Not many will disagree with the fact that talk radio is a fabulous promotion tool. What author wouldn’t treasure the opportunity to speak directly to consumers who may be interested in purchasing their book, product or service? Sounds great, right?
The face of radio has changed quite a bit over the past decade here are just a few of the changes. The hosts of major-market radio shows, which had extremely attractive audiences, used to bring guests in the studio for long chats. Not three or four minutes, but how about half an hour or longer! This was a time when a guest could knock off a couple radio interviews and send sales soaring. What has changed? First, there are not as many big stations that accept guests – many have changed to a music format or don’t accept guests that have a product or service to sell. Another change is that the amount of guest air-time has been greatly reduced. Radio talk shows nowadays find that listeners are more likely to stay tuned if they have three 10-minute guests per show rather than one guest featured for 30 minutes.
Unless you are a big name, the chances of hitting pay dirt with a couple of large radio interviews are pretty slim.
As a public relations expert who has been in the industry for over two decades, I believe that in order to get your book, product or service the exposure that it deserves, it is crucial that you know what the playing field is like. Now that you are aware of the competitive nature of this media marketplace, let me share a suggestion for anyone who is just starting out with their book promotion: small radio stations.
Below are some great reasons why small stations can really make a difference in the promotion of your book!
The More Interviews You Do…
When it comes to publicity, and in this case radio publicity, quantity is very significant. This means that you shouldn’t scratch a radio show off of your hit list or reject their booking request just because they doesn’t have the hottest host or the highest wattage. Every show counts! The more interviews that you do the more buzz you are building. Although it would be awesome to exclusively book yourself on shows in the top 5 radio markets that are 50,000-watt stations and hosted by a celebrity…but this no longer the norm. Don’t let this be a mental block, there is power in numbers…meaning quantity!
Think about it: even with a 1,000-watt station, you are still reaching an audience. So say a 1,000-watt radio station has around 100 listeners, it’s a waste of time right? Wrong! What if you had the opportunity to speak to an auditorium full of 100 people about your business? Would you go? Of course you would! Keep this in mind when looking at stations. Every small station has value and adds to your overall quantity which fuels the buzz.
Practice Makes Perfect
Imagine it: getting booked on your first show in a major market with a top host. You probably have never even given an interview in your life. Possibly you may do a few practice runs with a friend or colleague, but nothing live on the air. So you get on the air, the host throws you off your topic, you get lost, agitated all resulting in a very unprofessional start.
I have seen it with numerous clients; it takes at least 10 radio interviews before most guests get comfortable behind the microphone. This is the beauty of small stations. With a substantially smaller audience they give you the real live feel without the fear of massive embarrassment. At the end of the day small radio stations allow you to practice how to be not just a focused guest, but one that sounds like a “radio pro”.
No Fear, No Errors
Not everyone is a natural born communicator, and if you are an author whose expertise is in the written word it is rare to find a great author who is also a great verbal communicator. First time authors are especially prone to stage fright – yes, even on radio!
Stage fright on the radio has one major result: errors! Typical errors for first time guests on talk radio include not giving out the web site address or 1-800 number. Or giving them out too much or not enough! A huge mistake is to mention your web address and phone number too often and in turn upset the host, who will let you know in no uncertain terms that this is their show and not an infomercial.
Technical guests have a tendency to slide into techno-babble, and even good guests inevitably walk out of their first few interviews knowing they could have been better. Wouldn’t it best if you are new to the radio game to make your mistakes in front of a smaller audience? Getting your feet wet in on 1,000-watt radio shows will help you remove your fear factor and reduce the amount of error for when you get on the big-time shows!
Give Your Message a Tune-Up
When you are just starting out promoting on talk radio it can be pretty tough to know what your true message is. You know what your business is about and the passion that you have for it, but everything seems relevant! How do you cut it down? This is yet another great function of starting out your campaign on smaller channels….you find ways of trimming down your book’s message to a few powerful words.
The more you get to talk with interviewers, even though the audience may not be huge, will enable you to crystallize your thoughts on your topic. Hey, it may even give you new ideas about your topic that you never realized before the interviews!
Don’t Let Size Fool You: Be Prepared
Booking small stations can be an adventure. Be prepared to run into some hosts who are unprofessional. To beat this make sure you confirm an interview at least twice before you are scheduled to appear on the air. These hosts may also not be as prepared as their big-time counterparts (meaning they probably have not read you book). So you will need to be ready to walk them through your major topics.
The best idea is to prepare for these interviews by considering how you would explain your book to a stranger on the street that you have met for the first time. Just know that some very bright people listen to some very small radio stations; make sure not to talk down to your audience.