Interviews on radio and talk shows are probably the most coveted means of getting one's message out if you are in the business of talking. From a two-minute news story to a half hour talk show, interviews on broadcast are worth their weight in gold. Since radio and TV make their profit from SELLING time, if you can get that amount of FREE time, you are scoring big!
But how do you get that interview?
The first step is to identify the stations and programs to go after. Start with the local stations in the community you will be having your speaking engagement in. Do a search on the Internet with the name of the town or city and the keywords “radio stations.” Once you have a list, go to each of those stations' websites and find out their formats and any satellite programs they may broadcast.
The easiest place to obtain that coveted interview is with local talk shows or as a local news story. So start there.
Emails and phone calls are a good place to start, but since everyone else is sending to and calling the newsroom, you will want to make yourself stand out. First, find out what local stories are hot and when you write your email or call, refer to that story in the subject line of your email and when you first call the station. When possible, refer to the reporter who wrote or produced the piece. You will want to make them KNOW that you are aware of the local issues they are covering at that time and how your message will apply to it: the more of a “local angle” you can have, the better.
When calling the station, be aware that they ARE BUSY!!! It is best to ask for a specific person, preferably the reporter who covered the local story you will be referring to. Name the local talk show you would like to appear on… do not just ask for an interview. The more specific and local you can be, the better. Make their job as easy as you can.
Refer to the local issue, tell them how your message fits in with that issue and how you can provide a unique angle to it. This may take a bit of creativity on your part. For example, if the issue locally is an increase in drug use at the school and you are a BUSINESS coach… how can you connect the dots?
The answer is… approach the problem identified in the issue as a business problem. How do you advise business professionals on problems they may find with their companies? The same technique can be applied if you are a life coach or a marriage counselor. It can also be applied to just about any issue: a plant shutting down, a conflict with local city government, local historic preservation, etc. The common denominator in all local issues and with your message is PEOPLE.
Now, you have taken the first steps to getting that interview. You have sent emails and made contact by phone. What next?
Persistance! But remember… there is a fine line between being persistent and being a pest. That line with news reporters is if they feel you are telling them how to do their job. Don't do that! Instead, a follow up would include any updates on that local angle the station may have covered. If the topic is still hot, your NEW angle on it will be something those reporters are looking for. However, if that issue has cooled off, approaching the reporter with a new issue and how you relate to it will be the avenue you will want to take. This will not seem a desperate way to get an interview if you make it appear that you are relevant to many local issues… which is the reason they will want to interview you.
The key to landing that interview is making the reporters/producers or news directors' job as EASY as you can without telling them HOW to do their jobs. Identify what it is they want and then give that to them.
Here are some final tips in landing an interview:
Avoid using a cell phone for a phone interview. The quality is bad and you run the risk of losing a signal. If at all possible, do the interview in person. If you can't because of scheduling or location, then a land-line phone is your next best choice.
Be as flexible with time and scheduling as you can. Your first choice would be to schedule it to coincide with your speaking engagement, but that may not be possible. Sometimes, especially during busy times, talk shows are simply booked up. If a time is available AFTER your gig, still take it. It will serve as a reminder of the message you delivered at your speech and may open up new opportunities for future speaking engagements.
Remember that the station, the reporter, the producer and the news director are the ones in control of your HAVING the interview and how it will be conducted. YOU are only in control of what you say during the interview. Use the opportunity to your greatest advantage.
And finally, live talk shows are the only time you have control over what will be heard by the public. In a recorded interview, the producer, news director or reporter may have to EDIT for time's sake. And, in some cases, you can actually be misquoted because of the way they edit and write the story. You cannot control this, but you CAN be prepared for it! Just know that it can happen and do not over-react. You do NOT want to make enemies with the media. Instead, as a follow-up, whether the interview went good or bad, send a thank you or follow up with a thank you phone call. Those stations just gave you free air-time, so no matter what, thank them for it!