Blazing A Trail Of Publicity Until The Paparazzi Get Here

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We all love to dream big, so I guess it’s no surprise that at EMSI we occasionally speak with people who expect to leapfrog over what they consider the “lesser” media and land a spot in the chair next to Ellen or be quoted in the New York Times.

My husband and business partner, Steve, who has a great sense of humor, sometimes gets in a teasing mood when he is on the phone with potential clients who express this sort of ambition.

He tells them to get up and go to the window. They are rightfully puzzled and ask why they should do that. “Just go look out the window,” he repeats.

Being good sports, they comply. When they return to the phone, Steve playfully asks, “Did you see any paparazzi out there?”

The message, delivered with a bit of lightheartedness, is clear: For most of us, the media is not hovering at the doorstep, ready to cling to every word we say.

Certainly, the point is not to dash anyone’s dreams of hitting the big time with publicity (I’ll cheer enthusiastically if you do), but you have to be realistic. Before you have a reasonable shot at getting Ellen DeGeneres or the New York Times or anyone else of that caliber to even consider you, you need to build credibility and give them a reason to want to interview you.

Top-tier publications and national TV talk shows prefer sources and guests with a track record. If they Google you and find nothing more than your LinkedIn and Facebook pages, they likely will move on.

If, however, they discover a series of articles where you are quoted or featured, they will pay more attention. Someone else has considered you an expert worth listening to; maybe they should as well.

Let me offer a few tips for getting started on creating that media track record.

  • Think of yourself as a product. Perhaps you wrote a book. Perhaps there is something you sell or a service you offer. As you create a personal brand online, you need to think of yourself as a product you’re marketing and incorporate the tools needed to build your brand as an expert in your field.
  • Have your own website. Many people I speak with have a website for their company or for a book they’ve written, but not for themselves. A website with your name featured prominently is a critical branding tool in marketing yourself as an expert or an author. Your site should represent you in a professional manner, talk about your accomplishments, share your credentials as an expert, offer advice in a blog perhaps. At the end of the day, your website has to give a reason for a visitor to want to engage with you.
  • Go after the media. If the paparazzi aren’t coming to you, it’s because they don’t know who you are! That’s why you need to be aggressive and go after them.

To start, you can pitch story ideas to your hometown media offering yourself as an expert who can speak with authority on your topic. Submit op-ed pieces to the local newspaper. Write articles for industry publications. Each printed piece is a victory – it’s one more notch in your media-track-record belt and another boost to your personal brand.

Now don’t misunderstand. There’s nothing wrong with seeking national exposure, but you shouldn’t go into a publicity campaign with the view that it’s top-tier media or nothing. Those smaller publications may not carry the cachet that the Washington Post or Time magazine do, but they play a significant role in helping you build your personal brand into a winning product so that top-tier media will start to take notice.

Who knows? One day you may look out the window and tell Steve: “I see paparazzi. Same as yesterday.”

Ready for those flashing lights!


P.S. If you need professional help in marketing yourself to the media, give us a call at 727-443-7115 ext. 215 or click here to get started with your Free Media Analysis.

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