Monday, December 1, 2008

Wild Abandon

Sometimes those being interviewed are nervous. If I could whisper words of encouragement to them beforehand, I would say, "We are interviewing you because your opinion counts. Just be yourself."

In the place where I'm working now, there are huge movie-screen-type monitors off to the side of the set, and routinely a person will catch his or her image, realize he or she is on national TV and suddenly exhibit signs of terror. On the other hand... occasionally, a guest will become so enamored of seeing himself on the screen that he will stare at himself. That makes it hard to continue the interview, too.

So the learning point is this: be your best self... maybe for you that's not wild abandon. But you're energized, you're on, you're confident, you have a message to share.

We can't wait to hear it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cures for Gapiosis

To my horror, I noticed in the monitor that my white bra was showing on national television! Mom called this "gapiosis," when your buttoned shirt gaps wide enough at the bust to show your lingerie underneath. Now let me set the record straight... this was not a Janet Jackson sighting... just a little bit of white in a field of royal blue.

I immediately clasped my hands together, covering the offending whiteness with my wrists. That was a stop-gap measure that worked temporarily. But here are a couple of steps you can take to prevent this dreaded disease from happening to you:

1. Wear a blouse without buttons. This is what my colleague Lisa Ryan does. She will wear a camisole under a button-up shirt, but never a buttoned shirt by itself. Or you could wear a blouse under a suit jacket that buttons or zips.

2. Use wardrobe or toupee tape. This is double-sided tape that holds the cloth between the buttons together. It works pretty well, but is hard to handle.

After the show, the first thing my husband said was, "Why did your producers let your bra show?" With a smile, I responded, "What? You didn't think it helped ratings?"

I went to the producers to ask them why they didn't alert me, and one said, "I didn't even notice." Let's hope the rest of the viewers didn't either.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New Ways to Generate Publicity

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine sent me a link to a YouTube video she created. It was so clever and so timely, I asked her permission to air it on my morning talk show. She agreed and later asked me for a quote to put in a press release. I happily obliged. She wrote and posted the press release with a distribution service called "PR Web." I was notified through a Google alert! She has given me permission to share her press release. Maybe you can take a clever idea and leverage it like this, too.

Top Mom-Blogger Urges Mothers to Vote, Not Fight

After noticing that the nomination of Sarah Palin had re-ignited the "mommy wars," mom-blogger Dena Dyer created a Dr. Suess parody video called "Red (State) Mom, Blue (State) Mom" urging mothers to vote their beliefs, not fight about them.

Fredericksburg, Texas (PRWEB) October 18, 2008 -- The nomination of Sarah Palin has re-ignited the "mommy wars." Over water coolers, in chat rooms and in person, mothers are once again sparring over politics, childcare choices, and the work/life balance.
Award-winning mommy blogger Dena Dyer says, "It bothers me that so many mothers are up in arms, and that they are spending countless hours fighting about the candidates."Dyer has friends on both sides of the political spectrum, so she came up with a Dr. Suess parody that encourages moms to vote their beliefs, not fight about them. "Red (State) Mom, Blue (State) Mom" is based on the classic children's book One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and is available on YouTube at

The video was featured on FamilyNet's national morning show, "Mornings with Lorri & Larry." Co-host and guest coordinator Lorri Allen says, "We are always looking for timely stories on our morning talk show. Dena Dyer's Dr. Seuss parody was a perfect fit for us. She not only entertains, she also offers a peaceful solution to political bickering."

Dyer believes that moms have more in common than they think. "I've been a stay-at-home mom, at work-at-home mom, and a work-outside-the-home mom. I've had my kids in public and private schools, and I have a lot of friends that homeschool their children. And you know what? We moms are more alike than not. We tend to want the same things for our children, though we may disagree on how to get there."

She adds, "I hope moms will watch the video and laugh. I also hope they'll realize that the energy they're spending on battling other moms could be better spent on making the changes they long for a reality."

For more info, including the text to "Red (State) Mom, Blue (State) Mom," visit

Saturday, October 18, 2008


A few of the publicists and prospective guests pitching stories to me for my daily talk show can't seem to grasp the idea that it broadcasts on TV AND airs on radio at the same time.

Here's how I describe it in my email signature, and either people don't read it, or I need to do a better job: "Mornings airs on Sirius 161 from 6-9 am eastern. From 7-9 am eastern, the program is also simulcast on FamilyNet Television."

We're not the only ones doing it. You've heard of Don Imus, whose radio show now airs on RFD-TV. And if you're a sports fan, you probably know about Mike and Mike on ESPN.

Still, I get questions like:
  • How can you be on the radio and the TV at the same time? (not only are we are going to a listening audience all over the U.S. and Canada by radio and across the U.S. by TV, Sirius plays our show live on the Internet!).
  • When does your radio show end and when does the TV show start?
  • Can I listen and watch at the same time?
  • So you're on the air for five hours a day?
Because simulcasting is cheap television, expect to see more of it in this tight economy. The great news for those of you seeking publicity is that you get a bigger audience with simulcast shows!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Honesty is the Best Policy

Every other month or so, I present a "Mastering the Media" course to CEO's who belong to a terrific organization called Vistage.

When I speak to one of these think-tanks, at least one of the business owners has trouble with my advice to be honest with the news media. He or she insists that honesty could lead to lawsuits. But here's the rationale: I'm telling you to not lie, to not deceive, to not be deceptive. Lies and dishonesty come back to haunt news makers. Think of several high-profile celebrities and politicians, who, if they had told the truth in the first place, may not have been in such hot water. They may still have been impeached, lost their office, lost the lawsuit or gone to federal prison, but the court of public opinion might have prevailed.

In more explicit terms, you can be honest by saying something that is not saying anything at all. You never want to say, "No comment." But you can say something to that effect without lying. For instance, you could say, "I would love to tell my side of the story. But right now, my lawyers are asking me to refrain from doing so." The news media is happy--reporters have a soundbite-- your attorneys are satisfied, and you haven't told a whopper.

Honesty is the best policy.

Monday, October 6, 2008

No Book Yet

I had the pleasure of conducting a teleseminar last week for the Business Coaching Group of the National Speakers Association. One of the participants asked, "Can I get any publicity since I haven't written a book yet?"

It's a great question. It is easier to establish your credibility with guest coordinators and assignment editors if you have published a book. But I answered the woman honestly, "I have to read so many books now, that I prefer to schedule guests who aren't promoting a book."

Without a book, you can establish your credibility in these ways:

  • Years serving a certain industry
  • Education
  • A life-changing experience
  • On-the-job results

You do have to explain why you are the perfect person to discuss the topic. Sometimes your title alone makes you worthy to be interviewed... for instance, if you are the President of a successful bank, I'd love to interview you this week. Or you may be the Executive Director of a non-profit agency helping hurricane victims... or those who've lost their homes in the sub-prime lending mess.

Don't wait for your book to come out to pitch the media about your expertise. The fact that you can show media experience and contacts will help you sell your book proposal to agents or acquisition editors.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Confirming an Interview

A talk show will typically send a confirmation notice to you by email or fax when you have agreed on a date to appear. These notices may tell you what colors to wear (if it's a TV show), what the producer or host needs from you and what numbers to call or where to go at what time.

If you get a confirmation without that information, here is an appropriate response:

"I'm looking forward to the interview on (name of show). To help (name or names of hosts) prepare, I'm attaching suggested questions and my bio. Here are my landline phone and backup cell numbers if you need to reach me. What else do you need?"

Other items programs may want include:

  • Photos
  • Video
  • Copies of your book, CD or DVD
  • Giveaways to callers
  • Bullet point information for full-screen graphics

Give the contact person every thing exactly as he or she is asking for it. Don't say, "You can get what you want on my website." If you are cooperative, you will be remembered in a positive way.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Opportunities Lost

If a reporter or talk show producer calls you, respond immediately. In this age of Blackberries, voicemail, smart phones and more, there is no excuse for waiting hours to return calls or emails... that is if you're serious about getting publicity.

One reason to get back at once is that your story may be topical or timely for that moment or day only, and if you let time go by, the producer could change his or her mind about wanting to interview you.

The scheduler may have had a hole to fill and was desperate. Your pitch wasn't that great, so when you finally got back to the coordinator, she had made other plans and was not interested in scheduling you for a future program. Or maybe she didn't trust you to get back to her in a timely fashion, so she doesn't want to risk working with you.

In a crisis situation, not getting back to the caller usually leads to your side of the story not being addressed in a news article or report. So if you ignore the press, you're likely to hear or read that you "were unavailable for comment" or "did not return our calls."

Don't bypass an opportunity by waiting.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I used to be naive enough--or optimistic enough--to believe that journalists were objective, fair, accurate and balanced. I still believe that most working reporters do their best to present each side of the story. But we all bring life's experiences/traumas/worldviews that keep us from being totally unbiased.

So my advice to you is listen, research and find out for yourself if the news outlet on which you are going to be interviewed leans to the left or right... or focuses on a special issue. Don't make assumptions: one television market's affiliates might be more or less sensational than the national brand.

More advice: don't stereotype reporters. They come in all political flavors. Most are more interested in writing a great story than they are pushing any agenda. In most cases, be fair and non-judgemental with a journalist and he or she will be fair and non-judgemental with you.

But do be careful.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Bio vs. Sales Pitch

When TV or radio producers ask you to send a bio... send a true biography (more than one page is too much), not a sales pitch.

Often I ask for bios to help us prepare for an interview and to post on the show's website, and the document I get has nothing to do with why we booked the guest. If you are booked to promote a book, the bio should mention you are an author, not sell your speaking services or the products of your company.

And by the same token, if a guest scheduler asks for a bio, don't say, "It's on my website." The producer may not have time to search for it on your website and you lose a chance to get promoted.

Learning Ground

Never mind your political affiliation. You can learn so much about soundbites every four years. The convention speeches are full of them. Listen on talk shows to hear the lines that people are repeating. If the phrase is repeatable, that means it's a soundbite.

Sarah Palin's joke in her acceptance speech ("... the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.") is an example of a repeatable soundbite.

Soundbites are also short and they inspire mental pictures. They should evoke emotion, such as humor, surprise or even anger. You may not agree with or even like every soundbite you hear, but if it makes you think, send money or vote a certain way, it's done its job.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Looking Your Best

So many questions I get are about how to look your best on camera. I've found a new product that will probably be of more interest to women than men. It helps your eyelashes grow! I was skeptical at first, but I tried it, and then came across an article about it. Apparently, people who were putting glaucoma drops in their eyes were growing fuller, thicker, longer lashes. So the product is based on that science.

The name brand I've been using is called, "RevitaLash." But the article I read said other manufacturers are about to come out with a similar product, so you might want to shop around. You put this on the base of your lids before going to bed, and it takes a few weeks to work, but it does work. So if you're lash-challenged, this may be good news to make you look better and feel more confident.

A cheaper alternative, but a big hassle: false eyelashes!

Friday, August 1, 2008

An Association to Know About

It's that time of year again. I'm headed off to the National Speakers Association's annual convention. If you speak to promote your book, your practice, your services or for any other reason... you may qualify easily for membership.

And if you want to speak professionally because you enjoy being in front of audiences, have something to say and think it might be a viable career for you, please check out the national association or your local chapter. The networking is great--most of my business comes from referrals through other speakers. And the educational sessions are just as terrific. The chapter meetings, workshops and conventions will shorten your learning curve. For anyone who seeks positive publicity, NSA should at least be on your radar.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Pitching Tips

Here is a short (we love short), email-appropriate template for pitching yourself to TV producers or guest schedulers:

“With _______________ going on in our nation/world/community, my expertise—(use one phrase here)-- lends itself to helping your audience. So please consider me as a guest on (title of the show). In addition, I may be a good fit because ________________. As for visuals. I have video/jpeg photos/books/props that could lend themselves to a unique/fun/interesting/poignant segment.

“If you want to know more, please read the press release/article/feedback I have added below. Thanks for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.”

If this is true, add this sentence before that last paragraph: "Because I live in __________, I can be at your studio on short notice. Think of me if a guest cancels at the last minute."

Add your contact information, including your website. When people send long, complicated emails, the screeners are likely to delete them without a second thought.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Listen for Cues

If you are being interviewed live, the interviewer or host will give you cues. Pick up on them. The interviewer will say, "In the 90 seconds we have left, tell us..." that means you have a whole minute and a half. Don't give a one-sentence answer, unless it takes you a minute to spit out a sentence.

And if the host says, "Quickly, before our break..." give your answer quickly. You will appear media savvy if you pick up the pace of your speech and avoid a "Well, uh, I was thinking that..." just answer.

If you are in the studio and there's chaos going on, just keep going unless you are stopped. For instance, lights can go out or hosts can choke, and if you're talking, the cameras may be avoiding the problems and be focusing on you. By keeping your cool, you're saving the program... and building your reputation as an excellent newsmaker or guest.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Phone Interviews

Phone interviews are frustrating for you, the newsmaker and for the talent interviewing you. You just can't hold as good of a conversation when you can't see the person's non-verbal communications.

For this reason, I recommend that you get to the studio if you're offered the option.

What happens in a phone interview is typically this... you take too long to answer a question or you pause, and the interviewer thinks you've finished your answer. So the host begins to ask you another question at the same time you start speaking again.

Interviewer: "I'm sorry. Go ahead and finish your sentence."

You: "No, my apologies. What were you asking?"

Interviewer: "No please..."

All this politeness can waste your valuable interviewing time. Unless you're being interviewed on Hardball, in which case you will always be interrupted.

So here's another tip (if you can't get to the studio). If the host interrupts you, just go silent. Let the interviewer either tell you to finish your sentence or ask another question. He or she may be interrupting you because you're speaking too slowly... or because (put your thick skin on) you're boring.

If this is happening to you in every interview, practice speaking a bit faster or hire a soundbite coach!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Making Sense of a Candidate's Gaffe

Maybe the presidential candidate with the fewest verbal misstatements will win the 2008 race. Senator Hillary Clinton's comment about assassination last week may be the final straw that keeps her from getting chosen as VP or cabinet member.

If you missed it, she was making a case for staying in the race. She said her husband didn't wrap up his nomination until June and referenced Robert Kennedy's assassination in June 1968. Some political commentators talked about the inaccuracy of her statement and many took great offense, claiming that Senator Clinton was hinting that she was hanging on in case Barack Obama got assassinated. Others defended her, saying she is a nice person and would wish no physical harm to the senator from Illinois.

As a soundbite coach, the tack I take on it is, "What in the world would I do if I were HER coach?" A couple of learning points from this ill-timed remark may help you in crisis:

1. Exhaustion cripples--As Vince Lombardi said, "Fatigue makes cowards of us all." I say, "Fatigue makes fools of us all." Don't go in front of the cameras if you've been running on little sleep. Hillary Clinton may be hanging on to her candidacy for many reasons, but hopefully, she wouldn't have made this social blunder on a good night's sleep... which she may not have had for months.

2. Words matter--Word like "assassinate" should seldom be used in political or corporate campaigns. Pastor John Hagee and Senator John McCain parted ways over the use of "Hitler." And Senator Barack Obama probably wishes his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, hadn't used several incendiary phrases. The point is some words (like "hope") inspire and others inflame. When you're practicing your soundbites, know what results you're aiming for and use words accordingly.

3. Good apologies help; bad apologies make it worse--Mrs. Clinton's apology about using the assassination reference left me wanting more. She said she hoped she didn't offend the Kennedy family--but what about the Obama family?

If I were her coach, I would've counseled her to apologize like this: "During this tough week for the Kennedy's, I hate that my remarks might have reminded them of an even sadder moment in their family's history. And I would never wish ill on my colleague in the Senate and presidential candidate, Barack Obama. I did not mean to insinuate that I was still in the race because something bad might happen to him. I am still in this race because people deserve a choice for their Democratic candidate."

If you find yourself needing to apologize, make sure you cover all the people who could be offended and end on a strong note.

This history-making campaign will continue to give us fodder for coaching moments. Let's hope future candidates and newsmakers will learn all they can.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

One Big Thing that Irks a Producer

Our producer came unglued a few weeks ago when a publicist walked into the control room (from the studio audience) near the end of the LIVE program and started handing him notes and telling him what to do. At many news stations and production facilities, an unauthorized person can't gain access to the control room, but I've worked at several places where visitors are encouraged to watch the sausage being made. If you're visiting a place like this, DO NOT interrupt a live technical crew... unless you are the paying client.

If the control room has a closed door on it, do not open the door unless you are invited in. If you are invited in, please be silent until asked a question.

So, why did our producer get so upset? The publicist was waving papers in front of him, and he couldn't see the computer buttons to give us our time cues for the end of the show, so we kept talking and the program was over! It was ugly. That publicist and her clients won't be asked back.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Things That Irk an Interviewer

Recently, a newsmaker hit the trifecta. That's right, he committed three sins in one short interview. First, when I was introducing him in a live setting, he corrected information HE GAVE ME from his bio, as in "I'm not really living there yet. I'm in City X." Well, then, don't put City Y in the document you send me. And why bring it up anyway when time is short and you're trying to sell books?

Second, he was slow putting sentences together. So when my colleague tried to help him out, the guest asked, "Well, what do you expect when it's 5:30 am?" Don't accept early morning interviews if you're not a morning lark. And worse, if you do, don't complain about it. No one is holding a gun to your head.

Third, in response to three questions, the fellow said, "Well, my co-author is really the expert on that. Here's what I think he would say..." If you can't speak for your co-author, don't accept the interview.

I'm not mad at the guest. He just needs coaching. I'm mad at the publicist who told me this guy was high-energy and articulate. He was neither.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Lessons from the Campaign, Part Two

Since I promised to give coaching tips to each candidate, Mike Huckabee has dropped out of the race, but I'll still give him advice, since some of you may benefit. With each candidate, I'll explain how you can apply the tip to yourself.

Huckabee--Watch the 5 o'clock shadow, Governor. It makes you look tired. And don't complain during the debate about the questions and time you're not getting. Instead, inspire and make the most of every second.

For everyone: Make sure you don't need a touch-up shave for a late-night interview or speech. Focus on the positive instead of complaining. Reporters don't like nags.

John McCain--Don't get short and testy with reporters. They will just report on your temper again. Instead, invite them to another barbecue.

For everyone: Don't say things to reporters such as, "That's not news." Don't yell at reporters. Don't curse reporters. You'll likely end up on YouTube. Reporters don't like to be yelled at.

Hillary Clinton--Spend time with a voice coach. When you raise your voice in rallies or when making a point in a debate, your voice gets shrill, strained and flat.

For everyone: If you do a lot of interviews or a lot of speeches, your voice could be damaged or strained. Consider hiring a voice coach. Reporters get tired of grating voices.
Typically, you can find a speech or voice expert at your local community college. Help can be had for as little as $50 per hour.

Barack Obama--When you're on your game, you're engaging and inspirational. Every once in a while though, we get a cutaway during a rally or a debate and you appear to be stifling a yawn or going cross-eyed with fatigue. Get some rest.

For everyone: As media savvy as you may be, remember Vince Lombardi. The coach told his players, "Fatigue makes cowards of us all." Rest makes your skin glow and your voice resonate. Rest makes you think faster and articulate your thoughts easier. Reporters will get drowsy if you're boring. So keep them on their toes by being at your rested best.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Lessons from Campaign 2008

The U.S. Presidential campaign can be a university for those studying Media Savvy. Keep watching what the four contenders are doing and learn. The candidates have been through lots of coaching, but that doesn't mean they're perfect. Here are some of my observations that will work for you whether you're president of your company or running for dog catcher.

  • Hammer home a vision instead of criticizing.
  • Keep a sense of humor.
  • Look your best, and that means looking alert and awake.
  • People will attack you--know that and decide beforehand how you will respond. Will you counter attack or will you take the high road?

What soundbite lessons have YOU learned from the contenders? I'd love to hear from you. Next time, I will share what coaching tips I would give each candidate.