As a PR professional, knowing how to dress for media appearances is of utmost importance. There are few departments who represent a company more directly then the PR team themselves. Though preparing yourself for an appearance with the media can be a bit stressful in the beginning, creating your wardrobe is essential. When you prep for your next media appearance, be sure to use the tips below as your guide for PR professional dress.
Embody Your Company
First and foremost, your attire when you step out into the eye of the public should always embody your company. Whether your office wear is business casual or completely casual, onlookers should be able to tell who you work for from your dress. Ask yourself if someone else in your workplace would be comfortable in the same outfit you plan on wearing in front of the media; if the answer is yes, you’re probably on the right track with your look. Remember that you are the direct link between your audience and your company. Allow your audience to get a glimpse of all your business has to offer through the professionalism of your look.
Play it Safe
Going in front of the media is not the time to step out of the box with your attire. While it might be tempting to make a bold outfit choice in order to stand out, playing it safe is always your best option.
Keep your look simple, modest, and clean. Whether you opt for a simple button up shirt or sleek black capris, stay to what’s familiar to you. Most name brands offer in-season looks that will keep you feeling professional and prepared.
Online thrift shops like thredUP even have great names like Madewell to help you save on the perfect top as well as anything else you might need.
Avoid clothing with large pockets as they might tempt you to store clunky items on your person. Bring a small briefcase or purse with you to the appearance to store those extra items you need with you and leave them in the greenroom or wherever it’s safe to store them during your appearance. Being free of pocket items such as your phone and wallet will give you clean lines and leave you feeling more comfortable and less weighed down when you address the public.
Be Color Conscious
The colors you wear can tell a lot about you and about your company. If the branding of your organization revolves around a specific color, it doesn’t hurt to incorporate it into your professional look.
Stay away from bright and bold color choices along with excessive patterns. Opt for safe and simple neutral tones that won’t leave your audience feeling distracted by your look.
Allow the colors you wear to compliment you as it will make your words have more of an impact. A neutral tone of red, like burgundy, is both a subtle and powerful example of a color that will help you feel brave and bold in front of a crowd. Be aware of colors that might show off sweat stains, or end up being see-through. Choose a color that you feel confident in and you’re sure to make a great impression on your listeners.
Know Your Location & Audience
While your professional dress should always embody your company, it should also take into account the environment of the media appearance. Always consider the location of your appearance and who your audience is. An outdoor conference will more than likely mean you should opt for sensible and simple footwear.
Check the weather outlook for the day to be prepared for the heat, rain, or a cold spell. The more prepared you are, the more professional you’ll look to your audience. Access the age range of your viewers as well to ensure your outfit remains timeless. The more you let your look speak for itself, the more comfortable you’ll feel as you represent your company.
The following are 3 radio pitch letter templates courtesy Steve Harrison and Alex Carroll. (Thank you guys!)
Steve shared these brilliant radio pitch letter email templates and Alex created the amazing examples. You can just copy these and fill-in-the blanks with your topic or subject matter.
Also, if it isn’t obvious, all of these fabulous formulas double as as story headlines for pitching TV, magazines, newspapers and online to feature you or whatever you’re promoting.
And, if you’re planning on attending the National Publicity Summit (the event where you get to meet the media in person and pitch all the big TV and radio show producers face-to-face), these will be a big help to get prepared.
(Please forward this email to anyone you think it would help).
1. Radio Pitch Letter Template #1: Is/Are __________ getting too ___________?
Here’s how you might apply it:
Show Pitch: “Are China & India getting too many of our jobs?”
Show Pitch: “Are parents ruining their kids by letting them get away with too much?”
Alex notes: “This formula can be used any time you identify something that’s gotten out of control … or could be getting out of control. It opens up a debate because regardless of what position you take, others will oppose you … which is exactly what you want. Remember, radio shows love anything controversial.”
2. Radio Pitch Letter Template #2: The ___ toughest questions your _________will ever ask you … and how to answer them without getting
Here’s how you might apply it:
Show Pitch: “The 5 toughest questions your kids will ever ask you … and how to answer them without getting into trouble.”
Show Pitch: “The 3 toughest questions your attorney will ever ask you … and how to answer them without getting into trouble.”
Alex notes: “This is one of the best and most universally applicable pitch formulas around. You could fill in that blank with virtually anyone. Banker, accountant, spouse, wedding planner, in-laws, doctor etc., etc.
3. Radio Pitch Letter Template #3: These ____ common ____________ actually do more harm than good!
Here’s how you might apply it:
Show Pitch: “These 3 common apologies actually do more harm than good!”
Show Pitch: “These 5 common forms of excercise actually do more harm than good!”
Alex Notes: “Why is this formula so compelling? Because it goes against the conventional wisdom. It says that something that everyone thinks is a good thing … is actually not a good thing at all. This really catches the media’s attention. They absolutely love these kinds of pitches. They are guaranteed to grab a producer’s attention virtually every time …
BTW when you attend the summit you’ll have a chance to get a 1 sheet media makeover with Alex in person (free). Be sure not to miss it as this is his genius. I was stunned with what he did with mine…
One of my goals this year is to give more things away. This is a carefully curated treasure trove of free goodies that will help you and your business move into the public eye gracefully with more ease and fun.
Click on the image and you’ll be whisked to the right place to download a PDF or register for a training.
NOTE: Some trainings aren’t offered at this time. But register anyway and you’ll be notified the next time they run.
I forgot the mention my favorite Instagram feed. This one always makes me laugh and feel good. So if you’re feeling low, and like everything is just too darn much, head over here for a jolt of joy. Then once uplifted you can move forward.
Still thinking about your New Years’ Resolutions? Some more things to ponder from past years here and here.
I just did a radio interview and totally muffed it.
It was a huge disaster.
I didn’t take my own advice – and even some of the advice I’d planned to talk about – on how to interrupt someone!
I completely forgot in the moment.
Here’s what happened…
The phone rang on my landline. There was music. Then the host came on and shared a short bio about me. He didn’t mention the topic of the interview – which he had requested: 5 Essential Assertiveness Skills Your Daughter Needs to Know to Become an Entrepreneur/Executive Tomorrow.
Long story short he first told me the advice I gave was essential full of sh-t. But he misinterpreted my answer and I couldn’t understand what he was asking me or what he objected to. His questions made no sense. Then he went on a tirade, actually about five of them, about how bad parents were. How both parents were terrible human beings because they both worked and let their kids run wild. And that kids today were cr-ap too. I had to disagree and did so a number of times.
I got in 2 out of 5 of my points in 35 minutes. Not a good track record.
I’ve done dozens of radio and TV interviews, but I was still at a loss of how to break in to his blitherings that went all over the place – and had nothing to do with our topic.
My advice to myself, clients and course participants after every interview? Review it and note what you did well and what you could improve next time. And be kind to yourself (I need work here, too). Boy do I have a long list of improvements.
There is so much to learn about pitching the media, following up, and then being a great guest. The kind of guest that your audience and the media loves. And there are more opportunities than ever for you to be a part of the good news, sharing your advice, your perspective, your opinion and how your products, courses or consulting can help others.
Here is my advice on how to be kind to yourself and consistently get better every media appearance.
Getting media attention – especially the right kind of attention – is something of an art. Whether you’re a celebrity, a business owner, or a politician, it’s all about finding an angle. And not just that – you have to be able to get a reporter’s attention in the first place. This can be easier said than done.
Bear in mind that reporters and media journalists are solicited hundreds of times a day. Their email inboxes are virtually overflowing. So if you want their attention, you need to go about it in the right way. You need to stand out from the crowd – even if that means taking an unconventional approach.
Google is an amazing resource to unearth useful information about the reporter, what they cover, and how they like to be approached.
A good place to start your ‘Googleathon’ is social media. See how they interact with others online, and whether they regularly interact with others pitching them ideas. You can also look to their work bio to see if they specify preferences.
There are different schools of thought on the best way to approach a reporter with an idea for a story. They may prefer email, Twitter, or a good old-fashioned phone call. In the unlikely event that they aren’t present on social media, you can defer to phone or email.
HOT TIP: look out for any pet peeves they regularly complain about. Take note as well of the current issues that they’re tweeting or retweeting. See if there’s any common ground you can use to help build a connection. Maybe you have a product that might help? Or maybe you feel the same way about a social issue?
Ultimately, if you already have a feel for the reporter and what s/he likes and dislikes, you have a better chance of reaching out to them successfully.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that attempting to reach out and get the attention of a reporter is much like modern dating. Thanks to online dating, we often have a chance to find out about someone before we decide to approach them. When we do decide to make a move, the opening line is critical.
Tinder lines can be hilariously terrible. They can also be downright dull. Mastering the art of a good opener is paramount if you’re serious about looking for love online. And if you’re serious about getting your story picked up by the media, then it’s equally crucial.
‘Hey, how are you?’ is a great way to get ignored by a journalist. It does nothing to spark their curiosity. It lacks creativity and fails to disclose your reason for getting in touch.
Powerful subject lines for an opening email are:
Remember, your pitch must immediately rouse the reporter’s interest. An effective subject line really is half the challenge. Check out these top 10 email subject line formulas for inspiration. You may be surprised to learn that in some cases, “profanity f*cking works”.
Journalists also love data — so put your best foot forwards and give them some awesome data for free. Running an ecommerce business? Why not send out some surveys to your customers via social media and email to find out more about their habits? From family life and holidays, to food habits and leisure — there are plenty of useful insights and stories lurking out there.
Play it cool
Yep – the online dating metaphor still stands. When you’re building a relationship with a reporter, timing is important. Journalists are busy people with full schedules, and your clinginess will not be appealing to them.
Be respectful of what the reporter already has on their plate. Realize that when you send them a pitch, they’re probably not going to be able to respond right away – unless you’re very lucky and caught them at exactly the right moment. Give them at least a few days to respond before following up.
If the story is especially time-sensitive, then you need to make this clear when you reach out to them first time around. Conveying urgency is another great way to get a reporter’s attention.
weird ways to get a reporter’s attention. source: pexels
Send them a video
Video is changing how we create and consume news. Journalists know it, and if you can help them source quality video content, then they’re going to be very happy with you indeed. Here in 2017, video content represents 74% of all internet traffic (Source).
So if you want to give your story a boost and make it more likely to hit the headlines, consider sending a video along with your pitch. 4X as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than to read about it – and the same goes for news stories. News publications love video because it encourages readers to stay on the page for longer.
Making a vaguely professional-looking video doesn’t have to be hard. There are lots of great apps out there for making videos, including iMovie, PowerDirector, and LumaFusion.
Be willing to let it go
With time stacked against them, most reporters will probably require a follow-up a few days after you’ve pitched them your story. In most instances, they’ll probably appreciate the reminder — always with added ‘new’ information that’s of value to them — not, “Did you get my email about…”.
However, if you’ve already chased them a couple of times and received nothing but stony silence in return, you might need to try a different approach, angle, or twist on the topic. You can also ask if your pitch might be a better fit with someone else at their organization.
The risk is that you may not necessarily get the answer you’re looking for. But by putting it out there in a gentle way, such as “seems like this wasn’t a perfect fit for you – unless I hear otherwise, I will run a different idea by you soon.
If you are looking to promote something time-sensitive like a product launch or a new ecommerce venture, you are going to have to plan ahead and be mindful of editorial deadlines you can tell them that you’re offering it to them first. And if they pass you can move on to the next top person on your media list. Whether you build a store from the ground up, or invest in a readymade one, make sure that your branding and content is on-point enough to appeal to busy journos. A good pitch from a badly formulated brand may go to waste — so make sure you cover all bases.
Of course, if all else fails, and you really will stop at nothing to get that reporter’s attention, you can try one the following:
Hire a banana costume and do a little dance outside their office window
Pay a movie theater to play a pre-recorded video of your pitch after the ads at a movie you know they’re going to see (because they posted about it on social media)
Accidentally bump into them on the bus while holding a basket of kittens
Heroically save them from falling into a pond
Disclaimer: These methods are not tried and tested. I hold no responsibility for them going wrong.
We need the attention of reporters for all sorts of reasons. Maybe you’re trying to make a story or piece of content go viral. Perhaps you just bought an online business and you want brand coverage. Possibly you’ve found yourself in the public’s bad books, and you need a bit of good publicity. Whatever the reason, it helps to know how to go about it. Hopefully these suggestions have been useful.
Vicky is a freelance writer and ecommerce marketing consultant. She loves being part of the brand growth hacking process and producing real, measurable results. In her spare time, Vicky shares her knowledge by writing for a variety of digital publications.
Steve Harrison talked for a bit about how to approach journalists and producers to get the best results.
Then dozens of them (from the Today Show to Dr. Oz) filed into the room and each told us what was most important for them. How they wanted to be pitched, their pet peeves, and ideas about how to get their attention.
After that they marched into another room and then we all stood in line for the media we had chosen to pitch them for 2.5 minutes each. Whoa! Mind spin! Eureka!
How to pitch the media
Here are the 5 Best Pitching Tips From Journalists and Producers:
1. Prove you’re an expert.
Some producers of major TV shows wanted 3-5 words in the subject line shows you are an expert for your topic. Example: “Female pediatrician from Chicago… FILL IN YOUR IDEA HERE.
Many asked me to be sure to link to my media appearances when I followed up with them. While others told me that they could see that I’d make a good guest — by the way I pitched them in person.
Remember that we get who you are in just 1/4 of a second — a blink of an eye — called thin slicing. The next 30 seconds is proof of an initial impression—which will be proven out in your demo video on your press kit page. Make sure you have one.
National TV appearance demo video
2. Be available immediately.
One journalist bemoaned the fact that he often received email pitches he was interested in, but when he responded immediately with a call he was greeted with…silence. No one answered his call. No one called right back. We often think we’re an incredible, irreplaceable expert. But that’s just not true.
Since journalists are often on demanding deadlines they can’t necessarily wait for the most qualified source. “Be available the same day you send the email,” he advised. “The person who answers the phone first gets in the story.”
3. Create controversy.
Can you make a “fight” sheet? A series of statements where you state why you disagree with the status quo or something another expert said? There is a time to be inflammatory — if it’s true to your brand. Taking a strong stand sets you apart from others fast.
4. Know the production schedule/editorial calendar.
Producers and editors want you to suggest ideas for upcoming shows/articles they’re working on and to be aware of what has already aired/been published. Don’t pitch a story that’s been done!
You can find out what the producers are looking for by searching the “Be on the show” link on many major shows like Dr. Oz. You can find the yearly editorial calendars for magazines on their individual websites. Remember that magazines plan 3-6 months out.
5. Continue connecting.
I can’t tell you how many of the 150 journalists and producers mentioned that it was important to continue to connect with them. Often times your pitch isn’t an exact fit for the time or topic. But it could be in the future. The never ending news cycle gives you a daily opportunity to tweak your topic to fit into whatever happened that day or week.
You may need to reach out 5-10 or more times before your idea lands. When I was a publicist what worked was to be top of mind by staying in touch with a consistent stream of ideas – and then to call when breaking news happened. I often booked my clients this way — simply by staying in touch.
Also, put in your pitch that you’re willing to be a last minute guest. Be ready to hop on a plane to be in a TV studio or call on your landline for a radio show. Guests get waylaid for all kinds of reasons, including something as simple as the weather.
Rick Young, a Madison Square Boxer turned radio host, (who pulled out O’Sensei’s the founder of Aikido’s book The Art of Peace, in his backpack when I told him I was a black belt in Aikido) said, “Start from here you are. Go after your dream. J.K. Rowling started from somewhere. There was a time when we didn’t know who she was. Everyone starts from a time when we didn’t know who they were.”
Oh, and here is the video about nothing Michelle Tennant and I made for you on our lunch break at the summit.
It’s fair to say that America is a fairly divided place right now, with wildly differing ideas about what’s right and wrong. Whatever your views, our blundering, boastful President does seem to have mastered one thing, and that’s showmanship. As he appoints more than a few questionable characters to office, many of us remain distracted by the latest inflammatory statements he’s made on Twitter, or by what’s going on with Celebrity Apprentice. As intelligent entrepreneurs and business owners, here are 8 lessons we can learn from his strengths and weaknesses when it comes to courting publicity.
PR is rooted in positive relationships
Most CEOs respect PR, or at least understand its function. Whatever their feelings towards it, they accept that in positions of high power or visibility, it is necessary. For better or worse, Trump is not most CEOs.
Donald has yet to realize that at the root of PR is a carefully tended network of positive relationships, built on clear and transparent communication. He mistakenly considers himself an ‘expert’ PR person, despite his total lack of tact, sensitivity, or awareness. Let’s not forget, he appointed a hedge fund manager to run his communications office.
For the life of him, Trump cannot seem to hold on to a PR chief, and the reason is quite simple – no self-respecting, professional PR person wants to work for a boss who thinks he can do better, and who will publicly shame you for trying to do your job.
How to apply: Dale Carnegie says in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People: “If You Want to Gather Honey, Don’t Kick Over the Beehive”. In other words, an aggressive approach will get you nowhere. He also says that “Winning friends begins with friendliness” – another simple yet oft forgotten pearl of wisdom. Take a look at this list of the 100 Most Trusted People in America. They are well-liked, charismatic, and many of them are actors. Interestingly, none of them are TV bullies.
Sometimes you need to take an unconventional approach
Some believe that Richard Nixon lost the 1960 presidential race due to his poor TV presence, compared to JFK, who understood the power of the medium. Trump is, of course, no stranger to television, having perhaps more experience with it than any other presidential candidate in history. Throughout his election campaign, he consistently eschewed conventional politics in favor of sensationalism and sound bites, in contrast to Hillary’s more measured approach.
What’s more, while Clinton worked to secure votes across all demographics, Trump lasered in on a specific target audience – white, working class men who had been feeling less represented under the previous Democrat government. In marketing we are often advised to ‘find our niche’, and it seems that the same could be true of politics.
How to apply: There are lots of ways to get unconventional with PR, though it’s no guarantee that just because your campaign is unconventional, it will be a success. From publicity stunts and viral videos, to riding trends and putting out crowdsourcing content, the internet has made it much easier to be imaginative. Check out these Timeless Creative PR Ideas.
If you fake it, you’ll probably get found out
Earlier in Trump’s career, several New York reporters spoke with a John Miller or a John Barron – two supposed PR men who sounded suspiciously like Trump himself. Miller and Barron were particularly insightful, sharing detailed explanations for Trump’s actions and love life, all the while presenting him in the most favorable light possible. You can read the full transcript of one of John Miller’s interviews here.
Of course, these strangely forthcoming sources were none other than Trump himself, and if you read or listen to the interviews, it is startlingly, ridiculously apparent. At one point, he even forgets to speak in the third person. The lesson here? It should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: don’t pose as your own publicist and expect to get away with it. Oh – and the tan isn’t real either.
How to apply: It’s fairly straightforward really – just be honest and authentic about who you are and what you do. If you don’t fake it in the first place, you don’t get found out. Lance Armstrong was a celebrated road racing cyclist who many people admired, until the doping scandal came out. Likewise, Tonya Harding was a famous figure skater, whose career was left in tatters after she hired a thug to break her rival’s leg. The public hates a cheater, so keep your record squeaky clean.
You must be willing to listen to advice
PR professionals are much like counselors. Their job is to advise the client on the most effective approach to communications, if they want to achieve certain goals. They are a valuable asset to the team, and a smart client will realize the importance of listening to their advice, even if they end up taking a slightly different course of action. A sensible business owner will involve their PR person in all big-picture discussions.
The thing about Trump is, he really doesn’t want anyone’s advice. He wants to do his own thing and he thinks he’s got PR sussed. When Spicer worked at the White House, he griped about his limited access to the President, yet was still blamed when things went wrong.
How to apply: Benjamin Franklin said that “wise men don’t need advice – fools won’t take it”. If you’re attempting to navigate the choppy waters of publicity, it’s better to do it with a legitimate expert at your side. Part of a PR practitioner’s role is to train their clients to effectively face the media, as well as making their client’s reputation as strong as possible. Ultimately, they help to keep you focused and moving towards your goals – with the force of the media on side.
The celebrity phenomenon
Whether your feelings towards Trump are mild or extreme, it can’t be denied that he is something of a sensation. For better or worse (and likely worse), we’ve never had a figure quite like him on America’s political stage. We now live firmly in a culture of celebrity, and Trump – a longstanding TV star and populist bigmouth – is known by everyone. It shouldn’t really come into the equation when you’re running for President – yet it does.
Why? Because with their deity-like status, we listen to what celebrities have to say. So in 21st century America, should we be surprised that a celebrity has managed to become President? It’s wall-to-wall (pun intended) publicity, be it good or bad. Whether you love or despise Trump, he remains a popular topic of conversation – and that’s just what he wants.
How to apply: So how can you find ways to keep people interested in you? To enjoy the kind of engagement that Trump gets online and in the media, it’s all about being engaging and having a stance or opinion that people relate to. Today’s consumers are discerning about which brands deserve their time and attention. Don’t be afraid to start discussions, and fan the flames to keep them going. Experiment to find out what resonates with your audience, and mix up your timing, language, and use of imagery.
He tells it like (he thinks) it is
Trump doesn’t speak the political tongue. Everybody knows that – just look at his Twitter feed. Instead, he seems to say whatever comes into his head, without much of a filter to speak of. Agree with him or not, you always get the jist of what he’s saying. Some politicians do themselves a disservice when they speak in political jargon, alienating the less articulate voters.
Honestly counts for something in PR, even – or especially – if that honesty is controversial. Trump’s followers love him for his willingness to tackle any subject, in particular those that more seasoned politicians dance around.
How to apply: We want your perspective on what matters to you and why it’s important to your audience. Your strong opinion about a topic you care about sets you apart from your competitors who may have a different take – and sets you up as a thought leader. News shows are made up of people proffering different opinions on a topic then backing those opinions with facts, research, or other evidence.
Pick an enemy (or several)
Branding experts will often tell you to identify an enemy and position against them. That enemy doesn’t have to be a person, it could be a system, a state of the world, an injustice, or an opinion. The world’s top brands all have distinct enemies – and Trump is a brand too.
At this point, Trump has made many enemies, and he has a habit of calling them out and going after them. Choosing an enemy gives your campaign a focus – it’s the classic scenario of ‘us vs. them’ that galvanizes large groups of people into action. It’s a great tactic for businesses. Is it a good one for politics? It’s certainly been successful at getting Trump into office, but as to the effects on society and the world, it all starts to feel like a dark and dangerous road.
How to apply: So every brand or personality needs an enemy, but that doesn’t have to be a competitor. It could just as easily be an idea. A nutritionist might position processed food corporations as ‘the enemy’. A pro web designer might frame DIY website builders as ‘the enemy’. For an artisan coffee shop, it might be instant coffee. Whether it’s a belief, an assumption, or a rival business, every beloved brand has something to push against and rally behind.
If you don’t have the instinct for it, leave it to the professionals
Anthony Scaramucci has said that Trump has ‘excellent public relations instincts’. So is that true? He certainly represents something different, and something different – especially in politics – is pretty irresistible. But I would argue that overall, Trump’s PR instincts are fumbling at best, and volatile at worst. And they appear to be getting worse. His weeklong assault on his own attorney general in July was apparently ‘all his idea’. Good one.
Trump is used to the selective media exposure granted by his TV lifestyle, but as President, you are on show 24/7. PR decisions are more critical than ever. The best bosses understand their own strengths and weaknesses, but Trump’s inflated view of himself means he won’t listen to others. From a PR perspective, it will be interesting to see where his ego leads him over the course of his time in office.
Trump famously exaggerates, but if you’re looking to implement his tactics into your own business PR campaign, maybe think twice. Exaggeration and dishonesty are no way to do business – and you will be found out eventually. If you’re trying to get more media attention for your business, here are some good guidelines. What we can take away from his success is the importance of picking an enemy, leveraging social channels, being true to yourself, and being memorable. But we can also learn to become better listeners, better bosses, and better people.
Vicky is a freelance writer and ecommerce marketing consultant. She loves following politics and drawing lessons that can be beneficial in other areas. In her spare time, Vicky shares her knowledge by writing for a variety of digital publications.