Oprah is great, but my goal is to get the opportunity to teach Ellen a new dance. I’m not famous and my book isn’t a bestseller (yet), but in preparation for that eventuality, I figured it was time to kick my media game up a notch and learn what it takes to get booked and be a great guest, so I can get my message out there.
I signed up for a three-day workshop, Excellence in Media: The Language of Impact, hosted by Joel Roberts. Yes, the Joel Roberts, a dynamic, big-hearted, former prime time talk show host for KABC Talk Radio in Los Angeles. And I have to say, it was probably the most solid info I’ve ever gotten from a seminar. Joel definitely knows his stuff and he did a great job teaching everyone to implement his techniques. By the end of the weekend, I saw a huge improvement in the way everyone pitched themselves and performed in their mock interviews. My head buzzed with ideas of how to showcase my expertise and experiences for the media.
I can’t even begin to sum up everything I learned, but here are a few basic points Joel covered in much greater detail:
- Watch the show you want to be on as often as you can, especially during sweeps (Nov. Feb. May) to see the types of segments that bring the biggest audiences.
- Check the show websites in the middle of the week, at least weekly for segment updates.
- The segment producer is your first audience. Pretend you are face to face during the initial pitch call. Smile and bring your energy to your voice.
- Do not be afraid of controversy. It’s a show segment dream.
- Check for incidents in the news that you can use to tie in to your message. The best topics are topical.
- Use interesting elements from your life to sell your story.
- Take your passion with you, don’t tone yourself down.
- Anytime you can take an accepted idea and turn it on its ear—that’s myth busting. Media wants the counter intuitive element.
- Key message points should be delivered in 1 minute = units of impact, nuggets of wisdom, sound bites.
- Your power as a communicator is a balance between your humanity and your expertise.
- Decide what you are claiming and what you are not. You are either a guru or a witness. A guru knows what’s best for you. A witness shares their experience and says derive from it what you will.
- Do not pitch books/products, services, businesses; pitch issues. Do the producers work for them.
- If you want people to move, you have to move them. What moves others about you? Find the nuclear core of your idea. Grab ‘em fast and keep ‘em long.
- Prompt the attack you want to defend against. Provide the suggested questions that will give you the opportunity to answer in the way and with the content you want to.
- Never give away your trademark phrases to the reporter in your sample questions—have the pearls come out of your mouth in the interview.
- Every show has a population target, only two axis on the graph = young/old and male/female. (Oprah = Women 28-65; Howard Stern = Men 18-35)
- If you can’t skew your message to the demographic of the show audience, you’re dead. Find a way to be inclusive with your message.
- Don’t have only the story. Have take-away tips for the audience. How can they replicate your success?
Overall, Joel’s workshop was so comprehensive that I’ll definitely use his pitching and interview techniques to craft my current and future messages for the media. There was one thing in particular he said that really resonated with me. You see, I often sing from the rooftops about people and products/services I think are of great value, but I have a tendency to be more humble and subdued about my own contributions. Call it an anti-arrogance gene. In response to this, Joel said:
“It is essential to be comfortable demanding the attention of the public. Anything short of that won’t do. You deserve the attention of the media. Humility is not the denial of your gift; it is acknowledging the source of your gift and then giving it fully. By the time you go to the media, you should stand for your value, your contribution, and the solution it provides.”
Well, there ya go. That’s just what I needed to hear. Now, it won’t be long before I’m teaching Ellen my signature Booty Bounce.