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Getting on Oprah
To most people that come to me, this is aiming so high, it really does borderline on a wishful fantasy.
Seth Godin, author of the book The Small is the New Big, devotes a whole chapter to this issue and asks the question this way:
How much are you willing to pay to be on Oprah?
People don't pitch Oprah successfully. Oprah picks the people she wants. She reads People Magazine. She listens to her friends. What she doesn't do is read news releases and respond to author, publishing company, and publicist pitches. She very simply doesn't need to operate this way any more. Her success has brought her to a level of capability where she has now insulated herself and her organization from all external attempts to reach her. She returns packages sent to her that she hasn't asked for.
My advice is to forget Oprah. You will do better and improve your chances by really focusing on your target audience. Identify who you really can talk to and who you can really please. Build a fire where the tinder is dry and ready to burn. Build up your track record and success by focusing on pleasing your audience. Focus on getting reviews and making people happy with what you do. Oprah and other prime media like her will only pay attention to you if you are doing your life's work and achieving the higher goals that you are dedicated to. This is what they focus on.
So don't wish for the big one, or you'll be waiting a long time. In fact, my advice is to forget about Oprah. Concentrate on media and people you can really reach and really help.
And even if someday, you do get on her show, then maybe you'll find something else out about life. That is, that even being on Oprah doesn't automatically make you into an overnight best seller. It can, but it's not really likely unless the spark exists while you are on the air.
Getting publicity often translates into dramatic book sales, and yet sometimes it does not. There are quite a few authors who have been on Oprah and have not achieved the stellar book sales success they hoped for. In years past, we've heard about them.
The question is "why didn't it work?" I have analyzed many a news release and publicity success story and can share a few lessons learned in what type of news coverage will most likely translate into book sales of note. The bottom line is this:
You need to create a spark. You need to light a fire that burns brightly all by itself. You need to get the media opportunity to provide information about yourself that results in oral, written or visual spontaneous combustion. You need to learn how to hit people hot buttons.
When there's no spark, there's not sales. The quality of the media coverage is a very important factor, far more important in my opinion that the quantity of the media circulation.
if you don't hit hot buttons, then this will be reflected in the behavior and treatment of the host, and this will often determine the impression that is made on the audience. This expression of value and the attitudes that accompany it will make or break viewer interest in the guest and the book, product or service. No spark, no sales.
You have to work carefully with what you have. You have to do your best to shape the direction the host or media takes with the news angle and the content that you provide.
You do this by carefully strategizing in advance what you know about why people respond to your product favorably. Authors need to learn this and capture it in their presentations and marketing wherever they go.
Decide that if you are doing publicity you are going to consciously design the highest possible potential for spontaneous combustion into your media presentation. Don't be dry and humdrum. Don't sell features. Don't create advertisements. The media will not give you free advertising. They want to give their audience education, entertainment, thrills, chills, and excitement. They will run with the provocative so you must be creative.
You must comprehensively identify and vividly portray and communicate these details but do so carefully and judiciously so as to not overwhelm the media, and jeopardize the risk of turning off the media host. In many cases, less information is better than more information.
What has to happen is that you have to strike a chord internally with the media to get them excited about you. The spark will ignite the interest that enflames the media and results in a total and enthusiastic communication of interest, respect, and admiration for what you have to offer.
If you set the spark off, the media will take it from there for you. Lightning can happen.
If you don't set the spark off, the media will reflect their relative lack of interest and excitement. And even if you get on Oprah, sales won't happen. Even if you try really hard, there are times when the chemistry just won't occur and the reaction won't happen. It happens to the best of people.
But then there's those times when the chemistry is right, and it all falls together. You have to be truly prepared to take these experiences, record them and place them under a microscope so that you grasp the significance of the nuances of the event. Your goal is to see if you can identify the pattern and the steps, so that you can repeat them with other people and other media.
I've seen book sales skyrocket when things go right, but sometimes they are never what they seem.
I've seen authors have 10 to 30 minute detailed intimate interviews on radio talk stations with populations of 3,000 to 5,000 people within a 100 mile radius sell hundreds of books off one interview. These talk shows are on 1,000 watt stations out in the middle of nowhere in Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska or Montana. But the audience is captive and everyone listens becuause there's nothing else to listen to for hundreds of miles. The media is the only connection to the outside world.
Again, what happens is they get to hypnotize the audience and capture their hearts and minds. They set off the mental images colorfully and with great style or emotion.
I've seen these same authors do next to nothing in book sales from one to five minute interviews on the major networks, in major metropolitan areas, where the stations have high arbitron ratings with over 50,000 watts of power. Why? The quality of the interview experience. The media format are often programmed in a way that doesn't fit the identity and character of the guest.
The opportunity for to create the spark never occurs so little happens.
On the other hand I've seen one minute taped interviews replayed five times a day for three days in a row on just one small station in middle America sell thousands of books. The taped interview tells a short galvanizing story that captures attention and astounds, shocks, and motivates people to think deeply and literally stop whatever they were doing and pay attention. They are so struck by the event and the repetition by the media that they remember and are motivated to act. This has often happened when tied to a major national current event or a single hot topic that just set off a chord in a single media.
It's the quality of the media experience that creates the motivation.
I've seen problem solving tips articles do wonders for adult non-fiction books, especially with custom targeted media lists which place the solution in front of people with a known identifiable problem. I've seen these articles travel from person to person, because people who get cured of a problem share their success with others.
I've seen true heart-warming stories of success in the face of failure result in more book sales than any other news release format I can name.
I really believe that this same phenomenon is what creates word of mouth energy that can sell 100,000 books.
If you use publicity to set off sparks, your job of selling books gets much easier. Look at a goal of 100,000 books. That can be viewed as 2,000 books in each of 50 states. This can be translated into 20 books per article for each of 100 daily and weekly newspapers, or talk show interviews. So can you interview or be featured in a short article and sell 20 books from a single media event? Maybe. It doesn't seem to be that hard of a goal to aim at.
What this means is that if you are going to seek publicity, you have to put your best foot forward and truly find and achieve the expression of information that contains energy and emotion that drives people to take action. You need to learn, know and utilize the motivational forces that drive people to buy your creative writings.
How do you identify what this is?
What your prospect when you speak. Watch their body language as you talk to them. Pay attention to what you say that gets their attention and get them to buy what you are selling. Analyze why people buy your product. Identify and carefully define the specific motivations, the key information, the emotions they feel, the reasons that resulted in a sale.
If you don't know the reasons why people buy your books, products or services, you have to find out by asking your customers. This is difficult for those authors who write without asking themselves or anyone else "why will you buy my writing?"
Nonetheless, if you write to sell, these truly critical facts become the skeleton and the body of information needed to develop and frame your positioning and marketing with your buying population and the media.
The data I've accumulated over the years demonstrates that the media respond to and thrive on the same motivational factors that your buyers require. You can use these factors as your key news angles and flesh out the meat of your news releases with the personal stories and real life events and experiences your clients have.
In my seminars and prior posts, I've explained that there is a formula for media success that I've boiled down to the following: DPAA + H. These are the bottom line motivational factors I've been able to identify. It's a common thread to book sales success and media attention. This is what it means:
D = Dramatic
P = Personal
A = Achievement
A = Adversity
H = Humor.
The elements of this formula may factor into any situation to a varying degree, but if you look at today's paper, or watch tonight's news, you'll begin to see these elements in nearly every media event or feature everywhere you look. Almost every feature story the media runs contains these elements to some degree. You will even see some of the finest advertising seek to achieve this. Pay attention to it when you find yourself captured by a media event or production. Analyze your own emotions and response when you are motivated to buy something in response to a media communication.
So what's the lesson learned? Find out what creates the spark. I can cite example after example where book sales follow this same formula. Why did someone buy your book? Analyze it and portray it using the DPAA+H formula. Pay attention to what motivates you. Pay really close attention to what motivates your clients.
Then you get to use technology as a force multiplier and you can repeat your message to lots of other people.
Media success will translate into book sales if you get to achieve DPAA + H. If you give the media this, you can succeed, because first this is what they want and you've made it easy for them to run with it. Tell them a story where your book leads people through a story of dramatic personal achievement in the face of adversity, plus a little humor.
So go back and analyze your book sales. I mean individual sales. Identify the psychological pathway people traverse when they go from the initial contact, through the prospect stage, to being convinced and buying your book. Carefully define these steps and stages. Keep track of the reasons why people like what you have done. Ask them to share their emotions with you.
These emotional data points are the writing pegs you need to design marketing materials, book covers, news releases, interview talking points, and media kit information which will create the setting where the spark can occur.
Start with the simple list of key emotions and motivations. Then add flesh to them with the real life personal stories of your clients, and their feelings and emotional experiences if you can.
Pack your marketing and publicity materials with the motivational and emotional chemicals you need to set off spontaneous combustion.
Then you'll sell books. Then you'll get more publicity.
And if you help enough people, then maybe you'll even get a call from Oprah.
Paul J. Krupin Custom Targeted PR
Have a nice day!
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