It takes a variety of skills to garner media interview opportunities. Knowing how to target the right media decision makers, formulate a winning pitch, and the best ways to reach the right producers and editors are all critically important. But timing your media pitch matters as much as everything else. And, when good timing fails, then it’s critical to know how to create a winning news hook.
In part, good timing is a matter of good planning. To maximize the potential of good timing, tie your pitch into upcoming seasons, holidays, and current events. That way, the media knows why it should interview you now.
However, good timing also involves good luck. To some degree, you cannot control the effectiveness of your timing when you’re trying to garner media attention. Here’s an example.
When President Obama asked the United Nations National Assembly for the last time, you’d think that would grab headlines. And, ordinarily, it would have. After all, President Obama is, well, President Obama. He’s the leader of the free world. Plus, he speaks eloquently. That means, when he speaks, and dozens of reporters have to capture his words and disseminate them to audiences throughout the globe.
Unfortunately, the day on which President Obama spoke to the United Nations happened to be the day that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt announced they were getting a divorce. Oops. The media was certainly on fire — but it wasn’t because of anything that President Obama had said. No. The only words that media consumers were interested in, on that day, were those of “Brangelina.”
Angelina and Brad, effectively, blew Barack right off the front page of the news. Timing is everything.
Because you can’t control what happens in the world, you have to learn how to use what’s happening in the world to help you convince the media to interview you now. The way to do that is to formulate hooks based on the news.
If you were pitching yourself as a potential guest in the wake of Angelina and Brad’s divorce (or any other front-burner happening), your willingness to formulate a related news hook can mean garnering media attention because of what’s happened — or losing the opportunity forever.
The news hook your create is an individual process and is very much dependent upon your expertise. Here are some potential news hooks that relate to Angelina and Brad’s divorce announcement:
For a relationships expert, your hook might be, “Wow! We thought Angelina and Brad’s relationship was eternal, but their announcement should remind us that nothing is forever. We all need to work on our relationships. Here’s how.” A parenting author might offer a news hook like this: “Angelina and Brad’s children are entering a new phase with their parents’ breakup. Here are the steps the couple should be taking right now to make sure their kids get through this difficult time in one piece.” An expert on women’s issues might create a news hook such as, “Angelina Jolie appeared to have everything, but even celebrities have to deal with protecting themselves against men who will behave badly.” A finance expert might spin a news hook: “To facilitate the process of fairly dividing property and bank accounts, here’s how to begin.” A legal expert might say, “Okay, then. Here’s why I recommend that everyone have a prenuptial agreement in place. Do it now, and here’s what to keep in mind.”
Here are some tips for creating news hooks:
- Seek out opportunities. If you can lend your expertise to a news story that’s unfolding now, you might well be able to garner immediate interview opportunities. So keep an eye on the news.
Be creative. No one is going to design your media hook for you. You’ll have to make the connections between the news event and your expertise, and sometimes, this will require some out-of-the-box thinking. For example, are you a pet psychologist? Perhaps Angelina and Brad jointly parented dogs or cats, and you can garner airtime by talking about how change might affect their pets.
Don’t push it. While you seek ways in which your expertise might inform news stories, don’t stretch the possible connection. I doubt that you can find any way to convince the media that, as a bus driver, you have professional advice you must share immediately with Angelina and Brad…and you don’t want to alienate media decision makers by straining their patience.
Keep trying. If a news hook you create gets great results, terrific. Build on that experience to do something similar next time. If your news hook falls flat, figure out what you might have done wrong, and correct the mistake in the future.
The important thing is that you continually recognize the opportunity to create news hooks, and that you stay in touch with media decision makers so they’ll recognize who you are and what you can offer. Ideally, while you reach out to the media with news hooks that you find, producers and editors will be seeking you out when a related story is unfolding. Then you’ll know you’ve really hooked the media!
Stacey J. Miller is an independent book promotion specialist and founder of S. J. Miller Communications. Visit her at www.bookpr.com.