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How To Land Great Media Attention For Your Thought Leadership

Part of Kathy Caprino’s series “Thought Leadership and Impact”

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As a writer and a Forbes contributor for over 9 years, I’ve received hundreds of questions from new and emerging thought leaders and writers who wish for more media attention—for their work, books and services. Given the meteoric rise of social media, I’ve seen too that people are hungrier than ever for attention, seeking validation for who they are and what they’re doing. And an obsession with “vanity metrics” (rankings, ratings and viewership, for instance) is on the rise as well. But as anyone who believes they have something important to share with the world knows, it’s a compelling dream and goal to spread that message to a wider audience.

Over the years, there are numerous questions I’ve received repeatedly from strangers, all around how to get more great media attention. The most common questions I’ve heard are:

1) How can I become a Forbes contributor or get the chance to contribute on other reputable sites?

2) Will you please cover my work or business in your blogs?

3) May I contribute a piece in your blog?

4) How do I get the media interested in my new book or podcast?

5) How do I get more followers who are truly engaged in my work?

6) How did you build a large following on LinkedIn and other social platforms?

7) I’m wondering why my posts aren’t going viral or getting engagement, where other people’s are, when I’m writing on the same topics as they are. 

Enticing the media to cover your books and thought leadership is an intricate process that requires more than hope and desire, or a “good idea.” There are numerous key elements and factors that members of the media are looking for in what they cover. And there are certain criteria that your content needs to meet successfully in order to elicit interest from the media.

To learn more about how to land great media attention for your work, I caught up this week with Norbert Beatty, Associate Director of Fortier PR. For over thirteen years, Fortier PR has represented Pulitzer Prize winners, seventeen #1 bestsellers, and over 100 bestsellers by authors ranging from Scott Galloway to Kim Scott, and books by 33 of the Thinkers50 list of the world’s leading business thinkers including Jim Collins, Clayton Christensen, Seth Godin, Marcus Buckingham, and Amy Edmondson. They supported journalists like Maria Bartiromo, virtually every publishing house, and the CEOs, presidents and/or founders of Starbucks, Facebook, Alphabet, Google, GM, JetBlue, BP, Southwest Airlines, Procter & Gamble, AT&T, Citigroup, Deloitte, and many more.

Beatty is an award-winning PR professional who has worked at Fortier PR for over eleven years on the books of such bestselling authors as Stephen Covey, Martin Lindstrom, Tony Hsieh, Harvey Mackay, Chris Brogan, Jerry Colonna, David Meerman Scott, Chester Elton, John Gerzema, John Jantsch, Carmine Gallo, Isaac Lidsky, the CEOs or founders of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Zappos and more.

Fortier PR is the firm I chose to help me spread the word about my new book out this summer, The Most Powerful You: 7 Bravery-Boosting Paths to Career Bliss.

I asked Beatty to share his take on what it takes to get great media attention for one’s book or podcast, and what emerging thought leaders need to understand about best PR practices. Here’s what he shared:

Kathy Caprino: From your view as a PR expert in the world of business books, what makes a media-worthy idea, book or podcast?

Norbert Beatty: Like the media, we search for fresh voices or perspectives; new ideas or concepts that address challenges in business, our careers or companies, the economy or the ways we live today. As PR strategists, we craft pitch ideas and qualify them using a kind of litmus test to ensure they are compelling, timely, actionable and concise.

Today’s media have limited time, and like their audiences, they look for new concepts presented in a bold, fresh and counterintuitive way. They want current examples, emerging data, and research or evidence that support these concepts. Whether it’s an idea, book or podcast interview, must-have qualities include a fresh, new perspective; evidence that supports it, and new or unexpected examples or cases that enable us to better understand how it affects audiences today, or will in the near future. And as many of today’s business challenges are not entirely “new,” we need to ensure that the ideas and sources we pitch offer new value, adding fresh aspects or applications.  

Caprino: What is the media looking for that helps them say “yes” to covering one project and “no” to thousands of others?

Beatty: It’s the elusive “secret sauce” of a winning pitch. In addition to the foundational qualities I noted (compelling, timely, actionable and concise), the media seek new data, trends, and research; solutions to current problems and challenges facing our businesses, careers, or society. And of course, colorful, well-told stories from passionate, credible sources.  

As publicists, we craft these “irresistible” pitches in a variety of ways.  First, we help determine the elements in a book or project that are most likely to impact target audiences such as business readers, leaders, managers, investors, entrepreneurs, consumers, and others. Then we ask questions like “What makes this concept particularly compelling today?” and “Is the perspective authentic, unique and supported by credible sources?” And finally, “What findings or research best illustrates the central issue or argument you present?”  Answers to these questions and others help us to craft a pitch that attracts media attention, and inspires influencers and tastemakers to shape public opinion—ultimately driving sales and success for a project or campaign.   

Caprino: What role does a great PR team play? How do they make the difference for an author, writer or podcaster?

Beatty: In my experience, an effective PR partnership begins with clear communication and collaboration. Working closely with a client and their organization, we establish their goals, strategies, messaging and definition of success. With this understanding, strategic planning, positioning and execution, we partner with clients to reach important goals and target audiences.

Through carefully selected target outlets, outreach and opportunities, you can achieve measurable results, in terms of publicity, heightened awareness, and sales growth. Plus you can achieve inroads to strategic partnerships with professional associations and corporate events, offering greater credibility to help you access your next level. 

Caprino: What do thought leaders (or emerging ones) need to understand about getting great media attention that so many don’t right now?

Beatty: Getting media attention involves a careful process of building relationships, and maintaining them over time. And good publicity can be equal parts art and science. While the best campaigns offer clear-cut messages and timely opportunities, there is no single turn-key campaign or one-size-fits-all solution.  

Customization is critical, and results rely upon strong relationships and attention to detail, thoughtful messaging, sourcing media opportunities and such basics as strong, concise language, and meeting deadlines. And it is important to remember that publicity can be a long-term investment, as its impact takes many shapes and forms over time.

If an author prioritizes both solid reviews and winning bestseller status, they may find that even with abundant positive reviews, interviews and publicity features, sales results can take time. And while we’ve had great success in guiding authors to reach bestseller lists, success is defined in many ways. It is often helpful to adopt a long-tail view of building public opinion, and understand the value of sustained sales results that keep delivering. 

Caprino: If you were standing up in front of 1,000 writers or podcasters today, teaching about this topic, what would you tell them are the five biggest mistakes people make in trying to get great, positive media attention. How are they missing the mark in what they’re doing now?

Beatty: They need to avoid these common mistakes:

Not Positioning Yourself—by failing to carefully define your unique selling proposition (USP) upfront vis-a-vis competitors or others in your space, you face enormous missed opportunities. Nailing this first step is critical.

Oversimplifying—while your messages must be clear and concise, avoid underplaying their nuanced points of difference. 

Hype—hyperbole, overpromising and over-stating claims. You simply can’t be all things to all people. Nor would you want to be. So avoid the overstated language and build credibility over doubt. 

Spamming/hyper-frequency—repetitive sales pitches: we’ve all fallen victim to them, taking an otherwise effective message and destroying any chance of acceptance. Avoid this at all cost (“do unto others”) and keep track of messaging and outreach carefully.

Follow-Through—failing to follow up (or follow through). It’s the #1 issue behind lackluster results. Delivery and attention to detail are top priorities that make the winning difference. 

Caprino: What’s the difference between true engagement from others vs. “views” and “followers” (vanity metrics)?

Beatty: True engagement is personal; your message needs to resonate deeply with an audience to elicit a personal response, conversation or true call to action.  Simply “following” someone won’t often result in true “engagement.” While your number of followers can reflect a level of audience acceptance or receptiveness, it is no indication of true engagement.

Caprino: And what are 5 key strategies emerging thought leaders can employ to create more buzz, attention and engagement in their work?

Beatty: Here are five key strategies:

  1. Prioritize Messages — as a thought leader, you need to identify the key messages that will distinguish your cause and call-to-action. Invest the time and thinking upfront, and map out effective, bullet-proof messaging. And remember to use clear, concise language that avoids too much jargon and industry-speak.
  2. Build Community – Building alliances pays great dividends. Your community is vital, and your message allows you to keep expanding it. Focus on connecting with customers, clients, media, and other influencers to keep growing that community and creative ways of reaching them.
  3. Contribute or Giving Back – Support like-minded audiences, groups and organizations, as they support the many causes that are meaningful to you and your audiences. Contributing valuable time, content, wisdom and resources to these groups will advance your mission and messages (and reflect well on you).  Explore opportunities to contribute to media and social channels, from Forbes to LinkedIn, and other outlets that attract the mass and niche audiences most important to you.  
  4. Speak – You’ve done the interviews, and see powerful engagement with the media and their audiences. Now it’s time to take your message on the road. Speaking events like keynote addresses and panels (including many virtual opportunities in our Covid-19 age) deliver great impact and buzz-building for your book or platform (and of course, generate sales including valuable bulk orders).
  5. Choose Partners – When it comes to effective PR, you can’t do it all alone. Teamwork will multiply your results. A solid partner (PR firm or publicist) can advance both the quality and quantity of your exposure, and help leverage your existing relationships. Talk to colleagues, clients and competitors, and consult with those who can offer battle-tested thinking and results.

In the end, the key is to make your message memorable; you have a uniquely singular voice, so be sure it resonates and makes its mark in the world. 

For more information, visit Fortier PR.

To develop your thought leadership, check out Kathy Caprino’s free resources on Building Your Authentic Thought Leadership and read her new book The Most Powerful You: 7 Bravery-Boosting Paths to Career Bliss.

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