In this episode, Stacy sits down with experienced media professional, Alex Lyman. The two discuss how to sell yourself as an industry expert and thought leader, and they cover the important role that honesty, transparency, and building trust play in promoting your brand.
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Welcome to Marketing Mistakes And How To Avoid Them. I’m Stacy Jones, the founder of influencer marketing and branded content agency, Hollywood Branded. This podcast provides brand marketers a learning platform for topics first to share their insights and knowledge on topics which make a direct impact on your business today.Stacy Jones: 00:16
While it is impossible to be well versed on every topic and strategy that can improve bottom line results, my goal is to help you avoid making costly mistakes of time, energy, or money, whether you’re doing a DIY approach, or hiring an expert to help. Let’s begin today’s discussion.
Speaker 2: 00:30
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes And How To Avoid Them. Here’s your host, Stacy Jones.
Stacy Jones: 00:36
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes And How To Avoid Them. I’m Stacy Jones. I’m so happy to be here with you all today. I want to give a very warm welcome to Alex Lyman. Alex is a media professional with a career that’s spanned television and print news, independent films, market writing, blogging, media coaching, and business consulting.
Stacy Jones: 00:51
She’s been an editor and producer at ABC 40 and Fox 6, a blogger for the Huffington Post, and contributed a wide variety of blogs and business podcasts. Today we’re going to talk about how small businesses can more effectively promote their brand by pitching themselves as an industry expert and thought leader, and provide valuable information to viewers about their area of expertise.
Stacy Jones: 01:11
Instead of taking out an ad and focusing on selling, you can build trust with an audience, and by giving them something they can use, we’re going to discuss how to use that role with honesty, transparency, and building trust, and how it plays into selling your own voice. We’ll learn [inaudible 00:01:25] from Alex’s experience, what maybe could be avoided, and where people are missing the mark. Alex, welcome.
Alex Lyman: 01:30
Hi, Stacy. Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited.
Stacy Jones: 01:34
I am super excited to have you here too today. Because I so strongly believe in what you are telling. I cannot tell you how much I think it’s important for businesses of all sizes to have their spokespeople out there front and center so that they can get the media attention that they want and they deserve.
Alex Lyman: 01:53
Absolutely. That’s sort of how it came about for me, just working in the media, and when people found out that I was in the media, they were like, “Oh, how can I get coverage? Why didn’t they come to my events?” And I kind of got that pain point very quickly in my career, that people don’t understand how it works, and how they can really run with those opportunities in the media, should they [inaudible 00:02:14].
Stacy Jones: 02:15
So, how did you get started with all of this? Can you give us a little bit about your background, and what got you to where you are today?
Alex Lyman: 02:23
Sure. So, journalism is my first love. It always has been. Television news was always on in our house, for some reason, and that really made an impact on me. I always was a writer as a child, and that was always my strong point in school. And it wasn’t really until high school, I got a little older, that I realized I really wanted to pursue journalism. It’s very important to me, and I loved all the reporting aspects, and the technical aspects, and the whole thing’s so interesting to me.
Alex Lyman: 02:50
So I went to college for communication, which I am obsessed with that degree. I had so much fun, and I learned so many things, and I thought, “This is what a career should be. Something that you love and you feel like you can run with in so many different directions.” So that was sort of how I started.
Alex Lyman: 03:06
I started in television news right after graduation as an assignment editor and producer, and those are probably two of the most challenging jobs in the newsroom, because the assignment editor really is looking for story ideas, looking for people that the reporters can talk to, assigning those stories to reporters, and chasing the breaking news, really.
Alex Lyman: 03:26
And I was promoted to producer, and they actually write the whole entire show, make sure everything runs on time, they communicate with talent in the field. It’s very in depth, and there’s a lot to it, and at some point, I actually wound up coming back to alma mater, which is Western New England University.
Alex Lyman: 03:43
I’m currently the senior copywriter in the division of marketing and enrollment, which is a really fun job for me as an alum, because I get to basically get students excited about potentially coming here, and really talking about my experience, and how other students can have a really great four years here as well.
Alex Lyman: 04:01
And what sort of happened with that was that I wound up getting … When you work for a college, they will often pay for your master’s degree, which is a fabulous perk. I tell everybody, if you can work at a college for a little bit and get your graduate degree, that’s a really great thing to do.
Alex Lyman: 04:17
And I got that in business, which I always felt like I was missing a business education. I loved my communication degree, and I really got what I needed out of that, but I said, “I need this business perfected, because I’m doing freelancing, and doing some things on the side, and it would be really helpful to have some of that business knowledge as well.”
Alex Lyman: 04:34
So I got that, and soon, probably even before I finished, we had some student entrepreneurs on campus who were directed to me. They had a really great concept for a business and a product, and they were doing so well with getting the grants, and the funding. And they were looking for ways to put themselves out into the media and sort of get the buzz going, and potentially bring in more money as they were starting their business.
Alex Lyman: 05:00
And that’s sort of how it really started for me was, I sat down with this group of students, and I started mapping out how to write a press release, and the different places that they could promote their brand, and their product, and it sort of just snowballed from there. And these students are actually very well-connected in kind of our local entrepreneurship community, and they started referring people to me, and it sort of just snowballed from there.
Alex Lyman: 05:25
I’ve kind of been handling a lot of people’s PR, and their social media, and their writing, and that’s kind of how I wound up here. I realize that I can apply a lot of things to my clients, but I can also kind of share those to the public, which is what I really enjoy doing.
Stacy Jones: 05:40
That’s awesome. You have, basically, two jobs that are really closely aligned, but totally separate.
Alex Lyman: 05:46
Yes. Like I was just saying to my boss, telling her that I was doing this podcast, everything that I’ve done really has intersected super well in a really fun and exciting way, and there’s no limit to what I feel like I can accomplish. So it’s a really exciting industry for me.
Stacy Jones: 06:02
That’s awesome. Well, so, let’s talk a little bit about the first steps. So, someone wants to get some exposure for themselves. What’s the first thing they need to do?
Alex Lyman: 06:16
The first thing is, it’s probably the hardest thing, is really taking a hard look at yourself. How are you going to pitch yourself as an expert, an industry thought leader, those sorts of things? And now, if you’re an entrepreneur, you are an expert in technically two places, because you’re an expert in the industry that you’re in, whether that’s tech, or being an influencer, or a certain product area.
Alex Lyman: 06:40
But you’re also an expert being an entrepreneur, because entrepreneurship is so hot right now, and everybody’s always looking for advice, and everybody’s sharing their experiences in the hopes of helping others. So that’s two areas and two different functions. So you can look at those two areas and kind of start crafting a message. What is it that you want to share with the media?
Alex Lyman: 07:02
Now, keep in mind, this is not a sell. This is not a sell at all, because news is not in the business of advertising. If you want to sell your product, or sell your services, buy an ad and be done with it. That’s probably easier bet at this point. Because when you’re being this thought leader, this is more of a marathon strategy.
Alex Lyman: 07:21
It’s a long term strategy. It’s not something that you can be on the news today, and you’re going to see a quick turnaround tomorrow on the ROI. That’s not really how it works. It’s really important that you show that you’re an expert and that your business is viable, because you know what you’re doing, and as you make these appearances and get people in the community to know and trust you, that’s when, if they need your services down the line, they might be like, “Those people on TV that I see all the time, they seem to know what they’re doing.”
Alex Lyman: 07:50
So it’s really not about the sell. So you have to be super, super careful of that. Although, they might give you the chance, depending on the situation, to kind of mention what you have coming up. Again, it very much depends. But don’t really push that unless you’re asked. So it’s really important that you hone that message. I like to not act out scenarios, but consider different scenarios that you could be in in an interview.
Alex Lyman: 08:14
If you’re a tech company, and this is something I see a lot, is when there’s a credit card hack, or different things going on in the tech industry, the local tech people come in and they can talk about that super knowledgeably, and it works really well. But there’s other areas of tech that could kind of show up in the breaking news, so you want to make sure you’re very well versed in your industry and different areas, because you could really be asked anything. You have to have an answer, otherwise you don’t look like an expert anymore.
Alex Lyman: 08:43
And that’s a news person’s favorite thing, especially in local news, is that they like to take the big news from the nation and the world and localize it. So you’re kind of being a local expert, so you have to know what you’re talking about before you do one thing, otherwise you’re going to run into problems down the road. The next-
Stacy Jones: 09:02
Perfect. Yes, so, basically, what you’re saying here, really, all this is about building your brand. It is about establishing yourself as a brand, potentially a little separate from the business that you are in, because you’re just establishing that you are an authority, you’re an expert, you are a thought leader, you are someone who is able to take the reigns and respond to questions.
Alex Lyman: 09:24
Yes, absolutely. It’s somebody who’s not going to freeze up on camera. You have a lot to share and contribute that provides value, and that’s the biggest thing, is, how are you going to provide value? Because if you don’t have that, it’s not useful, and they’re going to dump you pretty quick. So that’s really, really important.
Alex Lyman: 09:40
And that’s a really great thing, too, is that you can, if you have coworkers or if you have a friend or family member, you can kind of throw out this message and see, “Is this useful? Is this the best use of our information? Are we sharing things that people are actually interested in?” And get people to be a sounding board.
Alex Lyman: 09:58
Don’t necessarily just be like, “This is my message, and I’m going to run with it.” Test it out a little, and even your clients. Say, “Does this describe us accurately? Is this kind of representative of who we are?” So definitely use people you know as a sounding board before you ever step foot into the interview.
Stacy Jones: 10:15
Perfect. And then you were about to say the next thing that you would suggest to …
Alex Lyman: 10:20
The next thing. I was really excited about this, because I get very upset about this, I’ll admit, is that you really need to create an easy to read press release. And your contact information needs to be right at the top or very large so I can’t miss it. Because what happens is, when you’re in news, you are inundated with hundreds of press releases every single day. You might not read all of them, because it’s just too many, and it’s not manageable.
Alex Lyman: 10:49
So, please, please, please make it easy on your producers, and your reporters, to find out how to contact you if they’re interested. And kind of how I like to build a press release, at least in this situation, is that I’ll kind of work backwards. But your last paragraph should be your bio, your about me, which is basically, what’s your experience, and what makes you an expert. Right? We need to know kind of what your credentials are, and are you legit? That’s how we’re going to know, is kind of of going through your about me paragraph.
Alex Lyman: 11:22
Alternatively, if you’re representing a company, a little blurb about your company can be last, and then your about me can be second to last. And then, again, moving backwards, talk about … It depends, too, if there’s a certain breaking news situation in your area. What’s the topic you can talk on, and if it’s a multi-perspective issue, what side of the issue are you on?
Alex Lyman: 11:48
Make it very clear, because journalists have to try to get different perspectives. They might have somebody to be your opposite, on the opposite side of the table. So be clear about what position you represent, and what you can add to the conversation.
Stacy Jones: 12:02
Do you think that this should be more of a press release, or is it more of a media pitch, which is a little different in format, for our listeners to understand?
Alex Lyman: 12:12
Yeah. It can be. I prefer to use the pitch for if you want to pitch a segment, which is a whole separate conversation. I try to keep the press releases too, and we actually got a lot of really effective ones when I was in news, especially from politicians, actually. They do a really great job of … Because they’re actively campaigning, or hoping to eventually actively campaign for their position, so-
Stacy Jones: 12:38
And they have a viewpoint, too.
Alex Lyman: 12:38
Yes. So they’ll say, “This is where I stand. Let me know if I should …” You know? So I find that to be very, very effective, and I’m like, “Okay, I have my source for side A of this situation.” So that’s pretty much what your press release should be. That’s the structure, is starting with the topic that you can address, and what side you’re on, and then about me, company information, and then your contact information, again, huge.
Alex Lyman: 13:09
Because I’ve gotten so many press releases and in theory, you can email the person back, but they don’t always respond, or things go wrong, and make it as easy as possible, and really, that applies to everything. Anything you can do to make it easier for the reporter and the producer ups your chances of being used.
Alex Lyman: 13:27
It’s a very time sensitive, stressful business, and if you’re not getting back to them to confirm your slot on a show, that gets very stressful, it’s not very fun, and I’ll be like, “You know what? She was a pain last time, you know, I don’t want to go that route.” So all of that stuff matters.
Stacy Jones: 13:43
Wrangling people is not something that you have time to do.
Alex Lyman: 13:46
No. And you have to do a lot of it, and it gets very stressful, and you’re like, “I hope this is going to work out.” So don’t do it. Don’t tempt fate at all. Something else I really, really recommend, and I didn’t realize how much people don’t understand about media in terms of the hours.
Alex Lyman: 14:08
I speak mostly to TV news, but there’s about four shifts throughout the day, and the specific hours chance a little bit, but you have a morning shift that is three or four, to twelve or one in the afternoon, you have your 10:30 to 6:30, you have a 3:30 to midnight, and then you have some sort of overnight. So that’s very important. Reporters get their stories at the very beginning of their shift, so if you’re not getting your press releases in time for that morning shift, that 10:30 meeting is super critical for the rest of the day. You’re going to miss out for that day.
Alex Lyman: 14:43
And be aware of when the newscasts are. And I’m finding that a lot of news stations are adding more newscasts, and switching up the times a little bit, so obviously, check in locally about when they’re having the news. But if you have an event that you’d like them to come to, which is not my favorite form of coverage, but sometimes it can be very effective, if your event is at 6:00 p.m., well, guess what? Everybody’s on the newscast. They’re all working the newscast, except for maybe one reporter and one photographer, if you’re lucky, and if there’s breaking news, that’s where they’re going. They’re not coming to you.
Alex Lyman: 15:17
So, you have to kind of be strategic about when you’re doing these sorts of things, and just understand how you can make their different hours and availability work for you.
Stacy Jones: 15:27
So, what time is a good time to hold an event?
Alex Lyman: 15:30
Well, I would say, in terms of an actual time, I would almost say seven. That’s a really good time. Sometimes during the day. And here’s the thing, especially with events, again, not my favorite form of news coverage, just because there’s so much more you can do with it. But locally, a lot of people have a lot of beloved events that happen every year, so we’ll cover them. So it has its place.
Alex Lyman: 15:59
But if it’s high profile, that’s kind of the one we’re going to first, if there’s a lot of politicians and notorious people around, that’s kind of what we’re going to. Sometimes, during the day, you can get really lucky too, if you have some sort of afternoon events. There’s no perfect time, just because there’s so many factors coming in that are out of your control, so you can kind of just hope for the best, and it’s really out of your control.
Stacy Jones: 16:24
Yeah, and some news and media outlets actually have fee-based segments, depending on the outlet, where a lot of times, they’ll designate that for an event opportunity or something.
Alex Lyman: 16:33
Stacy Jones: 16:33
A larger opportunity.
Alex Lyman: 16:35
Stacy Jones: 16:36
You have to pay for it.
Alex Lyman: 16:37
Yes. That was not the case in the market that I worked in. We always had certain causes that we would be sure to get to every year, if there’s a Relay For Life, or a certain locally, town-based events, like Springfield, the town that the station is in, they have something called The World’s Largest Pancake Breakfast, and it’s a Guinness World Record event, so we make sure to go to that every year. And there’s certain things that you always try to hit no matter what.
Alex Lyman: 17:05
But in terms of the littler, lesser known events, it’s very, very hit or miss, which is another reason why it’s not my favorite. You just kind of cross your fingers and hope.
Stacy Jones: 17:15
You hope for a very, very slow media news day.
Alex Lyman: 17:19
Yes. Absolutely. Something that’s great, though, in terms of the newspapers and digital outlets, though, especially for an event, and you can do this, some of this for TV as well, you can send them a press release, and you can almost write it in a story format, include quotes, include a great picture, send it to your newspaper or your online outlet, and this actually happened to my coworker the other day. He did this, and the newspaper took it almost verbatim. We made it super easy, the story was written, they made a few edits and they put it in, and we got coverage, even though nobody came. [crosstalk 00:17:52].
Stacy Jones: 17:53
Yeah. And even, I think, when you’re engaging with any sort of reporter, if you’re able to do so sometimes, phones are great, but in writing, I have found that I get incredible press coverage when I actually take the time to write multiple paragraphs of my viewpoint, and a lot of times, maybe things will be paraphrased, but a lot of times, it is just smack dab added into that article, quotes and all. And it’s like, “Oh, wow, look. I wrote an article for blah, blah, blah, publication.” Even though I didn’t.
Alex Lyman: 18:24
I didn’t get to buy a line, but they got in there.
Stacy Jones: 18:26
But I get a hyperlink.
Alex Lyman: 18:28
You get a hyperlink. Yeah, that’s really effective, and at Western New England University, we had that happen quite often. Especially if it’s a weekend event, there’s maybe one reporter on, they just can’t make it to everything, but you still have to fill the newscast, so if you’re sending them this information, they might be able to [inaudible 00:18:45] it in a way that it makes it into the newscast, and it is very easy for newspapers.
Alex Lyman: 18:49
So I totally, totally recommend doing that. It’s a really, really great strategy. It works super well, and you can kind of control the story a little bit, and make sure the important parts are focused on.
Stacy Jones: 19:01
Yeah. 100%. What else? What’s the next step?
Alex Lyman: 19:05
What’s the next step? This one is always a interesting one. It’s try to build professional relationships with journalists. Because they’re people too. You might have the local news anchor who seems like a local celebrity, but they have family, they have friends, they’re regular humans.
Alex Lyman: 19:24
My favorite story is when I worked in news, I was texting the anchor, who was pretty well known at the time in our local area, that I was about to work with. I was texting her, and I laughed about something she sent me, and my sister goes to me, “Who are you texting?” And I said, “Oh, Trisha.” And she goes, “Trisha Taskey, the anchor?”
Alex Lyman: 19:44
And I said, “Yes,” and she goes, “So you text her, and she texts you back?” And I was like, “Yes, she’s my coworker like anybody else. She’s a regular person with kids and a family.” So don’t be afraid if you see one in the wild. Strike up the conversation, and that is, when you meet them in person, that’s not always the time to give your pitch.
Alex Lyman: 20:06
Treat them like a new acquaintance, get to know them. Ask about them. Ask about the stories they cover. You’re kind of ending with, “Hey, if you ever need me for X, Y, and Z topic, let me know.” But don’t hit them in the face with it, because usually, if you see them, they’re probably not working. So they don’t necessarily want to talk about work, like the rest of us.
Alex Lyman: 20:26
So, build almost a friendship, or at least a professional relationship, if you can. Get to know what the different journalists cover. Some people will focus more on health, some people will focus more on tech. Some people are really hot on breaking news all the time. Everybody sort of has their little niche they fit into, so especially try to connect with those reporters that specialize in your area, or seem to cover your area pretty often.
Alex Lyman: 20:50
And we all appreciate a good news tip. Some stories come to fruition because somebody gave us a tip. Most news stations have some sort of general email you can send your tip to, and it gets distributed to everybody, but again, once you send that, maybe connect with a certain reporter that you know fits the bill pretty well, and might be a good storyteller for you. Try to be strategic about who you talk to, and how you make that happen.
Stacy Jones: 21:17
I think one of the things that you touched on is, you also need to make sure that the person that you’re reaching out to is the relevant person. Because there’s nothing like knocking on the door of someone and then saying, “Here’s my story, and it’s about tech,” and you’re talking to a beauty editor, right?
Alex Lyman: 21:36
Stacy Jones: 21:36
There’s no aligns, maybe. It’s this really cool beauty new cosmetic that you have that is tech in some way in how it was created, and you can bumble your way into trying to figure that one out, but …
Alex Lyman: 21:48
Yeah. Sometimes, things are indirectly related. You might have to explain a little bit so they understand, and that’s fine. But you have to do that. I think the lines are much more blurred in television these days, because, especially in local news, a lot of people are just what they call general assignment reporters, and they just report on whatever comes out that day. Not as many TV reporters specialize anymore.
Alex Lyman: 22:13
Some people have areas they really like to cover. Even sports isn’t always locally, at least in the North, a separate person anymore. So, those lines are blurred, but still in newspapers, you still have certain editors and certain people who cover certain areas about politics, so just do the research. Look into who you’re trying to contact and try to make it work for them.
Stacy Jones: 22:34
And don’t treat them like a hard sell when you do [crosstalk 00:22:38] them on the street, because you’re going to have that visceral reaction that you’re going to give them, where they just want to cut bait and run. Where they’re like, “I’m out of here. Crazy person. Gone.”
Alex Lyman: 22:48
It feels terrible, too, when people come up to you. You’re like, “Oh, you don’t even care to talk to me. You just want to know what I can do for you,” and really, you should be saying, “What can you do for me? How can you get me a great story for my job that is going to be really great to report on, and really important to my views, and is going to help me kind of have another notch in my career for a really great story?” So you really need to be looking for the triple win, for you, the reporter, and the audience.
Stacy Jones: 23:12
That’s a great way to spin it.
Alex Lyman: 23:14
Yes. So, what else? One thing, too, especially with TV, is don’t let your interview be the first time that you actually work through your talking points. A lot of people think, “Oh, I can talk off the cuff. I do public speaking.” But the minute the camera turns on, they don’t know what to do. What do you do with your hands? Where do you look?
Alex Lyman: 23:37
Those are all the things you should really be testing out beforehand, and that’s something, too, you can … It goes along with honing your message. Figuring out what you want to say and how you want to say it so you’re not stumbling over your words every five minutes.
Alex Lyman: 23:49
But that’s something. You can keep it really simple with another colleague. You can have them practice interviewing you. Record it on your iPhone so you can go back and kind of see, what did you look like when you did it? What did you sound like when you did it? What do you want to tighten up a little bit? Really getting, practicing that real life scenario is super important, and it’ll help you feel so much more prepared.
Alex Lyman: 24:12
You can also hire a media coach who specializes in these sort of things. Especially if you’re having trouble honing your message. If you’re, “I don’t really know what I want to say,” kind of having that outside set of eyes and that outside perspective can really, really help you narrow down what you want to say and what might be useful.
Alex Lyman: 24:29
Because usually, they’re pretty good at coming in and looking from afar and say, “This is what you should talk about. This is what people want to know.” So sometimes just getting that outside perspective is really helpful.
Stacy Jones: 24:39
I think this is just a very quick, great segue. I know that you do media coaching, so [crosstalk 00:24:43] about that?
Alex Lyman: 24:45
Stacy Jones: 24:45
Alex Lyman: 24:46
Usually, what I like to do with media coaching, and really, I span a lot of areas of media coaching, from social media to just doing press releases, interviewing, publicity. Pretty much a little bit of everything. But I really like to have some kind of either a consulting call, or some kind of email where you talk to me about what you’re currently doing, and what some of your pain points are.
Alex Lyman: 25:11
I’ll do my research and kind of try to identify where I think you can elevate. Maybe you’re not doing something now, but you can get to that level. So we have that sort of getting to know you call, and I identify what you need, and what I think maybe I can add to your conversation that maybe you’re not thinking of. And then we go from there.
Alex Lyman: 25:32
If you’re worried about an interview, I can really start to work on specific scenarios with you, and kind of help you practice those talking points. And it’s almost like giving a speech. You give your answer, then I go back and give you feedback, and then you do it again. You practice, so that way it feels very natural when it’s coming out. You might be nervous, so if it’s almost muscle memory, and you can speak with your heart and not have to worry too much about it, that’s usually how it comes out the best.
Alex Lyman: 26:01
And I can really address everything from how you’re sitting, I get a lot of people who slump over, and I’m like, “Don’t do that.” And I really try to give you the full, comprehensive experience with the interview. And the more you practice that, the better you get. So that’s one of my favorite parts, actually. But I can really sit down with your press release, and some people have multiple press releases, or multiple, I should say, multiple templates for different things.
Alex Lyman: 26:28
So I can kind of lay out different templates for you, depending on what your needs are. We can talk about social media and how you’re using that to promote. I write websites. I do a little bit of everything.
Stacy Jones: 26:40
And so, you touched on websites. Is that something that people should be looking at in order to actually create a speaker profile online? Is that something that you think reporters will look at, and if you make it Google SEO friendly, is that a great way to kind of approach one way to be found?
Alex Lyman: 27:00
I think so, yes. If nothing else, your website can be a really comprehensive area dedicated to you. You can put your resume. If you have some kind of sizzle reel, you can put that on there. Some pictures, some areas of interest. Anything that really defines you as a speaker, you’re going to have it all in one place. So if nothing else, when you pitch yourself, you can say, “For more information, go here.”
Alex Lyman: 27:25
And for me, when I was a producer and I did newspaper reporting as well, I liked to click those links. But sometimes, when you get a press release, especially if it’s a press release where if you don’t know the person, and you feel a little blind about the whole situation, there are people that kind of come in and maybe aren’t the most legitimate, so you do want to go back and make sure.
Alex Lyman: 27:45
And if you have that website, and your resume, and I can kind of search you online and check out your social media, check out your website and get a feel for who you are, that’s going to make me feel much more comfortable using you as a source. So that’s something I would totally recommend.
Stacy Jones: 28:01
And another thing is, we’ve dealt with this quite a bit, actually, where we’ve represented individuals and they’re like, “I want to …” And when I say we’ve represented individuals, we represent corporations, my agency. It’s just, by happenstance, we end up representing individuals, because we’ll represent a cosmetic, aesthetic, medical, laser light device, and so now, we are actually placing their doctors, who are their spokespeople, right, on everything.
Stacy Jones: 28:28
So now, right, so now, all of a sudden, I’m representing people, even though I thought I was representing a laser machine. But that’s okay, right? Yeah. But what we’ll find is, and if you’re a doctor, if you’re expert, if whoever you are, in all of our listeners here, if you haven’t had the opportunity to do TV, you’re not going to be able to do national television before you’ve actually started doing local television.
Stacy Jones: 28:53
It’s super important, because the bigger you go, the higher you go, the more proof is in the pudding, and as Alex mentioned, having a sizzle reel. That is so super important so that people can actually see what you’re going to be like on camera, and that you’re not going to freeze and be mousy, or that you’re going to have crazy hand gestures all over the place and hop around, or that you’re going to keep interrupting someone. All of those things are super important.
Alex Lyman: 29:21
I totally, totally agree. You have to start smaller and work your way up to be prepared for that. And the national audience is also asking for something a bit different than the local audience. It’s like a job. You have to kind of work your way up, and it’s the same with podcasts. You’re going to start off on smaller podcasts and work your way up to the big one.
Alex Lyman: 29:43
Because you have to kind of have that standard of proof, that not only am I an expert, and I’m an expert by my credentials, or my information that I know, or value that I provide, but also that I can deliver and share that expertise in a way that is workable and feasible and valuable.
Stacy Jones: 30:01
100% agree with that. Okay, what else you got for us? What else should people be aware of?
Alex Lyman: 30:06
I really can’t stress the preparation enough. Especially when it comes to reporters. Whether you’re on a live segment, or you’re just getting interviewed for a pre-taped package, you’re not always going to know what you’re going into. You might talk to the reporter beforehand, and it’s perfectly okay to ask, “So, what direction do you intend this story to go? What questions might you have for me?” And they don’t necessarily have to answer.
Alex Lyman: 30:35 Or they may not have an answer. I know many of times, I’ve gone out, and I said, “You know, I have to sort of cover this topic and come back with some sort of story, and I don’t really know what’s going to happen until I talk to you.” And that’s perfectly okay, too. But that’s why it’s so important to really be able to talk off the cuff.
Alex Lyman: 30:53
Because people have a hard time with that. It’s a lot harder than it sounds, and if you’re a quiet person, or if you’re more of an introvert, sometimes you think, “Oh, I can talk about my business. How hard can it be?” But in reality, it’s making intelligible sentences. It’s tough. So that’s really my big stressor.
Alex Lyman: 31:13
I would say, too, just making yourself pretty available, because when you send out that press release, they might not call you that day or even the next day, but something might come up a few weeks down the road where they circle back around, and say, “Hey, we got this press release, and we want to do this story.” But if you keep putting them off, we’re on very tight deadlines, and understanding that we’re on very tight deadlines.
Alex Lyman: 31:34
If you go, “I can’t do it today, sorry,” they’re going to find somebody else to do that story. That’s the story of the day, and you’re effectively cutting yourself out of it, so when you send that press release, doing everything you can to make yourself available is super important.
Stacy Jones: 31:49 And that can even be the same hour. We’ve come across situations where reporters are on it, they’re on a deadline, they have a clock ticking, they need to go, go, go, and if they can’t get ahold of you right that minute, if you don’t drop everything to respond and handle and deal and speak with them, you’re going to miss the opportunity.
Alex Lyman: 32:08
Yes. It’s very stressful. Especially if I’m going to call somebody, in my head, I’m counting on this person to come through for me. When they don’t, you panic. And it doesn’t make me want to call you the next time. So that’s huge. Something else, too, that I kind of missed when I talked about talking points, especially for TV.
Alex Lyman: 32:28
If it’s a pre-taped package, you really want to hone your message into very concise soundbites. Because if you sort of ramble on sort of podcast style, they’re going to cut little bits of it out, and they might miss some of the whole picture, and not necessarily intentionally, but you have, I think a news package, it’s about two minutes or less. And so you really got to get your points across very quickly, and you might love to have a long winded conversation, but this isn’t the place.
Alex Lyman: 32:55
Make it easy for them. Here’s where my statement starts, here’s where it ends, there’s my quote, we’re good to go. So keeping things short and concise and not long winded. I know a lot of small businesses love to tell the story of how they got started, and those are great things. Some of those are really inspiring stories. But if that’s not what the story is about, leave it out. Get to the juicy information right away. That’s what you want to get to. So just being [inaudible 00:33:24] of that.
Alex Lyman: 33:24
In news, we call it bearing the lead, if you put the most important information at the bottom. It’s a poor practice that’s not something you want to do, so you sort of have to follow it as a business owner, as well.
Stacy Jones: 33:35
Yeah, that makes so much sense. I’ve seen that happen so often myself, so that’s spot on.
Alex Lyman: 33:43
And think of how, too, if you’re telling a story to a friend, how many irrelevant details are you telling them? That’s a great way to practice it, is, “How could I have told the story more effectively, more quickly, and more to the point?” Some people like to be like, “I did this, and I did this, and here’s the important part, and here’s some other things, and here’s the other important part.” I shouldn’t have to say, “What’s your point? What are you getting at?” So it’s very important to be very direct.
Stacy Jones: 34:09
That is good. Anything else that you think our listeners should keep in mind when they are about to make themselves the star of their local media, or national?
Alex Lyman: 34:20
National media. Well, I think, too, once you start making these appearances, it’s really important, and we see it very much in this digital age, to kind of watch what you’re saying. Watch how you are in public. People really latch onto, “This person said this controversial thing on Twitter,” and people are losing businesses and losing job opportunities based on things that they have said that aren’t really good to say, or correct to say.
Alex Lyman: 34:49
So just keep an eye on that. And it can be very hard, because a lot of people say, “Oh, I said something on Twitter, I didn’t think it was a big deal,” and then it blows up. But I think, at this point, we’re all pretty aware of what gets to be controversial, what’s insensitive, what people are offended by. So being really careful, unless your intention is to create controversy, and you’re very aware of what it can do, try to avoid it as much as you can.
Alex Lyman: 35:11
Because once you’re in that media sphere, you become a public figure. We have people, kind of like you said, they’re part of a company, and they sort of become a spokesperson, and they become very larger public figures. We know who certain people are in the company they work for. So there’s larger implications when you say things that are controversial, if you create any kind of scandal, it all comes back to you, and you’re going to lose media jobs, your regular job might not be happy with you. It’s very easy to create controversy.
Stacy Jones: 35:43
You could impact sales for your business, which is incredibly bad.
Alex Lyman: 35:48
And I’m not saying, “Don’t stand up for what you believe in.” I’m certainly not saying that, and if you have a particular stance, not that you can’t make it, but you kind of have to make it in a fair and balanced way. No name calling, no rude statements. Keep it low level, if you can. You’re representing a lot of people, and the news tries to stay away from the controversial people, especially for these segments. Because they’re trying to focus on the story, not the person that they’re interviewing. So keep it low profile.
Stacy Jones: 36:22
And then, one other question. So, okay, someone, they have their press kit, or they have a media pitch. They’re ready to go. They’re knocking on doors. Where do you suggest they figure out who to knock on doors from? Where do you find out? How do you connect? What’s the best way to source and talk to these people?
Stacy Jones: 36:42
Agencies like mine, we subscribe to Cision, or all of these different outlets that are out there. But how can the typical person, who’s not going to want to spend $10,000 plus to-
Alex Lyman: 36:54
Well, there’s a couple of different things. First of all, well, if you’re in local news, you can very easily go to their website. Usually, there’s some sort of site that’s like, “Meet the team,” “About us,” and they’ll have the names and the pictures and bios of all their different anchors and reporters. And then you can go and look them up. Social media, if they have a website, go through their story history, Google them, and you kind of get to figure out who they are. There’s usually contact information.
Alex Lyman: 37:24
So that part’s a little bit of a slow process, and it takes some research. But it’s important to know who’s in the media. You might be working with a different reporter every single time from the same station, so it’s important to know who they are. So that’s a little bit of a slow research situation that is very well worth the effort.
Alex Lyman: 37:41
I also really like a site called Help A Reporter Out. It is a fabulous site that you can subscribe to for free, and it basically sends you, and this is more regional and national media, especially a lot of newspapers and magazines, and you get all these pitches of, “I’m looking for a tech expert,” or, “I’m looking for this very …” And some of them are incredibly specific, which is sort of funny.
Alex Lyman: 38:06
But you can get the subscription, and I think they send it three or four times a day, and you can go down to the category that [inaudible 00:38:12] you, and if there’s something that sparks your interest, you can pitch yourself to that reporter, and if they like it, they’ll either interview you, or maybe pull a quote, or pull some sort of information from you that way.
Alex Lyman: 38:25
That one’s really fun. It’s kind of labor intensive as well, just because you have to pitch yourself every single time, and every single story’s different, so you can’t always reuse what you’ve already done, that sort of thing. And in that case, too, I would really recommend setting up a Google alert, because they don’t always get back to you and say, “Okay, I’m going to use you.”
Alex Lyman: 38:44
So that’s really important. Again, deadlines. They might just take your information and run and never tell you that they’ve used it. So setting up the Google alert is really clutch, there. But it’s a lot of just general research, watching the news every night, and watching certain reporters do their thing every night.
Alex Lyman: 39:02
There’s one reporter here who, in the last couple months, he’s pretty young, and just started out as a regular reporter, but we had some weird instances where we had some young men that were disappearing, and he really became the go-to reporter for these instances. They’re very sad and tragic, but there was also a lot of false information being spread, and this reporter, you could always go to his pages, and he was in contact with the family constantly, and always having updated information.
Alex Lyman: 39:28
And you felt like you could trust him, and he was always addressing rumors on Facebook that, “I saw this going around. This is not true. This is the case.” And he’s really established himself as an investigative reporter. But you might not know that, except that you stalked his Facebook page and kind of saw all these things happening.
Alex Lyman: 39:47
So take the time to get to know them. They’re people. It’s pretty much as simple as that, treating people like humans, and just showing that you’re legitimate, and you have value. We can smell you a mile away if you know you’re up to no good, if you just want your 15 minutes of fame. Because it’s our credibility, too, if we’re interviewing people who aren’t legit. It makes us look bad, like we didn’t do our due diligence, so.
Stacy Jones: 40:14
There you go. Alex, thank you so much for being on. How can people find you? Let’s give them a reminder on where to find you, although it will be in the show notes, too.
Alex Lyman: 40:23
Yes. You can find me on my website. It’s alex-lyman, L-Y-M-A-N, dot com. I’m in the process of revamping my website, but the old one is there for now, and it’s going to be new and improved hopefully soon, so that’s very exciting. You can follow me on … I’m on Facebook, and my Twitter and Instagram handle is TheAlexLyman. Be very careful, there is an Alex Lyman who is in a metal band. He got stabbed for wearing skinny jeans. It’s a very bizarre scenario. That one’s not me.
Stacy Jones: 40:52
Alex Lyman: 40:53
I have to do that, because people will Google me and be like, “What is going on?” It’s very strange, so that’s not me.
Stacy Jones: 41:02
Sounds good. Well, Alex, thank you so much, and all of our listeners, thank you so much for tuning in to Marketing Mistakes And How To Avoid Them. We will see you on our next podcast.
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