouble, and he’s extremely passionate about it. We were looking for news hooks other than the typical “Tips for the Rough Times” pitch that has been making the rounds since 2008. As we were doing that, it hit the wire that the IRS was going to be taxing the claims being collected from BP Oil by the workers displaced by the disaster. At the same time, we had just finished watching a clip of Anderson Cooper of CNN on the ground in Louisiana, covering the crisis. At that point, it rang like a bell – we’d send our client to the Gulf Coast to help those hardest hit by the disaster. So, in a matter of minutes, our team went from, “This is a great hook,” to implementation.
- Develop your Angle – Taking my client example from above, we developed an angle for him using the BP oil story as a launching pad. We emailed him to see if he had any specific tips for the Gulf Coasters, and he came through beautifully. We cobbled his tips into the pitch, and it flowed like this:
A Guide for Gulf Coast Victims of the BP Oil Spill
Financial Expert Offers Tips on Getting Through the Worst
Gulf Coast workers displaced by the BP oil spill have had to deal with losing their jobs, losing their businesses and many are losing their homes. But there are ways that they can protect themselves right now from further damage. Money expert (name deleted, because we’re still pitching him and we don’t want to jinx anything!), has a slew of creative and practical tips for those affected by the disaster.
He says that uncertainty on when the spill will be stopped leads to the uncertainty about long-term economic activity and its effects on employment, consumer spending and housing prices. So, he is advising people to do the following things:
- Be Prepared. Prepare for the worst case scenario. Build up a cash position equal to 3-6 months living expenses. Keep a significant amount of cash in your house in case you may be forced to evacuate due to a storm or adverse environmental conditions. Keep enough gasoline on hand to be able to fill your vehicle.
- Stock Up. Build up a supply of food and water in case a sudden evacuation is ordered or if city water sources are deemed undrinkable.
- Get Trained. If your livelihood is based on fishing or tourism, consider getting training in industries not dependent on the fishing or hospitality industries. If worse case scenarios develop, jobs lost in these areas will not come back for many years.
- Fill Out the Forms. Apply for all aid and compensation available from both BP and state and Federal government. If income has stopped or decreased significantly, apply for food stamps and other social assistance.
- Watch the Real Estate Market. Be prepared for lower real estate values for some time to come. Even if the spill stopped tomorrow, the ecological effects will be felt for years. Gulf Coast real estate, both commercial and residential, is falling dramatically and will not rebound anytime soon.
- Stay Well. Monitor your family’s health as there have been reports of mysterious sicknesses in Gulf residents and cleanup workers.
- Read the News. Stay informed as best you can. In addition to traditional news sources, read blogs, where you may find reports that are not widely available to the public. BP and the federal government have not been fully forthcoming in informing the public of the extent of the disaster.
Thanks for your consideration – let me know if you’re interested.
- Blast it Out – Once you’ve read the news, identified a hook and written up your angle, it is time to launch your effort. When you pitch something that is hot in the news, you also need to call producers individually to follow up, ensuring they received and read your email. Many national producers won’t take phone calls, so at the very least, send your emails with a return receipt so you can track that they opened it.
To follow through with the effort we began earlier this month, we have booked two national TV interviews and six local TV interviews across the Gulf Coast, with the campaign continuing all through the month. So the bottom line here is that by doing this daily exercise, you will enable yourself to take advantage of these kinds of headlines. And who knows? You might even be able to fold yourself into the national news cycle.