By Marsha Friedman
You may have heard this said over and over – but it’s a fact: Talk radio is a great avenue for getting your message in front of a wide audience. With such an abundance of shows airing on terrestrial stations, online stations and satellite radio, and covering such a wide range of topics, you’re sure to find many that will be a good match for your message.
So how do you get on the air? Here are six tips designed to get you talking:
1. Tie Your Message to Current Hot News. First and foremost, you need to follow the news. What are people talking about? What are the media saying? What’s the buzz?
Keeping up with the news is important because talk radio is all about current events. When you know what’s current, you can package your message to fit the news – making you an attractive guest for a talk show. Your job is to scan the network and cable news channels, the newspapers, look at news Web sites, and, most important, monitor the talk radio landscape.
As you follow the hottest stories in the news, think of ways you can relate your product or service to them. Look for controversy or big names, big money or even relationship issues – these are always tantalizing topics for talk show hosts and their listeners.
2. Never Pitch Yourself or Your Product. The pitch letter to radio hosts and producers should focus on the issue about which you are an expert, or the problem which your product addresses.
Radio hosts are interested in what you can do to inform and entertain their listeners, not what the host can do for you. Your credibility and expertise in your field is important, but it’s secondary to the topic you’ll be discussing. Pitch the segment, not yourself, and you’ll be on the same page as the host.
3. Write a Kick-Ass Pitch. The quality of your pitch will have everything to do with your success in getting booked as a talk radio guest. You want to make sure your headline is enticing – it’s got to grab the media’s attention.
The text of your release should elaborate on the subject matter and what the “on-air” conversation will be about. It’s always good to include five to 10 questions you’d like the host to ask you and a short, but impressive bio.
4. Find Contact Info for Shows. These days most stations have Web sites listing all their shows. Look for a “Contact Us” page – in many cases the e-mail address and phone number for the show producers will be right on that page.
If that doesn’t produce results, find the station’s phone number on their Web site and call them, explaining that you would like to contact the show’s producer to suggest a segment. Ask them for his e-mail address and the best phone number for following up – they will give this to you since this is how producers find guests and content for shows.
5. Personalize and Send Your Pitch. Do not send your pitch as an attachment to your e-mail message – copy the pitch right into the body of the e-mail instead. At the top, add a very brief note to the producer or host (sometimes they are one and the same) to introduce your pitch.
Your introduction should tell the producer why you think your topic would be a great fit for his show or why you think his audience would be interested in what you have to say. The producer is far more likely to respond favorably to your proposal when he can readily see that you’ve done your homework.
6. Follow Up After You Send Your Pitch. After you email your pitch, call the producer to ask if he received it, or has any questions. If you get him on the phone, this is your opportunity to expand on your pitch and really sell him on what a great show it would be and how much it would interest his audience.
Yes, that’s a lot to chew on, but if you truly do each of these steps it will get you and your message on the air.
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Marsha Friedman is a 20-year veteran of the public relations industry. She is the CEO of EMSI Public Relations, a national firm that provides PR strategy and publicity services to corporations, entertainers, authors and professional firms. She also hosts a national weekly radio talk show, The Family Round Table, and is author of the book, Celebritize Yourself. So, you wanna be a guest on talk radio? She shows you how in this month’s Megaphone section. Visit www.emsincorporated.com
Editor’s note: This article appears in the October 2010 print edition.