Do you have a
practice that could use a boost? One of the best ways to get new
clients is to receive positive exposure in newspapers, television and
radio. Perhaps you are excited about this idea and willing to act on
it, but have no history of working with the media and don't know how
The great news
is this: the media is looking for you! Newspapers, magazines,
television and radio shows have a consistent number of pages or
airtime minutes that must be filled daily, weekly or on some
scheduled basis, regardless of what is or isn't going on in the
world. As a former correspondent and feature interviewer for several
newspapers, I remember the rare thank-you one of my editors once
wrote to me after I'd handed in a good article. The note said, "I
appreciate and applaud your writing skills. The story you wrote was
excellent. More importantly, it exactly fit the space I needed to fill!"
newspapers, television and radio shows would prefer to fill their
space with something both meritorious and fascinating enough to seize
the public's attention. What better topic than your practice?
Most of us are
not going to be the subject of a feature interview in the New York
Times Sunday Magazine, have our work reviewed on NPR's "All
Things Considered," or find ourselves as featured guests on Oprah!
The good news is that nearly every community throughout the world has
its own newspapers, TV and radio stations, and they are constantly on
the lookout for material that will excite and inform the public. In
other words, they are on the lookout for YOU!
cities have smaller neighborhood venues. These media outlets are much
more approachable than one might imagine. Think about it. They have
to be open in order to get ideas. Who would ever call a newspaper or
a TV station with a hot lead if the person who answered the phone was
cold and rejecting?!
What turns the
media on? Answer: A story that is newsworthy or entertaining,
especially one with an angle! Presenting yourself as the motivation
expert who coached the local high school basketball team for sports
success, or as the massage artist who volunteers her gifts at the
local children's cancer ward, offers a much more interesting hook
than a rambling dissertation on why you think your particular skill
or offering is beneficial.
tend to be very community-minded, so anything that serves your local
area is of special interest, such as the free stress-reduction
sessions you are offering to employees of the town's shopping mall or
the healing workshop you are giving as a fundraiser for the local
Hot clue: The
best way to get into the media is to publicize an event! Events that
are both open to the public and free are almost certain to get media
attention, and are a great boost to our profession. (If you plan such
an event, make sure that it is truly free and not just a marketing
lure to get folks to buy an expensive seminar or back-of-the-room
products; such schemes could quickly tarnish your reputation.)
What turns the
media off? 1.) An advertisement masquerading as an informative
article, or 2.) a blatantly self-promoting individual or business who
turns into a pest. Newspapers, radio and television make money
selling ads. They are keenly aware of promotional material or
advertisements purporting to be real news.
thinking of writing a column about your particular skill or product
for your local paper? You might think again. According to Robert
Cloud, editor of The County Post, a newspaper in Waupaca, Wisconsin,
the least likely way to get something published in a newspaper is to
propose a column.
Why? A column,
says Cloud, demands the guarantee of a regular allotment of space,
something editors are not keen to grant. Another reason has to do
with ability. "Most people really don't know how to write a
column," says the editor.
He relates how
would-be columnists have approached him with grandiose propositions,
but with no professional writing background or even samples to show.
(Being self-published is not, to most newspaper editors, an indicator
that a person has writing skills.) "What prospective columnists
often do is express a bunch of their personal feelings, but they
don't have a single fact in the entire thing. So what's the point of
brighter side, he states, "If someone turned in an article to me
on a subject like hypnosis that was well written, that was factual
and that I didn't have to write myself, it would be great! An editor
with a small staff loves to get stuff that he doesn't have to write
himself. I don't write most of the health news that I publish."
that prospective writers familiarize themselves with the rules of
grammar, punctuation, spelling and paragraphing. The article should
include both statistics as well as the sources of those statistics,
which must be reliable and verifiable. Cloud warns that editors are
wary of information which comes from the internet, "because the
internet has no gatekeepers."
submitting an article to a newspaper, Cloud recommends finding a
literate and honest friend to review the article first. He adds with
a smile that the person should probably not be the writer's mother.
newspapers and even some television stations will almost certainly
run an announcement of your free event, and if it seems interesting
enough, they might even send a reporter to cover it.
according to Cloud, submitting an announcement for an event is the
very best way to get something in the newspaper. He offers this
advice: "When sending in announcements, you need to say in the
very first paragraph Who, What, Where and When. It absolutely has to
have those things. The fact is, most people don't get past the first
paragraph or two when they read their newspapers.
say there's going to be a demonstration of hypnosis in a local
school," he continues. "You need to include:
Who is doing it?
What are they doing?
When? Give the
that the introductory paragraph in an announcement should be about 16
words long. The second and third paragraphs should be brief and have
some description of what is going to be happening, such as, "Bea
Crystal will demonstrate hypnosis on audience volunteers." The
last paragraph should contain the credentials of the person giving
against using flowery language in articles or announcements, writing
in the first or second person, ("You are invited to my
seminar," or "Hypnosis is great! I really love it,")
or putting in unattributed quotes ("As one client said, 'I
really love hypnosis.'")
short and to the point," he says. "You're more likely to
get it in the paper if it's short than if it's long."
similarly will generally announce an event which is free and of
community interest, although their coverage will probably be briefer
than that in a newspaper.
April Hall, a
producer at WFRV-TV, a CBS affiliate in Green Bay, Wisconsin,
suggests that to get an event on television, one can either call or
send story ideas to the station.
an assignment editor who reviews press releases, faxes and
e-mails," she says. Reiterating Cloud's advice, she adds, "A
person sending a press release is always asked to include who, what,
when and where; all the information should be in the first paragraph.
cover it if it's not really affecting anyone, if it doesn't have a
large turn-out, if it's non-visual, or if it lacks taste," says
Hall. "What we will cover is something that has visual interest,
anything that's new, that's exciting-anything that could keep our
newspapers, TV shows and radio stations have regular interview
segments, and that is an excellent way to receive media attention.
Before consenting to an interview, however, consider the venue
carefully and become acquainted with the format. Be wary of any
interviewer who might have an interest in bashing your chosen venue.
Such shows can be both seductive and deceptive!
Last year I
was among several well known hypnotists charmingly courted by
producers to be interviewed on a TV show called Bull____!.
Having some knowledge of how the hosts of this show had risen to
infamy by breaking the magician's code and revealing secrets of
magic, I was forewarned that this was not a show on which I would
ever want to appear--and even if it weren't for that, the name of the
show was a pretty good tip-off! Not all shows will reveal their
intent as obviously as this one.
venue is honest and has met with your approval. If you are glib and
good at ad-libbing on the spot, a live call-in radio show might be
just the ticket for you. Are you pretty? TV is visual, and like it or
not, producers prefer attractive and trim people. For television, you
also need to be able to respond rapidly without appearing flustered,
and to condense your information into brief sound bites. Newspaper
interviews can handle slower, more thoughtful responses; the better
your language skills, the better you will look in print.
Just how does
one get the media to interview you? I have been interviewed on
television, in newspapers and on radio shows. In each instance, I did
not call them. They called me and solicited the interview. I have
also been on the other side of the fence as an interviewer. For
several years, I wrote a syndicated interview series, and during this
time I was constantly on the look-out for interesting people to
feature. I welcomed telephone calls and letters recommending likely
candidates. I was skeptical and put off, however, whenever people
contacted me to nominate themselves for an interview.
recommendation for those who would enjoy being interviewed would be
this: call some articulate clients or friends who genuinely love you
and your work, and ask them to suggest your name to newspaper, radio
and television interviewers. If you have a niche that might be of
interest, such as past-life regression or working with pregnant moms,
make sure they mention that.
Be savvy and
smart about the media, and remember: they are looking for you!
Elizabeth Raines, Certified Instructor of Hypnotherapy