Friday, July 29, 2011

Good for ABC

This shouldn't be a cause for celebration--or news. Nevertheless, it's good to know that one network is doing the right thing.

ABC Bans Paying News Subjects
ABC News has quietly decided to get out of the business of paying news subjects in connection with exclusive interviews. With no public announcement or fanfare, the news division's president, Ben Sherwood, has effectively taken ABC out of what had become a competitive bidding war for hot bookings. After taking a public-relations hit in several high-profile cases, ABC will no longer be buying photos or video as a way of getting a news subject to cooperate-a process that had become a fig leaf for purchasing interviews. When asked for comment, spokesman Jeffrey Schneider confirmed the new policy, saying: "We can book just about anyone based on the strength of our journalism, the excellence of our anchors, correspondents, and producers, and the size of our audience. These licensing deals had become a crutch, and an unnecessary one." The new approach is not an absolute ban, but network sources say it would take an extraordinary circumstance to allow a licensing fee-perhaps once every couple of years-that would require approval at the highest levels. ABC's unilateral disarmament could prompt the other networks to drop out of the pay-to-play arms race as well. Or they could continue to pay big bucks for licensing fees with one less competitor to worry about. "Will we lose a booking here and there? Sure," said Schneider. "Are those lost bookings equal to the credibility of ABC News? Not in any way, shape, or form."
The Daily Beast

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Authors, Consider a Book Trailer

Movie trailers, the promotional clips for upcoming attractions that you sit through before getting to the real movie, have been around for 98 years.

Book trailers have only come along in the past decade. But they are rapidly becoming a staple of press kits and grass roots promotion. A well-done book trailer can help sell you as a talk show guest or news interviewee. Some TV stations may even use your video as b-roll during your interview.

You can post your book trailer to your blog, Facebook page and website. You can send it with your press releases. You can put a link in your Tweets and other social media. You can add the link to your email signature.

Please get professional help in shooting and editing your book trailer. I may be biased, but my husband's new trailer is a good example. He is an Emmy-award winning producer, so he has an advantage, but he's not used to being in front of the camera. Take a look and see what you think he does right.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Example of a Good Press Release

New Thriller Ill Wind Re-Visits Worst Hurricane in U-S History; Galveston Storm of 1900 Killed More Than All Others Combined

Film Producer Allen Pits Early Texas Crime Syndicate Against Fledgling Secret Service

June 13, 2011 - Houston

It was the deadliest, most destructive hurricane in American history. Even Katrina falls short in scale and devastation. Emmy award winning TV producer and native Texan Mark Allen uses the apocalyptic storm of 1900 as the backdrop of his historical thriller, Ill Wind.

This year, national weather watchers predict a more-active-than-normal hurricane season - with three to six major hurricanes projected for the Atlantic alone. But none have ever been predicted as severe as the devastating storm that swept Galveston Island more than a century ago.

“Most people have no idea how devastating the storm surge was,” says Allen. “In 1900, Galveston was the fourth-busiest port city in the country, but this hurricane wiped the island flat.”

The year was 1900.

The newly-formed U.S. Secret Service has sent an agent to investigate a counterfeiting conspiracy on the Texas Gulf Coast. He arrives just weeks before the horrible storm’s arrival on September 8th. As he uncovers a labyrinthian network of organized crime, the Gulf of Mexico churns - eventually producing a deadly phenomenon unlike any seen since.

Allen has leveraged his love of the Texas Gulf Coast and its history to produce a riveting historical novel set against a backdrop of utter devastation.

“I’ve always been enchanted with the city of Galveston, its romance and its tragic past,” says Allen. “This is a chapter of American history that has never been fully explored. I wanted to bring it to life with a novel that examines the city, the people and the circumstances preceding the disaster.”

As a child, Allen spent several years in the Houston area, where he and his parents learned to ride out hurricanes in the shower stall with a blanket and a weather radio. Years later, he covered Hurricane Andrew as a journalist based in East Texas. Today, he’s an award-winning TV and film producer and amateur historian.

“I think the lesson is that we tend to put too much trust in technology to protect us or to help control nature. It’s really a losing battle. We’re better at predicting hurricanes, floods and fires today, but no better at preventing them. Look at the Missouri River flooding, the Arizona wildfire or the tragic tornadoes this year alone. Weather is the great equalizer.”

Hurricane season in the western Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico lasts from June through November. Ninety-percent of the storms occur during that six-month window. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warned that this year's season will be above average, with as many as ten hurricanes spiraling across the Atlantic, many threatening the U-S coastline.

This is Mark Allen’s first novel, now available at,, and


# # # # #

For more information, or to schedule an interview, contact Jeff Brady at Brady Media Group. 214.265.5670.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Plea to Business Owners--Get Insurance

Businesses that:

  • Manufacture

  • Have customers

  • See patients

  • Build

  • Drill

  • Hire drivers

  • Have employees

  • Use chemicals

  • Serve food

need insurance. Of course, you have it, you think. But could your business handle the headline coverage that would come with a crisis in an explosion, ugly lawsuit, or accidental employee or customer death? What if one of your drivers fell asleep at the wheel and caused multi-car fatalities? What if one of your employees embezzled, sexually harassed, committed arson or murdered co-workers? Would you be ready to handle the reporters who descended immediately?

Media crisis insurance can come in the form reading blogs like this or coordinating Soundbite Coach training like I offer. But in these times, you might not be able to afford that. Here's a question to think about: can you afford the negative publicity that might cause customers to lose all faith in your products or services?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Documentary Horrifies, Inspires

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold will force you to
look at every advertisement, every movie, billboard, TV show and even school fences differently. Product placement didn't used to bother me--it seemed much more realistic than those generic packages that no one really uses.

Now, there is a whole industry based on creative advertising and placement, and documentarian Morgan Spurlock provides an entertaining but horrifying tale of how we are bombarded with ads. Be an informed consumer... OR as a newsmaker... be creative and be inspired about how you can find new property to sell your products or services.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Great Graduation Gift

High school or college graduates need to know how to make better presentations and use the right words in the workplace. And they may even need to know how to work with the news media. Attorney Linda Swindling and I co-authored these three pocket-sized Passport books to provide convenient help when you need it. Each book retails for $5.95, and the content will aid careers for a lifetime. The titles are:

  • Speak To Success: Present with Power, Panache & Purpose

  • Say It Right: Converse with Confidence, Tact & Care

  • Be A Newsmaker: Master the Media with Clarity, Command & Credibility

You can order directly from the publisher at, or if you prefer to get a personalized copy, email me at Lorri (at sign) SoundbiteCoach (dot) com for details.

Congratulations and best wishes to all graduates!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

TV Jewelry

Years ago, a television consultant assigned to work with me wore a metal TV pin. It was cool. I have looked for a TV pin to wear on my lapel ever since. When I met Anne Perry and heard she made jewelry, I commissioned her! She works with glass. I am thrilled with the results. Anne even created matching earrings!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Is This Fair Coverage?

Recently, on a Phoenix station, I watched a local reporter cover a story on a proposed gun ban. I lived in Tucson last year, less than a mile from the Safeway, the site of the tragic shootings that wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, so I am personally sympathetic to ideas that might prevent events like this in the future. But I was professionally appalled at what took place in this news report.

All of the anti-gun people interviewed were attractive, articulate and well-credentialed. One, Dr. Peter Rhee, University Medical Center's surgeon in charge of the Trauma unit, became well-recognized during the press conferences held starting on the day of the January 8 shootings.

At least the reporter attempted to get the other side of the story. Representing the Second Amendment argument was a dishelved, dirty man wearing an NRA cap. He had missing teeth and used poor grammar. C'mon, was this the best you could find in conservative Arizona? His credibility was no match for the anti-gun side.

This may be a lesson as much to reporters as to those trying to get coverage. And it's a lesson for those of us who watch news. Analyze reports carefully. Are you swayed because one spokeswoman is prettier than another? Do you consider one side's argument "better" for reasons that don't make sense?

It's stories like these that begin to convince me that perhaps all reporters are not fair and balanced after all.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Still More Soundbite Coach Tweet Tips

1. If you are short of breath while being interviewed, could be nerves. Ramp up your cardio exercise to help lungs: jogging is a great tool.

2. Clients asking more + more how to publicize on social media. Newspapers may by dying, but not dead yet! Headline ink still great promotion for your websites and packets.

3. A pet peeve: guest didn't even look to see what time our show started + kept calling to get "prepped" while we were already on air.

4. Twice already this week, 2 guests asked for ongoing segments on our show. Awkward spot-If a network wants you to be a regular, it will ask.

5. If you are on a media tour or a regular, consider having your own IFB (ear piece) made... it's not too expensive + you'll always know whose ear it's been in!

6. If your interview is bumped by breaking news, be gracious and you may get rescheduled on a slower news cycle.

7. For laryngitis before an interview, take Ricola-no alcohol-or Fisherman's Friend. Don't whisper, do drink warm water, and do consider a cortisone shot.

These are concise tips, since Twitter only gives you 140 characters. I've added some information to some of these, but if you have questions, please post them.

More Soundbite Coach Tweet Tips

1. A guest for tomorrow's show called to check in, let me know he's in town + see if there were any last minute details to discuss. Nice touch!

2. A publicist called for Kevin. No Kevin at our station. She said, "So sorry. Let me pitch my client anyway." Not a good 1st impression.

3. When you send "10 Suggested Questions" to interviewer, include meaty questions. Lightweight questions include, "Where can we get your book?"

4. Always be nice to the makeup artist. He or she not only can make you look better, producers ask how newsmakers acted in the makeup room.

5. If you're an author, watch saying "in my book" repeatedly in your interviews. For those who haven't caught the title, it doesn't help much.

6. If you're a novelist, beware of interviewers who give your plot or surprise ending away! Have a response that makes people still want to buy!

7. A good interviewee has equal parts energy or passion and interesting content. Great information without energy puts listeners to sleep.

8. "News is what somebody somewhere doesn't want you to know. All the rest is advertising." Dan Rather

9. Make sure a host really, really loves you before you ask for a recommendation. And don't ask for it on letterhead. To do so is asking a lot.

10. Reporters are using Twitter to find news sources. What messages do your photo and profile send to the news media? You might want 2 accounts.

11. Reporters hate to talk on the phone. Be friendly, but be quick when you call. Don't avoid calls-they're a great way to stand out from email.

12. We had 2 no-show guests this week because publicists gave us the wrong phone numbers. Make sure shows have your correct number + get a back up for the studio.

Ten Soundbite Coach Tweets

If you're not tweeting, you may be missing a chance to reach some in your prospective audience. I've shared some good stuff, personal stuff and now-dated tweets on my account @soundbitecoach.

Here is a compilation of helpful hints. And remember you always get new and different advice when you subscribe to the Media Savvy eTips. Just send an email to Lorri -at sign- Soundbite Coach - dot- com and put "subscribe Media Savvy" in the subject line.

1. Tension, stress + fatigue can be heard in your voice. Go get a massage.

2. Authors-always take a copy or 2 of your book to the studio. The director may want to shoot it for your interview or you can give it away!

3. Soundbite advice for coaches: take the blame for problems, but give credit for success to the players. Do the opposite + you look like a jerk.

4. Research the reporters/hosts who are going to interview you. You will impress them with conversation starters and commonalities.

5. Imagine your company's worst nightmare happens. What do you say to the press? Did you have safeguards? Could you have prevented it?

6. Practice interviewing. Get a friend to ask you questions about your topic. Chances are the questions from a reporter will be similar!

7. Take a camera when you are an in-studio guest. Then email the photo with hosts to them. They will be flattered + may put you on website.

8. When a reporter asks you a question that can be answered "yes" or "no," he or she wants more. Say yes or no "and this is the reason why..."

9. Appearance tip: No matter your skin tone or coloring, you look professional on TV in navy blue.

10. What is the biggest mistake newsmakers commit? Saying "no comment." Get your side of the story out there!

Walter Cronkite on Liberal Journalists

"I believe that most of us reporters are liberal, but not because we consciously have chosen that particular color in the political spectrum. More likely it is because most of us served our journalistic apprenticeships as reporters covering the seamier side of our cities -- the crimes, the tenement fires, the homeless and the hungry, the underclothed and undereducated.
"We reached our intellectual adulthood with daily close-ups of the inequality in a nation that was founded on the commitment to equality for all. So we are inclined to side with the powerless rather than the powerful. If that is what makes us liberals so be it, just as long as in reporting the news we adhere to the first ideals of good journalism -- that news reports must be fair, accurate and unbiased. That clearly doesn't apply when one deserts the front page for the editorial page and the columns to which opinion should be isolated.
"The perceived liberalism of television reporters, I am convinced, is a product of the limited time given for any particular item. The reporter desperately tries to get all the important facts and essential viewpoints into his or her piece but, against a fast-approaching deadline, he or she must summarize in a sentence the complicated story. That is where the slippage occurs, and the summary too frequently, without intention, seems to emphasize one side or the other.
"(The answer to that problem, as with much else in television news, is in more time for the dominant evening newscasts. In our ever more complicated and confusing world, those newscasts need an hour.) Incidentally, I looked up the definition of 'liberal' in a Random House dictionary. It gave the synonyms for 'liberal' as 'progressive,' 'broad-minded,' 'unprejudiced,' 'beneficent.' The antonyms it offered: 'reactionary' and 'intolerant.' I have always suspected those fine folks at Random House of being liberals. You just can't trust anybody these days."

Walter Cronkite

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Real Reality Show

From the Chicago Tribune...

One of the most powerful things about television is the illusion it lends viewers of being somewhere else — in the midst of the action — effortlessly, comfortably, safely. From our living rooms, we can go into space, under the sea and anywhere in between under any conditions while others dutifully accept the dangers of taking us there. So there is a certain level of detachment as we siphon their adrenaline rush from our living rooms, whether watching a football game played in weather better suited for the Iditarod sled-dog race or getting dropped into the heart of a revolution.

But you had to feel it in the pit of your stomach when CBS said Tuesday that "60 Minutes" correspondent Lara Logan was in a hospital, recovering from a beating and sexual assault she suffered at the hands of a mob while covering the Tahrir Square celebrations in Egypt the day that Hosni Mubarak stepped down as president last week.The media, like politicians, have drawn a lot of criticism of late, not all of it unjustified. You may not be a fan of a particular organization or individual. You may question who gets sent where and when and why. You can scrutinize the work they do. But never question the dedication of those who put themselves at risk. Never underestimate the difficulties and dangers. Never forget the cost, not just for the organizations that send newspeople into the middle of a situation like Cairo, but for those who get sent and the others in their lives. "You have the Middle East in complete turmoil," NBC News boss Steve Capus said in an interview the other day. "These are incredibly important times. Perhaps it's a quaint notion, but investing in news at a time like this, to me, makes sense. The audience is hungry for it." It's only when you pause to think of it that you recognize the potential danger they and their crew were in, even while taking precautions. So pause.

Chicago Tribune