10 Steps to Pitching Radio

radio-interviewRadio is still a great way to get your message heard. A few months ago I booked more than 50 interviews for Karin Winegar, the author of SAVED: Rescued Animals and the Lives They Transform – driving the book into the Amazon topseller list in its niche.  Commercial radio stations are facing a terrible downturn in advertising – that means they have a lot more space to fill. And THAT means more opportunity for authors to get in front of listeners.

It’s can be hard to pitch radio –  which is why there are entire PR agencies focused solely on this medium. But anyone can get on air once they know how to do it.

  1. Pitch the producers and program managers, NOT the hosts, unless it’s a smaller market. If you’re not sure just call the station and ask who books the interviews for that particular show.
  2. Use a pitch that is filled with CONTENT not an ad for your service. Show that your listeners will learn something from having you on – and you’ll get your plug in for your book or product don’t worry. The best guests don’t sell they INFORM.
  3. Get to the point right away in your pitch. Write it in 200 words or less if you can. Use BOLD to highlight the important stuff. If you can, offer a couple books or product samples as giveaways.
  4. Don’t call them –  they don’t have time. Everyone in broadcast is short-staffed but radio is the worst right now. No one has time to listen to a pitch even if it’s just five minutes.
  5. Make sure your email subject line has no SPAM words. These folks get 100’s of emails a day and many go into junk. Don’t be afraid to re-send if you think it might not have gone through either. Lots of times they just don’t see your email.
  6. Pitch about a week ahead of time for commercial drivetime segments. Pitch 2-3 weeks for talk shows and interview-based programs. Some drivetime books the day before – we often get most of our interviews a couple days before the campaign starts.
  7. Be available and respond IMMEDIATELY to a request. Radio folks are notoriously last minute. If you wait a day or even a couple hours you are likely to lose the spot. Answer the phone or email the MINUTE you receive it and book it right away. No “I will check my schedule and get back to you” This person is offering you GOLD so grab it and run.
  8. Send a confirmation email right away with numbers, backup numbers and all the details. Once you’re confirmed, send a product sample or book, sample questions and backgrounders right away.
  9. Don’t you dare be late. 30 seconds in radio is a lifetime. You’ll miss the spot and risk getting blackballed by that station and possibly others. Remember THEY ALL TALK TO EACH OTHER, especially if it’s ClearChannel.
  10. Follow up with a thank you to your contact, and stay in touch to let that person know what’s happening with the book. Interviewers and producers tend to “adopt” new authors they like and can be extremely helpful.  Cultivate your media connections like a new set of friends.

Another note – don’t get snotty about which station you’ll be on. Many smaller stations communicate with bigger ones. If they hear you’re a great guest they’ll suggest you. If they hear you were bad or wouldn’t do it, they’ll communicate that too. Dan Buettner, author of NYT bestseller The Blue Zones is always incredibly gracious whether he’s on CNN or doing a talk show in Vidalia, GA. That’s part of the reason why his book is doing so well. He booked with a smaller talk show host recently, who subsequently signed a 60-city syndicated deal. Point is, YOU NEVER KNOW who these hosts know or where they’ll be in a year or two. DO EVERY INTERVIEW.

And don’t turn up your nose at Internet radio either. Dan also did Inez Bracy’s online radio program on BlogTalk Radio. Guess what – the program became featured that day on the network and Dan got tons of hits for the book and his website.

To book radio you need to think like a producer, not like somebody with something to sell. Provide real content, respond immediately and be a prompt, entertaining guest (more on that later)  Radio can be the springboard to bigger things – more importantly it has an incredible reach all on its own.

Bonnie Harris is the founder of Wax Marketing, an integrated marketing and public relations firm. Read her blog here and follow her on Twitter for tips and to learn about the life of an accidental publicist.