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Wax Marketing Blog

10 steps to pitching radio

Radio is still a great way to get your message heard. This month I booked more than 50 interviews for Karin Winegar, the author of SAVED Rescued Animals and the Lives They Transform – driving the book into the Amazon topseller list in its niche.  Commercial radio stations are facing a terrible downturn in advertising – that means they have a lot more space to fill. And THAT means more opportunity for authors to get in front of listeners.

It’s can be hard to pitch radio –  which is why there are entire PR agencies focused solely on this medium. But anyone can get on air once they know how to do it.

  1. Pitch the producers and program managers, NOT the hosts, unless it’s a smaller market. If you’re not sure just call the station and ask who books the interviews for that particular show.
  2. Use a pitch that is filled with CONTENT not an ad for your service. Show that your listeners will learn something from having you on – and you’ll get your plug in for your book or product don’t worry. The best guests don’t sell they INFORM.
  3. Get to the point right away in your pitch. Write it in 200 words or less if you can. Use BOLD to highlight the important stuff. If you can, offer a couple books or product samples as giveaways.
  4. Don’t call them –  they don’t have time. Everyone in broadcast is short-staffed but radio is the worst right now. No one has time to listen to a pitch even if it’s just five minutes.
  5. Make sure your email subject line has no SPAM words. These folks get 100’s of emails a day and many go into junk. Don’t be afraid to re-send if you think it might not have gone through either. Lots of times they just don’t see your email.
  6. Pitch about a week ahead of time for commercial drivetime segments. Pitch 2-3 weeks for talk shows and interview-based programs. Some drivetime books the day before – we often get most of our interviews a couple days before the campaign starts.
  7. Be available and respond IMMEDIATELY to a request. Radio folks are notoriously last minute. If you wait a day or even a couple hours you are likely to lose the spot. Answer the phone or email the MINUTE you receive it and book it right away. No “I will check my schedule and get back to you” This person is offering you GOLD so grab it and run.
  8. Send a confirmation email right away with numbers, backup numbers and all the details. Once you’re confirmed, send a product sample or book, sample questions and backgrounders right away.
  9. Don’t you dare be late. 30 seconds in radio is a lifetime. You’ll miss the spot and risk getting blackballed by that station and possibly others. Remember THEY ALL TALK TO EACH OTHER, especially if it’s ClearChannel.
  10. Follow up with a thank you to your contact, and stay in touch to let that person know what’s happening with the book. Interviewers and producers tend to “adopt” new authors they like and can be extremely helpful.  Cultivate your media connections like a new set of friends.

Another note – don’t get snotty about which station you’ll be on. Many smaller stations communicate with bigger ones. If they hear you’re a great guest they’ll suggest you. If they hear you were bad or wouldn’t do it, they’ll communicate that too. Dan Buettner, author of NYT bestseller The Blue Zones is always incredibly gracious whether he’s on CNN or doing a talk show in Vidalia, GA. That’s part of the reason why his book is doing so well. He booked with a smaller talk show host recently, who subsequently signed a 60-city syndicated deal. Point is, YOU NEVER KNOW who these hosts know or where they’ll be in a year or two. DO EVERY INTERVIEW.

And don’t turn up your nose at Internet radio either. Dan also did Inez Bracy’s online radio program on BlogTalk Radio. Guess what – the program became featured that day on the network and Dan got tons of hits for the book and his website.

To book radio you need to think like a producer, not like somebody with something to sell. Provide real content, respond immediately and be a prompt, entertaining guest (more on that later)  Radio can be the springboard to bigger things – more importantly it has an incredible reach all on its own.

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12 Comments

  1. Tips for Pitching Radio and How to Be a Good Radio Guest Says :
    Posted on August 10, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    […] anyone serious about getting seen, heard, and celebrated by the media. With that said, here is a blog post that offers excellent tips to consider when pitching your story to radio stations, and here is […]

  2. New ways to pitch radio | Wax Blog
    Posted on April 29, 2010 at 8:36 am

    […] spots are DOWN, making it a bit harder to gain those coveted drivetime spots. Be sure to check out 10 Tips for Pitching Radio – these basic points still apply, as do my tips for Being a Great Radio Guest. I’ve […]

  3. Mark McKenna Says :
    Posted on October 29, 2011 at 7:13 am

    Interesting article, thanks for writing it. My book is languishing in no-book-land and I’ve been trying to think of what to try next. Radio sounds interesting, but I sometimes get tongue-tied and am not sure about my ability (or my book’s ability) to inform. The Word Gang is about three kids in school who start using big words to be disruptive. It’s also how young lives are transformed through friendship and good vocabulary. Any ideas? Thanks, Mark

    • bonnie Says :
      Posted on October 29, 2011 at 9:14 pm

      Mark – I think a lot of media in the parenting realm would be interested in vocabulary and kids. Find some stats or studies related to the topic. And if you practice you wont get tongue tied.

  4. Michael E. Newton Says :
    Posted on October 29, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    I’d love to know how many book sales did those 50 interviews lead to? On Amazon, the paperback sales rank is currently 614,418 and the Kindle is 213,757. So there appears to be little lasting effect. It doesn’t seem like the number of sales may be worth the time and effort getting these interviews and doing them.

    In my experience, I’ve only had one interview (Internet, not radio) that sold a lot of book. And in that case, the show host had read my book and contacted me to interview me. All those radio or internet interviews I got through my own efforts have not led to higher sales.

    • bonnie Says :
      Posted on October 29, 2011 at 9:17 pm

      Well that was quite a while ago…media campaigns spike and fall for books. But I can tell you that authors who sell books do it through media campaigns. Maybe radio was just not the right medium for your message.

  5. Nigel Williamson
    Posted on December 21, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    I was so happy to stumble upon your guide. I will be using each and every step.

  6. gygel
    Posted on December 29, 2011 at 12:16 am

    Wow it’s a great idea to promote our products through Radio, I must say it is one of the cheapest way to promote products that is effective to. But the problem is Radio jokey or Producers don’t have so much time to make adjustment in our ads so I agree with you to make our ad to the point and written effectively to target right audience.

  7. website
    Posted on June 13, 2012 at 11:39 pm

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  8. Pitching radio 2.0V2 | Wax Marketing Blog Says :
    Posted on July 2, 2012 at 10:58 am

    […] spots are DOWN, making it a bit harder to gain those coveted drivetime spots. Be sure to check out 10 Tips for Pitching Radio – these basic points still apply, as do my tips for Being a Great Radio Guest. I’ve […]

  9. RadioGuestList.com Says :
    Posted on August 9, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Great post!

    There’s nothing like the voice of experience to help guide newbies and those tips should help any of your readers get more radio interviews.

    Another good idea is to sign up for our free email list. Each day we send out “Guest Requests” from radio show and podcast hosts looking for interview guests.

    We’ve helped thousands of authors, experts, and businesses get free interview publicity since 2008 and our service is free, too.
    http://www.RadioGuestList.com

    If you haven’t joined us yet, we hope you will, too!
    Thanks!

  10. How to Get on Talk Radio | Be Media Savvy Says :
    Posted on March 6, 2015 at 10:41 am

    […] to yesterday’s post about radio market research, here are 10 things you should know before pitching your story idea to talk radio courtesy of […]

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