In your quest for media traction you’ve now worked out your identity and inherent personality through your God-given face, you’ve handpicked, culled and pruned your associates, you’ve established and weighted the hierarchy of your ‘doing selves’, and expertly blended a potpourri of gestures, intonations and visual queues into a unique ‘cartoon-self’.
Finally, the nose of your fighter jet is the single-minded proposition adjusted to the mood and gap in the market.
Now it’s time to inject yourself into the thick vein of the ever-coursing whitewater rapid ride of the media.
Practically speaking, this means getting your mush on national television, national newspapers, magazines, online – whichever way, and as much as possible!
As 19th-century American showman and circus owner, Phineas T. Barnum said: “All publicity is good publicity”. And “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about”.
At this juncture, since no one knows who you the hell you are, the key lever is to pitch yourself in the form of cold calls to planning desks of TV and radio news channels if it’s a day in advance – or the news desks, if it’s the same day, as a world expert – the number 1 person to talk to – in whatever it is that’s trending in the news at any given time.
One paid subscription service, amongst many, to help reverse-engineer your media exposure is a type of Tinder for journalists and story subjects to ‘get it on’ and not waste too much time with foreplay.
For instance, a Metro journalist might post something like “I’m looking to hear from business owners who are worried about how the cost of living crisis will affect their livelihood, for a sensitive feature. Can you help?’”. Then the right story ‘dating match’ will be found from suitors, with you of course being one of the most eligible.
‘Attacking’ trending stories on Twitter or the BBC website is the key tried and tested technique. You can get an idea what wave is rising through the rankings of ‘Most read’ stories.
A frontline journalist will always take your call and give you at least 3-5 seconds to state your case and why you are the world’s number 1 expert in Pig husbandry. They’re not doing their job if they’re not screening everything that comes their way. They have to, because they wouldn’t want to miss out on a fleck of gold from a gold panning exercise.
The key then is to immediately follow up this verbal call with a written note – sort of like an emotionally charged one-line, screamy, impactful tweet, with an email including your mobile contact.
This can be left with them to ferment and 10 or 20 minutes later you may get an email or call back to grill you some more on what you might say if interviewed.
Sometimes it might be somewhat immediate.
Remember if a story breaks about ‘Milk, Cheese and Eggs Pushing UK inflation to a 14-year high’, the bookers will be scrambling around looking for experts like farmers to personify this niche of a niche.
This might be no easy round hole to fit your square peg into, but if you can, then do it.
Something well worth noting. These days, people fearing rejection typically text, Whatsapp and email only. If you actually strike up the courage to actually talk to a media booker on the phone (yes, often they will rudely slam the phone down on you!), your convertibility really does go up 500%!
Sometimes a less direct, in-your-face approach works better than the straight cold call.
A hard-hitting written statement of around 50-100 words with your view about a trending news story can be bashed out to a BCC list or tailored journalistic contacts – so no one knows who else you’ve pitched the same story to. Then a quick tailored biography should be dropped in underneath it about who you are with reference to you being ‘Britain’s number 1 at this’ or ‘the world’s number 1 at that’.
Even if you feel like all of this is falling on deaf ears, you’ll be surprised how often your email is saved – with journalists seemingly randomly coming back to you again at a different time on a different day on a different story, sometimes even a month later, but with a different story.
Don’t be fooled into thinking the news is actually new. It’s not. It’s actually the ‘olds’. The same stories bounce around day after day – just with different skins on them.
While a newspaper like The Times, The Daily Express, The Daily Telegraph or The Guardian publishes an average of 1200 stories, graphics and videos each day, the front few pages are where the action lies and the opportunity to inject into the narratives.
Television and radio news outlets focus on no more than 10 stories and repeat these same stories all day albeit with occasional updates.
All stories are constantly being repurposed over and over again.
So, now take the catch totally and utterly off. Go unbridled.
To get into the flow and make yourself properly newsworthy, relax, and somewhat ‘let loose’.
Irish businessman Michael O’Leary, MD of Ryanair has punched seriously above his weight for years getting way more column inches than his company naturally deserves – regularly puncturing his way into the news agenda.
‘UK airport chaos due to Brexit ‘shambles’ says Ryanair boss’.
‘Ryanir boss Michael O’Leary: ‘Boris Johnson is an idiot of the highest order’.
‘Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary slams government over energy payments’.
‘Ryanair will not fly from Heathrow while I live and breathe’.
‘Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary on the need to burn more coal’.
‘Ryanair CEO lashes out at Dutch government’.
The other thing to remember is the golden rule of advertising. The three times rule.
The simple formula was used heavily in the past through paid TV spots to hit the largest segment at the same time. Ad agencies bought a media schedule that would serve up a 30-second TV spot three times to an audience, on the basis that the repeat exposure would mean that then, and only then would the message get through to the person.
Thomas Smith wrote a guide called Successful Advertising in 1885. The saying he used is still being used today.
‘The first time people look at any given ad, they don’t even see it.
The second time, they don’t notice it.
The third time, they are aware that it is there.
The fourth time, they have a fleeting sense that they’ve seen it somewhere before.
The fifth time, they actually read the ad.
The sixth time they thumb their nose at it.
The seventh time, they start to get a little irritated with it.
The eighth time, they start to think, “Here’s that confounded ad again.”
The ninth time, they start to wonder if they’re missing out on something.
The tenth time, they ask their friends and neighbours if they’ve tried it.’
And on and on it goes…
This is the same with media bookers.
At first you feel like you’re shooting blanks. But if you’re polite and succinct and state your case, the three times rule kicks in with the bookers just as it does with consumers of advertising messages as the bookers build familiarity with your personal brand.
What makes your life a whole lot easier is planning ahead.
You can easily search out the United Nations official dates and diary all of these.
Or you can get more forensic and subscribe to a news planning diary service like Foresight News which tells the editors – and now you – which Government white papers, which red carpet film premieres and which King’s message is being released, days, weeks and even months in advance of the news wave breaking.
You can then calmly ring a planning desk and explain why you are the best talking head for the job – well in advance of the maddening crowds chasing buses.
Just make sure your point of view or opinion is not particularly nuanced but instead very strongly on one side of the argument or the other.
Often they will want a single voice to provide an expert view.
But overall, all news organisations at least try to create the impression of a balanced debate.
The way they generally exhibit bias on issues is whether they let a debate on the news at all. Bias by ommission.
But if a story is being covered, they will always set two distinctly opposing views off against each other. You could take either seat at the table.
You clearly need to be hugely flexible, nimble and savvy about getting your business plugged when coat-tail riding a story which is not necessarily bang-on up your street – eventhough you’ve made out it is!
On National Allotment Day last year, I had The Black Farmer, Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones (pictured) live on BBC Breakfast from an allotment in West London at 7am in the morning. His backstory was that he started out working on his father’s allotment in Birmingham. It was what ‘gave him his introduction to farming’. The organisers of the National Allotments campaign were surprised when I called them for statistics to pad out my pitch, but pleased that my allotment gatecrash for The Black Farmer helped them to achieve national TV exposure in front of millions of people watching breakfast television.
There is literally a conveyor belt of CEO’s with profiles that do the rounds every day on business shows like The Ian King Show on Sky News and CNBC’s Squawk Box.
All of them get to stage dive into millions of waiting viewers because they’re prepared to attack something trending in the news.
The key to all of this is that once you have appeared even once in the national media you have a digital, media-born version of yourself.
You have presence.
You are flesh and bone. But at the same time you are also a media asset. A sort of Avatar.
Gamifying yourself as a character that can now play in the media jungle.