If you got an email today from a local news station asking to interview you as an expert on camera about one of your specialty areas for a news story, how would you respond? Surprisingly, many therapists let the opportunity to speak on camera for a large audience pass them by because of their own anxieties and insecurities about being on camera. Landing interviews on local news and talk shows allows thousands of people "get to know you," hear about your areas of expertise, and become aware of your private practice.
In my experience, the most effective marketing and public relations opportunities for my private practice are the ones I don't have to pay for, where someone else is featuring me as an expert, where I can reach thousands and thousands of people in one shot with accurate information, and where I can let them know that I am in private practice. Several years ago I decided I wanted to not just accept invitations to interview on TV but to actively seek them out and gain media experience. Over the past few years I've become a regular contributor on Utahs #1 women's lifestyle show KSL TV's Studio 5, as well as being interviewed frequently for various news stories. Here are a few things I've learned in the process to help you land local TV interviews in your area in order to educate your community and to draw potential clients to your private practice.
1) Know what's 'newsworthy'
When pitching stories or interview topics to local TV stations it's crucial to know what they're looking for. The fact that you're going into private practice specializing in family therapy isn't newsworthy, but news and other TV shows might be interested in getting your thoughts on a new study showing how cultivating self-compassion helps individuals manage divorce. Last week I was invited to share my thoughts on KSL TV evening news on the topic of interest to families - "Can a playground be too safe?" This story was prompted by a recent story published in the New York Times.
MediaCollege.com defines a story as newsworthy if it has the following characteristics:
Timing - News is all about stories that are current and new. Significance - Something that affects large numbers of people. Proximity - An event happening close to home. Prominence - Involves someone famous or well-known. Human Interest - Appeals to emotion, novel, off-beat, interesting.
- Watch national news headlines. Pitch a local spin on those stories to local TV producers.
- Suggest seasonal topics. Pitch interviews around managing holiday stress, or Halloween safety tips for children in October.
- New research is "news." Keep an eye out for interesting research that's relevant to your practice and offer to interview.
2) Know how to write a press release
When pitching to media you need to speak their language, which means learning how to write a press release.
- A press release needs to be in a specific press release format. Here's an excellent example at EReleases.com.
- Read other releases. Here's a release I helped one of my therapists at Wasatch Family Therapy, LLC write last week based on her dissertation research, Mean Girls Get Married: Teens Don't Always Grow Out of Mean Girl Behavior and End Up Using Emotional Manipulation On Spouse.
- Don't send attachments. When you email it to local news and TV producers cut and paste it in the body of the email, and do not send as an attachment.
3) Know how to make their job easier
TV reporters, producers, and journalists are extremely busy and always on a deadline. They don't have time to calm your anxiety or to walk you through the interview process.
- Respond ASAP to interview requests. If you get contacted by your local media respond immediately or the opportunity will pass you by. Decide ahead that you'll say "yes."
- Send only relevant information. Highlight the most important information you'd like to talk about and a brief line or two about you and your practice or your basic message (remember my elevator speech posts?). Through a brief stint as a producer and host of a local lifestyle TV show I learned what makes a good and a difficult interviewee. One of the hardest parts of screening potential guests was skimming through too much information hunting for the relevant points.
- Limit your correspondence. Respect the reporter, journalist or producers time. Though getting a TV interview might be a big deal for us, as the therapist, it's just one of many details they are trying to juggle.
- Do your homework. Understand the demographic for a given newscast or TV show so you can pitch relevant and helpful topics.
In upcoming articles I'll give tips on how to look and sound good on camera, how to maximize your TV interviews to draw potential clients to your practice, and tips to turn a one time TV appearance into a regular gig.
Have you been on local TV? I'd love to hear about your experience. How did it go? What do you wish you'd known beforehand? If you have any questions for me feel free to comment below or ask me on Twitter @Julie_Hanks or contact me directly here.