Connecting with the media bridges the divide between you and your audience. The primary purpose of media attention, in all of its forms, is to gain attention from readers outside of your current circle of influence. Media coverage is often short-lived, like any story in a 24-hour news cycle, so it is important to use media coverage as a complementary source for building your author platform.
What are the four types of media?
According to SpinSucks, there are four types of media: earned, paid, owned, and shared. In this section, we’ll talk primarily about earned media. It’s what we think of when we talk about publicity. We consider media as earned when we gain media attention by doing something newsworthy enough for the media to broadcast it.
Paid media consists of advertising in all its forms online, in print publications, on the radio or streaming services, on TV, on billboards, etc. We pay to have our name or book in front of our target readers.
Owned media is the IP (intellectual property) you own and control, such as the content on your website. It also includes your customers’ stories and other content like courses and webinars.
Shared media, more often referred to as social media, consists of content you share on social media plus content your followers share about you or originates from your profile. You don’t control the platform or algorithms of shared media companies like Facebook. That fact requires you to diversify your media portfolio to ensure you don’t get caught without an effective platform.
Who do I contact?
Who is really considered part of the media? According to WhatAGraph.com, there are three main types of media: print, broadcast, and internet media.
Print media consists of newspapers, magazines, billboards, and assets like flyers. When we talk about publicity, we focus on newspapers and magazines, like The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, and Field and Stream. Its readers could be local, regional, national, or international.
Broadcast media includes radio, television, streaming services, podcasts, and movies. It includes major TV networks like CNN and individual stations like your local news programs. You’ll also have individual programs like Good Morning America, NPR’s Fresh Air, The Tonight Show, or your local sports radio station.
In addition to print and broadcast, media also consists of the people behind these programs: TV anchors, reporters, podcasters, bloggers, freelance writers, YouTubers, and the like. While you may want to be on or reported by a particular program, it’s the people who hold the key.
When do I do media outreach?
Doing media outreach, like press releases or other connections, is perfect for your book launch week. However, if your book has recurring timely value, you may issue multiple press releases or connect with the media throughout the year. For instance, if you wrote a self-help book, connect with the media in December for an early January release when readers/listeners/viewers are most likely to consume the information. If there is something notable in the news related to your book—the setting, characters, or topic—contact the media for a different angle or an expert opinion on a trending topic.
Where can I connect with the media?
In addition to broadcasting a press release through press releases outlets, it’s important to connect with local and hyperlocal media. Neighborhood and community newspapers, as they still exist, love local interest stories. “Local person does something notable.”
To find the best connections, hunt for articles, podcasts, news stories, and blogs that contain stories about authors or books or write about a topic contained in your book. However, we know that we aren’t pitching a newspaper as much as we are pitching a person on our idea.
Warming up your target media person helps establish a connection before the pitch. Check the byline of an article for an email or connect with them on social media. Like and comment on their stories and posts to establish a connection before you pitch a story idea. Be helpful or appreciative of them and their work, so when you approach, you are already a known and welcome follower.
What to say?
The key to a successful pitch lies in your ability to convey a noteworthy story to their audience. The story is not necessarily you and your book, but perhaps, what you had to overcome, how you achieved it, or the impact it has on the community, individuals, or society. It can’t just be that you worked hard to write the book. It can be a universal truth to which many people can relate or a fascinating tidbit of information uncovered. Your pitch can relate to a setting or a place in time of a popular TV series or your unusual trip to research the book. If you donate some of the proceeds of the book to a charity, bring light to the charity and why it’s important. If there is an event associated with your release, like a charity run or a gala, all the better. Press releases and media outreach are most effective when authors keep the reporters/bloggers/podcasters, AND their audiences in mind.
Consider what will resonate with a particular audience. Do they need entertainment, information, a different worldview, or be inspired? Crawl into the head of the target media’s audience and deliver a pitch that makes them stop and notice. Because of different host and audience needs, tailor your pitch to the person you are pitching.
Planning for media outreach
If media outreach is part of your platform-building strategy, make a plan of where and when you will connect with local, regional, and/or national media. Write your goals for how many interviews you would like to do in a certain timeframe or how many emails you’ll send to targeted media.
For example, you may want to be interviewed on ten podcasts/blogs/local news outlets during your launch month. Work backward to determine how many podcasters, bloggers, and reporters you need to pitch to get to your goal. Going even farther back, you’ll need additional time to write your press release or podcast pitch and research the best outlets.
Compile other details like a high- and low-resolution headshot and book cover. It may also be useful to have a digital press kit or a book one-sheet complete with reviews, your website, social media channels, and awards, among other things.
To have the biggest impact using media outreach to sell your book, write your goals for this strategy and a timeframe to complete it. Research and connect with various members of the media to establish a connection before you pitch. Write your pitch or press release and compile other details for your one-sheet or press kit. Once you’ve sent your pitches, follow up with each media person with a gentle nudge. Finally, measure your results to see if your work paid off in terms of sales and audience growth.