It is estimated that everyday, more than 10,200 guests appear on approximately 6,000 radio talk or interview shows across America. In addition, there are about 988 TV shows to consider for interview possibilities. Ninety-four percent of the guests are authors who do not have recognizable names. Radio and television talk shows need interesting guests to attract listeners and viewers. Authors are interesting people. The general public think that authors are experts and celebrities.
Why do radio talk shows to promote yourself or service?
Talkers Magazine describes the average talk radio listener:
If you are available to do interviews with the media to promote your book or speaking business, the following checklist will prove helpful. Always remember, while you are there to promote your stuff, you must also provide entertaining content for the radio audience. Talk show hosts will seldom invite you back if you do not first have their audience in mind. In other words. . . your book will get you on, then you must have something interesting to say that is unique, controversial or fascinating (besides an occasional mention of your book).
Here are a few bits of info that you must get before your interview that will prove to be invaluable during and after the interview:
Smooze with the receptionist. On one occasion I was having trouble getting the producer to return my call. After several conversations with the receptionist we were getting to be good friends. I sent her a signed copy of my book and hinted at passing it by the producer. The day after she received it the producer called and booked me as a guest.
If you cannot get a positive response after the 5th or 6th call, give it up, shout, "Next!" and call someone else.
Producer's name. The producer usually books the show, however you should try to
talk to the host if at all possible to get a feel for how the interview will go.
Best time to call the producer if not in?
Radio station call letters, i.e., WOR, KXAM, WLW.
Frequency of the station, i.e., FM 96, 1020 AM, Power 92.
Their complete address
Office phone number
Emergency phone number. Keep this handy in case they or you cannot get through on their regular phone line.
This is very important: Will they call you or will you be calling them? What phone number? Be sure the producer has your direct phone number and be sure you know exactly when they will be calling you or if you will be calling them. Generally speaking the producer will call you.
Host's name. Will there be more than one? Verify spelling and pronunciation. It is also a good idea to have this in front of you during the interview so you can refer to the show and to the host(s) by name. Mentioning the city occasionally is good.
Listen during the commercial breaks for jargon, things that trigger thoughts, or anything that will help the listeners relate to you better. Keep a pencil handy to jot down this info.
When I hear a major book store commercial, when the interview continues I will usually say, "I'm happy to know that Barnes & Noble (or whoever) is a sponsor of the Paul Gonzales Show. Your listeners can find my books there."
Type of programing, i.e., music (rock & roll, jazz,
easy listening, country) & talk, or only talk radio.
Demographics, e.g., audience mix; 25 to 34, female, etc.
Date of interview
Time of show, i.e., 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., etc. Your time or their time zone?
Length of interview
EXACT time of the interview. EST, CST, PST, MST, etc.
Be sure to get the host's e-mail address.
Website. Exploring their website can help you to get to know the host(s), format and more. If you really want to impress them, bring up an issue from their city that relates to your topic.
Will there be call-ins? Are you willing to take call-ins? Talk about this in advance.
Ask if it is okay to give your 800 number, web site, e-mail, etc. I say it this way, "It's okay to give my 800 number isn't it?" Most will say yes, and if they forget, remember to mention it.
Would the host like several books to give away prior to or during the show? I often will offer a book or two to give away. I ask them to send me the winner's name, address and phone number by e-mail.
I personally sign the book and mail it to the winner. I make a note of which book they won and add them to my mailing list. When I mail the book, I include information about other books, cassettes, video, seminars, etc.
Would the host like to have a prerecorded promo for use before the show? You can do this on the telephone.
What to send to the Host:
Be Prepared - Have your cheat-sheet with your keywords and book(s) in front of you. Be sure to have answers (sound bites) written out for the sample questions you sent the host. Most radio interviews are by telephone. If you go to the studio, take your stuff with you! Read How to Be a Great Radio Guest!.
Check Out the Host - Before appearing on a radio interview, check out the radio station's website. You may be able to view a picture of the host, a bio, listener info and more, all of which will help you sound like you're a long-time listener, even though you've never heard the show. If the website features audio streaming you may be able to listen to the show before your appearance. The more comfortable you sound with the host, their format and their listeners, the better the interview and the more likely you will be invited back.
You can use the Radio Locator to locate all of the radio stations near a U.S. city.
Be sure to mention the station's call letters when you are on the air. Also call the host by name several times during the interview. Write it down so you get it right.
Always say your best stuff first. A special "Thank You" to my good friend, Gregory J.P. Godek, for this excellent tip. This is very important. If you don't, you may not have a chance to get your message across later. Do your best to bring up things in your answers to questions that lead the host to ask you questions about what you want to talk about. Since most radio interviews are on the telephone, you will find that it helps to have several key words written in front of you.
Referrals: If you know other speakers or authors who would be a good fit for the show you were on, refer your friends to the host, then call your friends and give them the referral. In your "thank you" to the host, include their names and phone numbers.
If the interview went well, ask for a letter of praise from the host.
IMPORTANT: If your book is not ready for you to send to those who want it or if it is not already in the book stores when you have the interview... You are wasting your time and energy and allowing your ego to rule. Save it for later is a better idea.
The more experience you gain from interviews, the more selective you can become in choosing the stations you would like to be on. In the beginning I was always ready when anyone called regardless of whether the station was "right" for me. That's one of the reasons I developed this checklist.
Remember that the length of an interview has nothing to do with its impact. Many people feel that short interviews don't pay off, while longer interviews do. Keep in mind that whatever length the interview, the host and the audience are accustomed to that format. They "will" get something out of the interview as long as you are prepared.
In sales it is important to qualify the buyer. I believe it is equally important to find out as much about the station, their format, the hosts, the music (if any) before you say yes. At first it may be difficult to say no. After you have gone through this checklist with them, if it doesn't feel right, have the courage to say no.
Always send them a "Thank you" for having you on their show, preferably using your book cover as a postcard. This gesture helps you "stand out" from all the rest. It had helped me to get repeat interviews; one station. . . five appearances!
And finally. . .
after the interview always call the station's receptionist to provide information about
your book, because listeners who don't remember your name or your book's
title may call the station for additional information. The receptionist is the first
and very often the only person the listener will ever reach. Ask for the fax number and
fax a full information sheet with your name, book title, phone number, Website and complete
Find Out More...
This article is available for reprint provided that the author's byline, bio and copyright statement are included and the article is unaltered.