// 11 steps to build a media profile

by Andrew May

Tapping into the power of the media is a great way to raise awareness about you and your business, but where do you start? How do you work through a structured process resulting in a national media profile?

The following 11 steps will help you go from obscurity to omnipresence.

1. CLARIFY YOUR MESSAGE

Too many people try to be everything to everyone when they start to use the media to raise their brand awareness. To cut through the swathe of other people chasing the same media coverage, make sure your message is very clear. Before you start pitching your ideas to the media, run through the following key questions:

  • What is my ‘master message’? What is the common thread or filter that has run through everything I’ve done (both good and bad)?
  • What is my style? (this is also called ‘finding your voice’). Am I going to be formal and scientific, funky and fresh, or a combination of both?
  • What am I the expert at? What do I have years of experience doing? (and try to broaden the horizon to be a lot more than fitness)
  • How can I say more in less?
  • What are some signature stories that I can use to really get my message across and make it memorable?
  • Does my message stick? (do people remember it long after you’ve spoken to them?).

2. BE DIFFERENT

There are already stacks of people talking about eating healthy food, exercising more and improving quality of sleep. What can you do to be different? If you say the same things, in the same way, with the same boring monotony that everyone else does, you won’t get even a toe in the door, let alone a foot. Sorry to be so blunt, but these are the facts you need to know before trying to build a media profile.

Take Gordon Ramsay as an example. There are hundreds of thousands of chefs in the world, but he stands out with a very clear message and clear brand. Sure, he bucks convention by swearing heaps, but he is memorable and passionate. You can see he really loves what he does and wants to help people. His frustration and impatience make him human, and in a way, endearing to the audience. What is your brand? How do you speak, dress, interact, think, walk and talk? Make an effort to be yourself, be different.

3. WRITE, WRITE, WRITE

Writing regular articles is one of the best disciplines you can embark upon. Writing articles regularly has given me much more clarity on the subjects I speak about and, more importantly, on what I don’t speak about.

Set yourself an initial goal to write a minimum of three to four articles a month. I can already hear some people saying ‘what do I write about’ and ‘what if I don’t have enough experience to write my own articles?’ First of all, write what your clients are asking you about. If they ask about sleep and how to improve energy, write about that. Secondly, of course you have enough experience! Even if you’ve only been in this industry for a short time, you can draw on experience you’ve had throughout your life.

Make yourself accountable by writing a regular blog and including articles in your monthly e-newsletters (if you don’t have a blog or e-newsletter, you’re going to miss major opportunities to grow your business via digital platforms). Self-accountability is an incredibly motivating tool.

4. PACKAGE INTO BYTES

Now take a breath and put the first three steps together. Now you have more clarity on your message and unique point of difference, combined with the discipline of writing regular articles, it’s time to spin your content into bytes of information.

The media is a complex and intricate beast that requires you to have the skills to deliver packages of information in both short and longer formats. Start by picking one topic you are comfortable with. Now, consider how you would present this topic if you had only 30 seconds; if you had 3 minutes; and if you had 30 minutes? Running the ‘30 second – 3 minute – 30 minute’ filter through a range of topics will help you work out a process for slotting your material into lots of potential interviews/segments. Start with the key points you’d cover in 30 seconds, then add some more flesh for 3 minutes, then add signature stories and proven case studies to deliver a full 30 minutes.

5. PRACTICE ON YOUR DOG

Cougar, my 47kg Rhodesian Ridgeback knows all of my talks, radio interviews and TV segments. Why? Being the loyal legend that he is, whenever I’m in my home office practising for an upcoming media segment, Cougar parks himself by my feet and listens intently, or at least for five minutes before he loses interest and falls asleep!

You don’t have to have a dog of course, the main point is to practice on your own before you take your material live. This makes a huge difference in getting your message across in a clear and concise format. Tape yourself on a digital recorder (even though you’ll hate listening to your own voice to start with) and record yourself speaking into a video camera. Listen and watch over and over again and you’ll pick up audio tags (words you continually repeat like ‘like’ and ‘you know’) and notice obvious head positioning and any quirky body movements that can become exaggerated on camera. You can then work on smoothing out these minor glitches.

6. KEEP IT LOCAL

Now you’ve worked out your message, packaged it into bytes and practised on your dog, it’s time to let rip. It’s generally easier to get your first media coverage through local or community radio stations, suburban newspapers or regional TV stations. This initial foray into the media world will provide invaluable experience and give you content to then market to larger, national distribution channels. And don’t forget digital media. There are a stack of opportunities to write for online magazines, newsletters and digital publications that help build your media experience.

7. DESIGN A MEDIA KIT

This probably sounds a bit back to front, and it is. Shouldn’t you design a media kit before you start building a media profile? This is the traditional method taught to most budding media enthusiasts. But to snag mainstream media appearances, organisations want to know you’re not a risk or a liability, and they want great talent and proven experience. I believe it’s best to first gain local experience and then build a media kit that you can send showing footage/articles/examples of you in action. Include a professional photo, a biography showing experience in your specialist area (again, try and think broader than just push ups and carrots!), contact details and web address. It is best to design your media kit in a digital format as well so you can e-mail as well as send it through as hard copy.

8. CREATE PRESS RELEASES

On any given day, TV stations, radio networks and newspaper offices receive hundreds of press releases. Designing a standard, bland press release that looks just like all the others is a great way of ensuring your message never gets heard!

Think of creative ways to get through to editors, producers, journalists, freelance writers and on-air talent. If you have created any physical products for your clients or personal web site, such as audio programs, DVDs, books or other resources, sending these can be a great way of getting a foot in the door. Every time I receive a media enquiry, I send a copy of my book and a web link to all my previous media segments.

Once you have established relationships with a range of media outlets, look at sending press releases – but again, be different. Send through information that pertains to cutting edge research or the latest trends, or be confrontational and challenge the status quo. Media outlets want information that is topical, relevant and different.

9. PROFESSIONAL AND APPROACHABLE

Make the editor, researcher or journalist’s job easier to do. Prepare research for them, write introductions to position you and sample questions to be interviewed on. Consider how much work the average radio or TV producer has to do in an average day to put a show to air. Making their job easier will procure you loads more opportunities in the future – your professionalism will be noted. Remember to always say ‘thank you’ for the opportunity. Send a card or e-mail or make a phone call thanking the station, interviewer or producer for the experience. They’ll remember you the next time they need an expert commentary and if they like dealing with you and find you approachable, you’ll go to the top of the list.

10. FISH BIGGER PONDS

Now you have some experience under your belt, you’ve sharpened your message and have gained valuable media experience it’s time to target the larger media outlets. Make a list of all potential TV and radio stations, newspapers, magazines, periodicals and digital publications that are likely to publish your materials. Do you have any contacts at these businesses and can they help you get through to the right people? Put all of the details into a spreadsheet and make a point of filling in the missing contacts you need. Continually build this database, remembering to include freelance writers and consultants.

Send a copy of your physical products, print outs of articles and links to previous media appearances to these contacts so they can get a feel for your style and content. Go to www.andrewmaymedia.blogspot.com/ for an example.

11. ANNUAL MEDIA CALENDAR

If you follow this process, you’ll dramatically increase your chances of getting regular media coverage. The final step is to plan an annual calendar with specific events and activities linked to your message/expertise. Think of content/stories you can provide that ties in with recurring themes and holidays (e.g., how to have fun but not pack on the pounds at Christmas, relaxing on holidays, avoiding back to work blues, heart health during health week). Keep your annual calendar fresh with new content based on trends and what’s hot throughout the year. You can also respond to other ‘big’ news stories with relevant content (e.g., if a new survey about rates of diabetes in Australia causes waves in the media, get in touch with your contacts with your pre-prepared information about exercise and obesity).

One final piece of advice: just do something. Your material and presentation skills may never be perfect, that’s just a fact of life. But the best way to improve your skills is the discipline of regular practice and accountability. Get started immediately on building a media profile, and watch your business and bank balance improve in the process. 

 

Andrew May
Andrew is the author of the bestselling book 'Flip the Switch' and the upcoming title 'f-words!' He presents a regular health and lifestyle segment on 2UE and is the resident Performance Coach for Channel Nine’s TODAY show. Andrew has appeared on Channel 7, Sky News and the ABC and writes for a number of national publications including 'Women’s Health' and 'Ultra'. He is regularly quoted in newspapers and digital publications including 'Kochie’s Business Builders', 'Flying Solo', 'Recharge Lounge' and 'Super Living magazine'.

NETWORK MAGAZINE • WINTER 2009 • PP35-37