How to Land Dr. Phil in Less than 24 Hours
In March of 2009 Michelle Tennant Nicholson of Wasabi Publicity, Inc., sat down to speak with Yum Yum Dishes founder Tracy Adler about how to land Dr. Phil and CNN in less than 24 Hours.
Here’s the transcript:
Michelle: Okay. We’re at the top of the hour, and we’re gonna go ahead and get started. Today is Wednesday, March 25th. I’m Michelle Tennant Nicholson. And thanks for joining us. We have a how-to conversation, sort of like a little lounge atmosphere, where we talk about how to score ink and air time for yourself.
And today’s topic is: how to get booked on Dr. Phil. And I’ve got with me Tracy Adler, who is the creator of Yum Yum Dishes, and she is all atwitter about – “Hey. How can you actually get booked on Dr. Phil? I heard that you did that for some other clients, and so I want to know how to do it for me.”
And if you don’t know who I am, let me introduce myself, so that you kind of get a little idea of who you’re speaking to. And we are using a new conference system, so I’m not quite sure – I’m gonna have to ask my team how to suppress everybody’s name when they come on.
So everybody will just have to kind of ignore that. Because we’re probably gonna hear more people logging on. They’re gonna introduce themselves. And in the future, I promise I’ll figure out how to suppress that. But for the time being, let’s just kind of include it and let it be and welcome everyone.
And we will actually do a little bit of a presentation between Tracy and me first, where she’s gonna be asking me questions. And then we’re gonna open it up to others on the line, those of you who have already introduced yourselves, and others.
If you are eating or cooking dinner or lunch in the background – you’ve got the dishes going, and you want to mute yourself, it’s very easy. You just hit *6 to mute yourself. And to un-mute yourself, you hit *6. Okay?
And if you’re listening to this recording, and you have a question for me for the future, at any time you can definitely email me at: email@example.com. If you’re in front of your computer right now, too, you can just kind of log on to PublicityResults.com, and then you can kind of see all about Wasabi Publicity and who I am.
And you can also check out my blog in the future. It’s StorytellertotheMedia.com. So for sure I’m accessible to you if you have questions in the future. Okay?
A little bit about who I am. I’ve been doing PR for 20 years. Most of the people know me as my moniker – Storyteller to the Media. And I’ve really been doing PR even before the Internet. I turn 40 this August, and I really feel 40.
I started placing PR when I was in undergraduate school. And we used a Brother typewriter and a fax machine, and that Brother typewriter only had room for three cover letters. So just a lot has happened in my two decades of doing PR, where now we not only have the Internet under us to _____, but also social networking and lots of other things that I’ll get into – and how to use that for Dr. Phil and other talk venues that I’ve placed, like –
Let me just go through a list of some of them. Good Morning America. Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell. CNN. BBC. The Today Show. Oprah. Glenn Beck. Fox and Friends. CBS Early Show. Women’s World. Entrepreneur. Parents Magazine. Health Magazine. CNBC. The Associated Press. And I could go on and on and on.
You know when you’ve been doing this for a few years, you tend to get some friends in the media. So they do come to me as a source regularly, and I just love my job, and I love serving them, and that’s really what we’re gonna be talking about today.
So without any further ado, let me introduce my co-host, Tracy Adler. Hi, Tracy.
Tracy: Hey, Michelle.
Michelle: Tracy is a client of Wasabi Publicity, and also a friend of mine. And I’ve asked Tracy to join us today, so that she can actually ask me what’s on her mind about Dr. Phil. I thought it would be really valuable for – a lot of people, when I’m out and about at a coffee shop or whatever, or just at a seminar or whatever – and they’re like, “Oh, you’re a publicist, and you book Oprah and Dr. Phil. How do I do it?”
So I thought we would have some authentic questions from people who are really interested in scoring top media for themselves, and then actually ask me: “How do you do it?” And then I’ll answer that in the same call. And I really invite you to share this recording with other people who have similar interests. We will make it available free to everyone at PublicityResults.com. You just have to sign up as a VIP member to actually download it.
And I will also link to it this week from my blog at StorytellertotheMedia.com. But if you’re listening in the future, the place to get this recording and our other recordings for free would be in the VIP Membership area of PublicityResults.com. Tracy, welcome.
Tracy: Hey. Thanks, Michelle.
Michelle: Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your product, Yum Yum Dishes, so that people actually know kind of the context that you’re interested in, in scoring top media.
Tracy: Well, the Yum Yum Dishes are portion-control dishes that I sell for, oh, children, adults, anybody interested in eating smaller portions, that don’t necessarily want to give up any of the good foods. And I sell those on the website. And as you know, Michelle, I used to sell those out of my restaurant, which I just recently sold.
And it’s interesting, because when I was thinking of the questions I wanted to ask you today, some of my questions are related to national PR, in regards to Yum Yum Dishes. But I also, through experience in trying to promote the restaurant – a casual, fine dining restaurant – just the kinds of things that would come up in trying to get PR – I have some questions related to that.
Tracy: So it’ll be sort of a mix.
Tracy: And you mentioned, just a few minutes ago, that over the years – over the 20 years – you developed relationships with folks in the media. And I’m just wondering, first of all – I hadn’t thought about this until you mentioned it – but did you actually know –?
Michelle: Let me just interject there.
Michelle: Because this is a very casual atmosphere. But if someone actually wants to mute yourself, because you’ve got a phone ringing in the background, or any other background noise, it’s simple just to hit *6 to mute yourself. And as the coordinator, I may just go ahead and actually enable that for others. But I want to keep it open, before I do that. So if you find that you’ve got some background noises, hit *6. Go ahead, Tracy.
Michelle: That’s okay. You’re on a teleconference, and you’re like, “Oh crap. My phone’s ringing.” It’s fine. That’s cool.
Tracy: I’m curious. Like right off the top of the bat, did you know somebody at Dr. Phil – at the Dr. Phil show? I mean was that a connection that you already had?
Michelle: Dr. Phil – I’ve been trying to crack that nut for years, I will admit. And so I have not previously had a friendship over at Dr. Phil. No. Did I have contact over at Dr. Phil? Yes. All publicists have access to media databases that we purchase. You know we purchase it from different sources. They’re also available online. You can go to Dr. Phil and actually see them.
Michelle: But what I did is I went to my list, that I’ve actually purchased – and we purchase from Cision.
Tracy: Oh okay.
Michelle: But I also have other – you know there are three media lists – two online – which are sometimes just as good. They might not keep up with all the turnover of the media. Most publicists, doing what I do, will have access to a list. So it’s not that you need to know somebody.
Michelle: You know? Like I always say, “It’s not just who you know; it’s who knows about you.”
Michelle: So even if I don’t have a personal relationship with a producer over at Dr. Phil – of course, now I do. Now I can go back to that producer. But if I give them something that they can actually use, they’re gonna pay attention to that.
Tracy: Okay. So what did you send to the Dr. Phil producer to get their attention this particular time?
Michelle: Okay. Well, first what I did is I interviewed the client. Her name is Dr. Jill Murray, and she is a psychotherapist in Orange County, California. And she contacted us – it was really interesting – like Tuesday evening. Right? I think that was – yeah, Tuesday evening. No. Monday evening, the 9th of March, 2009. And she said, “I’d like to have some PR.” Now this is not a typical result.
I just want everybody to know, it usually takes like a year. You know? It usually takes something. But when you have the factors together, like she did, and like I did with her, you can actually produce a result in short order.
And here’s what she had going for her. She contacted me. She said, “I’ve already been on Oprah once.” So right there, she’s got the credibility established that all of the other top dogs need. Right?
Michelle: And then I interviewed her Tuesday morning, the 10th. She signed a contract with us and said, “I want you to please do a distribution and pitch to everybody about the breaking news around Rhianna and Chris Brown.” And I said, “Okay. Great.”
So she signed her contract about noon on March 10th. So by 1:00, after my team had processed the contract, I was on the phone interviewing her. And I was actually interviewing her about – what I said to her – specific things – I said, “What do you want to say to the public, that’s not being said right now with this breaking news?”
You know many of us – like you, of course, Tracy – you’re gonna be seeing breaking news around portion control. And you’re like, “If you had me on Ellen or Oprah, I would say X, Y, Z.” Right?
Michelle: All of us who have some kind of expert level at something have that inclination in our gut, like – “Well, if they asked me, I would say X,Y, Z.” You want to write that down, because that’s what they’re looking for.
Michelle: They’re looking for something fresh and different about that same topic. And that’s all I asked Dr. Murray. I said, “What are you saying to your friends and associates about – ‘Boy, this is what people need.’?”
And so about Chris Brown and Rhianna, in particular, she had specific things like: how text messaging actually can contribute to domestic violence, how it interplays with that. She had specific information about what it says about Chris Brown, that he attacked her neck and face, which is how she makes her money. You know she had specific things that nobody else is talking about.
Michelle: So I interviewed her, and then I kind of reflected on what she said. And all I did was I crafted her three to five messages that were fresh and different, that nobody was saying, and I put them in this nice little sandwich pitch.
And it goes something like this: “Hi, Tracy. Blah, blah, blah.” I personalize it to all the producers over at Dr. Phil. Because I have their names and numbers and all of that. And if you don’t have the names and numbers, you can easily purchase it, hire a PR firm, or research it online for free – however you need to do that. It’s out there; it’s public information.
The producers, in particular – there were two that I interacted with – Stephanie and Annette – and I said, “Dear Stephanie, Dr. Jill Murray –” First I answer credibility. So I say, “She’s good to go. She’s been on Oprah.”
You want to get right to the point. “Do you need an expert to talk about Rhianna and Chris Brown breaking news?” Number one. So they first know what to do with that information. You have to be very clear what you’re talking about. Mabel Chan, over at Good Morning America, told me this year – she was like, “You know what? I get 1,500 emails in three hours.”
Michelle: Okay? So you know that it’s upon us, in the subject header and the first sentence – that’s all they have time to read, is that. So you’ve got to stand out. Well, how do you stand out? You get to the point, and very succinctly.
I put “Rhianna” in the subject header, and I say, “Dr. Jill Murray blah, blah, blah – has three stages of violence, and she has –” and then these other topics around text messaging, and what it says about Chris – about the abuser – how he attacks the woman. “So do you want ______?”
Then it was about her credibility. She’s been on Oprah. She’s been on 20/20. She’s good to go. And then – “Here’s what she’ll say when she comes on air. Here’s what she can discuss. Boom. Boom. Boom.”
And then her location. Because it’s very important for broadcast, in particular. For print, it doesn’t matter. They can call you on the phone. Radio, it doesn’t matter. They can call you on the phone. But for people who need in-studio, they need to know where you are, and by when you can get to them. So the last part was: “She’s based in Orange County, and can be in L.A. at a moment’s notice.”
Michelle: And I also said, “She’s working as a psychotherapist. But her clients are used to her being in the media, so she can actually handle her schedule quickly.” And they called that night. We pushed the distribution to all of our contacts between 3:00 to 6:00. You know it takes us a while to get it out to all the top newsmakers. And then by 8:00 Eastern Time that evening, I had Dr. Phil’s producers – I was actually at a seminar in Charlotte.
But I’m very committed to getting back to people in a short time, so I had my assistant – she was watching incoming communication, both on phone and email, for me. And I was alerted to leave my seminar, go outside, and help this producer who needed Jill in-studio by Wednesday morning.
Tracy: Hmm. Wow.
Michelle: That’s what I said.
Michelle: So what I sent was basically an email, a personalized email.
Tracy: Okay. Well, of course you’ll be totally honest, because you’re Michelle. But if she – if Dr. Murray has sent that email herself, would it have been as well-received as coming from a publicist? Do you need a publicist? Is that a bonus?
Michelle: I think so. As long as she has those elements. No, I don’t think that it matters. And, in fact, sometimes people prefer that they get it directly from the expert. But then others prefer that it comes from a publicist. It’s really your call. Okay? If you are using a publicist, it does communicate to the media that you have somebody who is available to them to serve them.
See, it was easier for us to book Jill. Because otherwise, she would have had to wait several hours. Because she was with patients Tuesday night. So I was able to line up everything for her, so that when she – because she was on the West Coast. So she was with clients until 7:00, her time, which was like 10:00, our time.
Michelle: Meanwhile, I had lined everything up.
Tracy: I see.
Michelle: So the plus side of actually using a publicist is that they can reply in short order, when you’re out busy doing your work, which is a huge bonus for people. And if your publicist does not respond in a quick fashion, or does not make it a priority to get back to the media in a day or two, you need to fire that publicist. I believe that vehemently. They need to get back to the media when the media needs them.
So you need to ask that, if you’re shopping around for a publicist. You need to ask them about how often they check their email, how often they check their voicemail. What do they do on the weekends? You know Oprah’s people call Friday night, because they’re setting up the next week. And they’re on Central Time.
And then New York talk shows, like Good Morning America, they’re working through the weekend. So they’re calling on a Saturday. So what are the provisions for after-hours assistance to the media? It’s very important that you get back to them. If you sit on something for more than 24 hours, you’ve lost the opportunity.
Tracy: Okay. So they responded to your email, which was kind of the bait. They were all interested in everything that you had sent. But then what were they looking for after that? What did you have ready for her? Did she have a press kit? Did she have an online press kit? What else? Or was there not enough time for them to really ask you for a bunch of other stuff on her?
Michelle: That’s a great question, and it’s really something that is also just kind of what you do first. Right? Jill already had her past media clips from Oprah and others already up on the Internet. And that’s imperative, for people to really prepare and get ready. You need to have your media clip – especially if you’re pitching broadcast TV, you need to have TV clips up.
And if you’ve not yet been on Dr. Phil, try to get on your local TV first. Try to get on cable TV. Just get your broadcast legs, so that you can actually show the top dogs what you can do. You know? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on the phone with people like The Today Show or Good Morning America, and the producer’s like, “Okay. Show me what you’ve got.”
They get so many emails. Right? I need to have an Internet link to share with them right away, and it’s got to be something that I can mention over the phone, like MichelleTennant.com/theperson’s name or whatever. I like to use PressKit247.com, because it is an online press kit switch that I can update while I’m on the phone with somebody or while I’m working with a new client.
And then I get up all the media clips and everything that I need to get an order. Or their talking points, whatever their news angle – their bio, their headshots, whatever I need to present, that would normally, years ago, have been put in a folder and mailed to them. We don’t have time for that anymore, in today’s media world; it’s instant.
So you’ve got to have all your stuff online for them to just – and the most important thing is if you’ve got a book that you’ve written, you want to make sure that the cover of your book is in a high resolution format, where they can just go on and download it. And it’s not that Web-ready format.
That’s the only thing I would do differently for Jill. Because we actually started so quickly, there was a few day delay in getting a good – we had a low res version of her book cover, but we didn’t have a high res. So if you look at the Dr. Phil segment, you’ll see that her book is grainy. Right?
Michelle: Nobody would notice that, but other publicists like me and other media please and anybody who’s in video – would notice that JPEG’s kind of grainy.
Michelle: That can be your downfall, when you actually book. People always ask me, “Well, does it really happen that quickly?” You pitch, and you wait. You pitch, and you wait. And you could be pitching up to a year and not hear anything. And then all of a sudden, when they bite, they want you that day or the next day.
Michelle: But you really do all of your media placements, everything that you’ve gotten up on the Internet, so you can show – because one of the things we always say is “media begets media.” The journalists and the producers have confidence that you can be a media spokesperson.
Michelle: Okay. So Dr. Jill – so she contacts you on a Monday, because she wants PR, probably, obviously, maybe for her book. I’m gonna try and word this just right. So as the publicist – or for anybody who’s trying to promote themselves as an expert, which really – unless Dr. Murray is doing out of the goodness of her heart, because she wanted to share with everybody across the country about domestic violence.
I mean she’s trying to sell these books. What’s the fine line that you’re walking with the producers, so that they see the pitch that you’re making, not as – “Okay. I need to get her on the show, because we’ve got books to sell”?
Tracy: But you’re actually pushing her as an expert, but yet wanting to make sure they put the picture of her book up, when there’s an opportunity to say – “Oh. Dr. Jill Murray –” For her, it just worked out nicely, because her book – is her book on domestic violence, specifically?
Michelle: It is. It is.
Tracy: So that was kind of just a nice flow. But if your expertise is a little wider, and yet you’re still trying to promote this thing that you’re trying to sell, how do you work it, so that the media is willing to do that, and give you that little plug. But yet it’s not totally self-promotion, and you don’t turn them off. You know what I’m saying?
Tracy: Right. Yeah. And I think it’s an important consideration. Because a lot of people get upset. They’re like, “Well, I’ve got this new product,” or “I’ve got a new book. And the media – they should pay attention to me. Why are they not paying attention to me?”
Well, bottom line is the media is not paid to pay attention to you, nor are they paid or have any interest in promoting your work. That’s called advertising. That’s advertising, and you pay them for air time and ink time, to actually promote your messages.
Now what they are interested in is you helping them get their job done. Now let’s just back up for a second and talk about the fine line we’re walking with domestic violence. This is a heavy, heavy breaking news topic. It affects 1 in 4 women in America – well, around the world. It is involving a beloved celebrity couple.
And Dr. Phil, in his actual program – you know we got a few people who were calling us opportunistic, that we were actually even willing to talk about it and give life to the celebrity drama.
Michelle: So again, there are those considerations. And one of the things that Dr. Phil said in his show, and I just want to underscore it, is – he’s like, “Look. The only reason why we’re actually talking about this is that Chris Brown and Rhianna are bringing it on themselves. They’re actually interacting with the media about it.” I mean they’re doing a tour together. They’re embracing the public aspect of it. That’s why everybody’s talking about it.
I, personally, really feel motivated every morning to make a difference with the media that we actually see. I really want positive stories. I kind of pride myself on being a goodwill megaphone, and I only take on clients who make a difference in the world. So I’m not gonna actually push any talking points that don’t make a difference.
Jill was really interested in assisting people who are suffering from domestic violence, first. She actually had the books out there. But she self-published, believe it or not. And people like Oprah, and other media who had found out about her work one-on-one with clients, encouraged her to write a book.
So her book is not even her primary focus. She’s selling books. But it wasn’t her primary focus. Her primary focus is really the one-on-one work she does with couples in Orange County. So how you handle that is you first offer the media your expert commentary, something that actually helps educate the public at large about the particular issue.
So in the media, we talk problems. And then you come at it with a solution. Okay. There’s a problem called “domestic violence” in our culture. “Here are some solutions, people. Blah, blah, blah. Notice when you’re in the violence cycle. Are you in the honeymoon phase?”
There are all kinds of cycles that women and men go through, when they’re in the middle of that drama between – the energy flow between a couple that’s experiencing that, and what happens in a particular relationship. So you can help educate the media to talk about that and solutions.
So we were really committed that shows like Dr. Phil and Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell – they need to communicate about this news, because it is a celebrity piece of news. But how can you enhance what they’re talking about, so that it actually leaves people with something to take action on, or to further understand a difficult topic in our society.
Michelle: You need to help them with that. And then when you’re on-air, rather than saying, “Well, you can come see me at my office in Orange County in California, or you can come buy my book,” which is not gonna happen – they’re not gonna ask you back, if you do that. You can be gracious enough by saying –
Right? That’s not gonna happen. But you could say things like – “For example, one of the things that I experienced with my one-on-one – you know I was counseling a couple last week, one-on-one. And a bit of advice I gave him was blah, blah, blah.” Right? So you’re actually talking about what you do as a living.
Now if you have seminars that you’re promoting, you might say, “In the seminars that I teach, blah, blah, blah.” Right? As you’re educating people, you’re adding credibility to who you are by explaining how you actually work with people.
Or you might say, “Well, one of the chapters of my book actually goes over the three cycles of violence. And let me outline them right now. Blah, blah, blah.”
Michelle: And you can also ask the producers: what are they comfortable with? I like to offer articles. Because everybody’s got a website today. So if you’re a TV show, you also need content for your website. If you’re a radio show – like Mystique is on the phone with us today, and she’s got a radio show – there are people who actually need content, not only on-air with you, but also on their website, so that people can access information after the show.
And that’s also an excellent way to promote yourself, without being overly promotional and turning the media off.
Tracy: Okay. So that sort of leads to another little question that you kind of touched on a little bit. But when you have landed something really big, like a Dr. Phil – and I know you didn’t have a whole lot of time to work with Dr. Murray – but how do you prepare? How do you prepared for something that huge, that opportunity?
Michelle: Yes. And even though we do things at a rapid pace, I always like to do some media prep. What you want to do is you actually want to practice. So with Dr. Phil, it was in an hour show, so she didn’t have to really have everything be very succinct in four minutes. But most TV shows, like Good Morning America or The Today Show – they’re only gonna give you a four-minute segment.
And people always go, “Oh my God. Four minutes? That’s no time at all. Why do I even want to fly to New York for that?” Well, guess what? Every segment that you see is four minutes. And so at first, it feels like it’s very quick. But after you become an expert at doing media spots, four minutes – you usually have extra time, if you’re sound biting yourself very well.
So, for example, I was preparing a guy to do WGN Super Station. He’s got a spot on Monday. And he’s just an expert. He’s the number one selling real estate author in the country. Like even Donald Trump says, “What is this guy doing?” Right? He had a hard website. Right? How do you think you spell this? DeanGraziosi.com. How do you spell that? Right?
Michelle: So that was one of things that I switched. I said, “Why don’t you use something simple like TipsfromDean.com? Everybody can spell that. Right? It’s easy to spell. You can check him out online while we’re talking. But he’s gonna go on. And one of the things that he normally does is infomercials about how to invest in real estate.
And that’s what his books are all about, and that’s really his claim to fame. The media doesn’t care about that. The media doesn’t really care about investing real estate. But what they do care about is: how do you advise people today who are in crisis over their home, that are in crisis over their real estate? Or they’re just trying to get by, but they’re trying to really make sense of what Uncle Sam is doing with mortgages and the banks and so forth.
So he’s gonna go on-air and talk about that. The first time we did the four-minute run-through, he had so much information, it was difficult to actually get all of that great information in four minutes. But then we actually did a follow-up session earlier this week. Actually, I think it was Monday. Nailed it great. Four minutes with 30 seconds to spare. That’s really where you want to – and anybody can do that with you.
It doesn’t have to be a publicist who charges 0.00 an hour. Some of them do for media training. Some of the top ones that we work with get that type of compensation, because they’re just so good at working with you to prepare you for the top shows.
But if you don’t have that type of money, and you still have an opportunity to be on TV, you can actually set a timer, and have somebody in your life interview you. Pretend to be a TV anchor for four minutes.
Michelle: The other way to actually prepare is to talk to children. Like if it’s a fifth-grader – I love to use fifth-graders, because if you are terrible, they’ll tell you.
And then you just give your fifth-grader, or a fifth-grader that you know, a pretend microphone and say, “Here. Interview me.” Stick on the camera. See what you look like. Then you can actually see for yourself. Do you look like your favorite anchor? If the answer is no, then tweak it.
So model your favorite people. Dress like them. You’ve got to go through the normal things like – no stripes, no patterns, no blacks, no whites. You want a nice, bright color. I always say bring an extra, just in case you match the set.
Michelle: One time a client showed up and was wearing the same thing that the anchor was wearing.
Tracy: Oh wow.
Michelle: You know like that nightmare? You go to a party, and the other hot chick is wearing your outfit?
Yeah. One of those.
Michelle: And she said, “Thank God I brought an extra.” I’m like – “See?”
Michelle: That’s how you prepare. And you can dump a lot of money into having media prep. I’d be happy to take your money and media prep you. I’m happy to do that. You can go to PublicityResults.com and schedule some time with my team, and I’ll media train you, and we’ll charge you for that.
But you don’t have to. Get your family and friends. Set up a camera. Here’s what I will say. Okay? Just like a ballerina – you know when a ballerina turns in circles?
Michelle: Okay. When you’re on camera, it’s just like being on stage, and you want to focus on one spot. And my recommendation is to focus on the person you’re talking to. Nothing else. Don’t look at the sets falling down. Don’t look at the grip guy running in the background. Just keep your eyes focused on the host, or the person asking you the question.
Or if it’s a camera, just focus on the camera. Just like a ballerina has a spot, you need a spot. And you’ll be fine. You might be stiff. You might look terrible. But you can always tweak that, as you get more and more used to doing camera work.
Michelle: And of course Dr. Murray, at this point, had been proven, so she didn’t need that type of coaching. And when you’re seasoned, the type of coaching that you need is just to true up the messages that you’re going to give the public, and how they actually interact, then, with who you are in the world at large. And who she is, is a domestic violence expert.
So that’s how we prepped for Dr. Phil, is – what’s in her book that would make the most impact for the public at large?
Tracy: Okay. I have one more question.
Michelle: Great. And then we’ll open it up to other people on the phone.
Tracy: Okay. Cool. What if I wasn’t the fabulous Michelle Tennant Nicholson, and sent out that first email, and it didn’t get a response as quickly as yours did. Or maybe it was a fabulous pitch, but it just – they got 1,000 emails, and they just skipped over yours somehow.
How would you handle that? How often would you make a pitch to the Dr. Phil show, where they weren’t like – “Gosh, this person is really annoying. You know? I’m getting this every day.” You know what I’m saying?
Michelle: Yeah. Well, you want to make sure that you’re maximizing all opportunities, not just email. You know?
Michelle: You can follow up with a phone call, but good luck getting through.
You can also go to the website, and actually put a little note on the website. You could also mail a note or mail the communication that way.
Michelle: And if you really feel – I think that seven’s the charm. If you’ve communicated seven times, and you still haven’t gotten a response, it means that your pitch sucks.
Michelle: I guess that’s a strong word. Okay?
I would say that it just wasn’t a fit.
Michelle: Because look – Dr. Phil took this pitch, but Ellen didn’t. Does it mean that Ellen thinks that the pitch sucked? Probably not. Ellen just couldn’t use it. It wasn’t a fit. The timing wasn’t right. So does that mean that I’m never gonna pitch Ellen again?
No. It just means that I keep pitching in a different way. Do you ever call and say, “Did you get my pitch?” Please don’t do that to the media. They don’t have time for that. Please don’t do that.
Michelle: Just give ’em another pitch. Look. They have 1,500 emails coming in three hours for some of the top shows. Look. They have something that we’ve never had before, called a “search function.” You don’t think that I hear from people a year later about pitches I’ve done a year ago?
Michelle: They just go in there, and they go “domestic violence.” And then they see everybody who comes up, and then they start calling.
Tracy: I got you.
Michelle: If it looks like a pitch. And that’s the thing. There’s a new service, I’m not sure if people know about. It’s called PitchRate.com. And it’s free.
Michelle: The media – they make requests every day, and they say, “Here’s what I need.” You know? “I’m doing a story on domestic violence. I need a psychotherapist to answer blah, blah, blah.”
Michelle: Or it’s a lighter topic, like – “I’m creating an article on family vacations, and I need some fun travel spots.” With things like PitchRate.com – and there are other types of services that you can pay for, that are free, that are similar to PitchRate.com. But you can then actually get in a relationship and pitch people and continue to get out there.
Look. I’ve been working on Dr. Phil for many, many years. You don’t think I’ve sent probably thousands of pitches over there? I can’t even imagine how many my team has done. And I got one, and that was my first foot in the door with them.
Michelle: So it’s not a matter of they’re not interested, or you’re striking out. Like a lot of people kind of think, “Oh God. They just never took me –” No. You weren’t a fit, for some reason. Either they weren’t working on that topic you were pitching. Or something about your platform wasn’t attractive.
Maybe your TV clips were not professional enough for them to approve you to come in for a second – they did do pre-interviews, by the way, with Dr. Murray.
Michelle: One of the things that they had to do, even though she was proven on TV – they talk to you. They will say, “Before we have you come on, we’re gonna have a pre-interview and talk to you.” Same thing happens with Oprah, Good Morning America, and so forth.
So that’s got to be set up. And it is not a chat. It is not a casual chat. They’re testing to see if what you’re saying is actually a fit for the segment that they’re producing. That’s what they’re testing.
Michelle: These frontline producers answer to an executive producer, so they have to cross all their T’s and dot all of their I’s on the experts and the profile people that they bring to them. And the other thing that Jill can do, that I really recommend to people is: gather up some success stories, or people that you work, with or profile families. You know?
People that can help the media tell the story at large. And that’s a resource. Then you become a source for the media. And that’s really what they need to get their job done. And that’s how you’ll then be included in their stories and segments and articles.
Tracy: Okay. Thanks, Michelle.
Michelle: Was it helpful? Tracy, did you learn something new?
Tracy: Yes. Yes. I’ve been taking notes.
Michelle: Okay. Good.
Like when you’re doing follow up for Yum Yum Dishes and so forth, the most important thing is research right now on portion control.
Michelle: When I think about your platform and who you are, the biggest thing that the media needs to know is: when people actually cut their portions and control their portions, what research out there and statistics show about people with the ability to maintain a healthy weight.
You see? Then you become the source for that. And then they can actually say, “Tracy Adler, creator of Yum Yum Dishes, says –”
Michelle: And I know you’ve been in Health Magazine and Shape and some other biggies – Spirituality & Health and so forth. And as I recall, that’s exactly how you got in those magazines, is by becoming a health resource for those people.
Tracy: Right. Cool. Alright. Thanks, Michelle.
Michelle: Yeah. You’re welcome. And we still have time for questions and answers from the people who are on the phone with us. So if you would like to ask a question about getting on Dr. Phil, CNN, and Jane Velez-Mitchell, hit *6, and you can ask me those questions.
I will say this cool thing about Dr. Murray, that came about after getting her booked on Dr. Phil – by the very next afternoon, we had her on CNN and also Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell. And the producer over at Issues said, “I really need a source like this on a regular basis. Could Dr. Murray come in the future?”
So she’s gonna now have a regular spot. So that’s when you’re building relationships and being available – you know it could turn into a regular spot, where you’re being a regular source for people. Who has a question?
Donna: I’d like to ask a question. This is Donna Berry from Inkspot PR.
Donna: Hi. I wanted to know your thoughts on using Twitter as a way to get in front of producers of these shows and really just – and journalists in general. But we’re talking Dr. Phil and CNN right now. So do you think it works?
Michelle: I do, Donna. We just had an interaction with Oprah last week for a client, who was actually in Chicago. And I had been interacting with a producer via email. And I just wanted to do that little extra touch, so I looked for her on the social networking sites, and found her on LinkedIn. And just sent her a little love note via LinkedIn and said, “By the way, don’t forget my client’s in town. Here’s his cell phone number.” And she called it.
Michelle: Yeah. And they like a little handshake outside Harpo Studios. He’s not on-air yet. But you know, as a publicist yourself, that’s something that’s important to build the relationship. You know?
And I’ll tell you, Dr. Murray’s been a pro herself. She’s taken it upon herself – not only have I sent thank you’s to these producers, but she’s done the same. She sent an email thank you. And really just treating people human. You know? Building those personal relationships and treating them well. Being a service.
And I think that the opportunity with Twitter, and the opportunity with Facebook and MySpace and LinkedIn – the list goes on and on and on. It’s just another way to really network and keep people in touch with you. And so I would say just like anything, you want to make sure you’re being of service to people, not being overly promotional.
We all hate the over-promoters. And look, I’m a publicist. So have I ever been called a braggart or somebody that’s been overdoing it? Tracy can tell you – yes, I have crossed that line before.
However, I say that’s what makes me a good publicist. But in the end, you want to be sensitive to that too. When you’re interacting with these reporters on a social networking site, ask yourself: are you being of service to them in what they’re working on? Or are you shoving your product and your book and your service down their throat?
And they don’t care. You know? It’s mostly like – “Hey, Donna. I saw your segment the other day on Music in Today’s Culture.” Or something like that. You know? Google ’em. See what they’re doing, and then take a personal interest, and then go at it from that way.
Or if you’re reading O Magazine, and you’ve got your favorite freelancer or staff writer, refer to their recent article, if you can. Just so that you show – “Hey, I know you’re a person.”
We had a New York Times writer a year or year-and-a-half ago on the Wasabi Club, talking about: is it okay to send form pitches, those pitches that everybody gets, but it says “Hey, Donna” at the top? Which is essentially what my Dr. Phil pitch was. Right?
And she’s like, “You know what? I know everybody does it. And I use ’em. I read those. But every once in a while, it’s also nice to get that personal touch.” So my formula would be: go ahead and get the information out in your form letter. Fine. We all have to do it.
But when you actually have them on the phone, when you actually have them on a social networking site, that’s the time to really shine and do that extra little personal pizzazz with them. “Hey, Donna. I think you’re the greatest.” You know? And then just give a little warm and fuzzy. It makes a difference.
Have you been using social networking sites, Donna?
Donna: I’m starting to explore using Twitter, mostly. I’m a Facebook person. But I’ve kind of found out – I think Facebook seems to be more of a personal thing, although I do use it, every once in a while, professionally to look for subjects, if I need somebody for a story or something like that.
Donna: But for Twitter, what I’m finding is sometimes I’ll start – if I find people, and I start following them, sometimes they’ll follow me back, if they know that I’m covering a certain area that they might be interested in. And I find that really interesting.
And I know other people here – I also happen to live in San Francisco, and I think Twitter is just hugely pervasive here, maybe more so than it might be in some other areas of the country.
Donna: So I wouldn’t say I’ve got a huge network on Twitter. But that’s what I’m kind of working on building, and just wanted to know if anybody else had been successful in basically landing a pitch via Twitter.
Michelle: To be honest with you, I’ve just been using it for the personal touch and the follow up, not the initial knock on the door.
Michelle: But I have a feeling we’ve not seen it really at its peak yet – especially Twitter.
Michelle: And I think it’s gonna get more intense for us as publicists. I think that for a while there, for many years, a lot of publicists – they were using the old school methods, just your straight up press release and then a press kit via mail. And that is now obsolete.
And then what overtook them was basically an email pitch and a phone call. Right? And now really what’s being nudged out, and I think we’re gonna see it through the next few years – what’s gonna happen is we’re gonna probably see more people using social network, and less email. Right?
So rather than a phone call, I’m actually – I’m getting more attention sometimes when I contact people through the social networking site, versus a phone, believe it or not.
Donna: Hmm. Interesting.
Michelle: It is. I don’t think we’ve quite yet seen it shift. Those of us who are smart marketers are using social networking sites. But I think it’s also kind of those old rules of: “Hey, Donna. What do you prefer?”
Because there are those of us who are email queens, like me. And then there are those that are phone kings, like my business partner. And he hates email; he’d rather be called. And the media’s no different. It’s also like what generation you are. Are you a Baby Boomer or a GenXer or a Millennial?
By far, if you’ve got a young journalist that you’re working with – which most of us old farts are now dealing with the frontline producers, who are just getting out of college – they’re gonna prefer social networking. They’re not gonna prefer the phone.
Because that’s where they’ve been raised. They’ve been raised in a social networking environment. And GenXers, like me – I like email. But if you talk to a Baby Boomer – I’m gonna tell people how old you are, Tracy.
Tracy: Thanks, Michelle.
Michelle: It’s more the Baby Boomers –
She prefers the phone. Right, Tracy?
Tracy: Signing off now.
So it’s just who we are personally, and what we prefer. And I think that’s also – once you get in a relationship with these media – I like to tell people, just like business professionals like Tracy, set a realistic goal of 25 to 50 media contacts a year. Nurture those.
And then in five years, you’ve got a great little media database in your back pocket, where the media know you and the issues that you’re committed to, the things that you can speak expertly about. And you feed them your tidbits of information and your trends and the things that you’re seeing. And then that’s all you really need to do as a business professional.
And if you don’t have time to do that directly yourself, then hire a publicist like Donna or myself. Hire someone to build those relationships over time, and feed the tidbits of news over time. So great. Thanks for that question, Donna. That’s a great question.
Michelle: Anybody else? Or Donna, if you had more comments about that. I don’t mean to cut you off.
Donna: No. No. I think you’re right. I think it’s an interesting observation about social networking. And I do feel like – I totally agree with you. I think that is gonna become much more of a force, especially as – like you pointed out – the younger generation’s coming out and getting into the workforce. And they communicate in a very different way.
Donna: Although I am still a big believer in the phone too. I just booked a media tour for a client of mine, and I would not have booked my media tour nearly as successfully, had not gotten on the phone and reached people directly. So –
Michelle: Yeah. I don’t think anything will ever – it’s just like saying, “Dial and smile.” You know? There’s nothing like face-to-face. And there’s nothing like dial and smile. Like when you get somebody on the phone, and you’re connecting, that’s all she wrote. You know?
Donna: Yeah. Yeah.
Michelle: Well, great. We’ve got just a few more minutes before we end this call. Are there any other questions about booking Dr. Phil or CNN or social networking? What’s on people’s minds today? Star 6 to mute yourself, or to un-mute yourself. Okay. Well, I guess we have no more questions. I know there are people out there.
Is there somebody there? I bet there’s somebody who can’t figure out how to un-mute.
And then I hear from ’em after the call, and they’re like, “I was trying to say something, and you couldn’t hear me.” Well, that’s it. That was a lot of information condensed in a short amount of time. So if you do have questions, and you’re having trouble with your own technology today, you can email me. Okay?
Some people just – they like email. They like phone. Whatever. I’ll give you both. How about this? So Michelle@PublicityResults.com. And, of course, my blog is StorytellertotheMedia.com. And on the 411 page of my blog is all my social networking links, my phone numbers, my different email addresses, my website, all that good stuff.
So if you remember nothing other than StorytellertotheMedia.com, go to that, and then click on the 411 page. And if you’re nosey, and you want to see who I’m representing today, at this current time, in the bottom right-hand corner of the – on the right-hand navigational bar, you’ll see all my current clients and the campaigns that I’m pitching right now.
And I just want to thank Donna. I want to thank Tracy. And I want to thank everybody else who was on the call today. And for those of you who are listening to this recording in the future, Dr. Phil and CNN and all of the people who are working there are people just like us. And they’re just trying to do a good job. They’re trying to do a good job for their bosses, and for the public that they serve.
And if you want to assist them, that’s how you actually get booked on those shows. And it’s not really rocket science. But it is something that entails you taking personal attention in developing those relationships.
Remember. I always says, “It’s not just who you know. It’s also who knows about you.” So meet a few new people today. Meet a few new media members, and see if you can’t assist a reporter, and try to get them to use you as a source now and in the future.
And what we’re gonna be doing – we’re gonna have another one of these calls the same time next month – and in April. It’s going to land on April 29th at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. And we will also have a recording for those of you who can’t make the time slot during the business hours. So thanks, and talk to you in the cyber world. Bye-bye.
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L. Drew Gerber is CEO of Blue Kangaroo, Inc. and creator of www.PitchRate.com, a no-charge media tool that moves the best interviews to the front of the line for journalists and producers. Gerber’s business practices and staffing innovations have been revered by PR Week, Good Morning America and the Christian Science Monitor. His companies handle international PR campaigns and his staff develops online press kits for authors, speakers and companies with PressKit 24/7, a technology he developed (www.PressKit247.com). Contact L. Drew Gerber at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 828-749-3182.