Q: How can I generate PR by radio interviews, and what do I say if I get one?
A: Just like the publishing of your press release in a publication, radio PR is free advertising. And just like PR in a publication, some of the same considerations must be given to radio PR.
In a publication, a directed press release needs to be newsworthy. At the least, it has to be of interest to the readership of the publication. In radio, a radio interview must be of interest to the "listenership." You don't interview a business author on a home and gardening show. You don't interview a public official on a technology and computer show. And just like publication PR, interviews and news items are generated by press releases-so don't forget to add your local radio stations to your press release distribution list.
One way to generate a radio interview is to attach a list of frequently asked questions to your release that are pertinent to the topic. In most situations, the host of the radio show will read from your list of questions and lead you through the discussion of your topic. One thing to remember, regardless of the questions the host decides to use, is that you must always have a key message. You should plan it out in advance. Just like PR in a publication, this is not purely promotional. If you land a radio interview and turn it into an on-air sales pitch, consider it your last interview at that station and a guarantee to turn off your audience. During your interview, use that key message as something to refer back to. Your audience will remember you and your key point if you make it more than once.
Prepare yourself for curve balls thrown by the interviewing host. Don't expect him to read your FAQ sheet verbatim or go in order. Practice with someone much like you would for a vocabulary test. Try not to always say, "That's a good question." That usually implies that your answer will not be as good as expected.
During the course of the interview, you are considered the expert of your topic, so talk with confidence and use facts. Tentative answers and conjecture will flop the interview.
It's OK to say, "I'm not sure about the answer to that" or "I don't know." Just use this as an opportunity to bring the host back to your key points and messages.
Never answer a question from the host with a question. That also spells doom in the radio interviewing business. The host typically wants to do less work than you during the interview. If he has to start answering your questions, he won't be a happy host. And a happy host is a good host in the radio PR world.
Even though you are prepared and you have your list of questions, a question could come your way that will totally throw you off guard. That's why practice is important. Being light on your feet will pay off in these situations.
One more note: If you know of the interview ahead of time, don't forget to issue a press release announcing your slot on the station. This will double the effect of your PR.
Radio stations have a lot of time to fill. Listen to how many subjects they cover during a particular time slot on the radio. Multiply this by all the radio stations in the country and the time slots during the day. There's a greater demand for radio appearances that generate radio PR than you think. Contacting the producer of each show via a press release is the start of your radio media relationships. The good news is, if you're good in your interview, you will be asked back. You can also offer yourself as an emergency backup if a particular guest doesn't show or runs into a conflict.
Radio PR is there for the asking. Working and focusing on the asking will publicize you and your business.
Alfred J. Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant, direct-mail promotion specialist, principle of marketing consulting firm Marketing Now, and president and owner of The Ink Well, a commercial printing and mailing company in Wheaton, Illinois. Visit his Web sites at http://www.market-for-profits.comand http://www.1-800-inkwell.com, or e-mail him at email@example.com.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.
Al Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant and direct-mail promotion specialist. He's also the principle of Market For Profits, a Chicago-based marketing consulting firm. His two latest books, Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days and The Ultimate Guide to Direct Marketing are available at www.entrepreneurpress.com.