The Editor as Media Guest

By Cameron, Jim | Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management, January 1, 2004 | Go to article overview

The Editor as Media Guest


Cameron, Jim, Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management


Byline: Jim Cameron

One of the best ways to boost circulation, especially newsstand sales, is by using the media to promote your magazine. Getting airtime for interviews about your latest exclusive or hot cover story is easy - if you can make the transition from journalist to guest. If your magazine is breaking a story or has uncovered important information, you want it broadcast. You can send your article to the appropriate contact, with a Q&A for the interviewer highlighting the sexy elements of your piece. Convince producers that booking you is in their best interest and will result in higher ratings, an exclusive, etc. Remember, you're selling yourself and your magazine.

Over the past 20 years, I've "media trained" hundreds of celebrities, CEOs, authors and sports celebrities for interviews with outlets ranging from The New York Times to 60 Minutes. (Training can take as little as three or four hours for two or three people, and costs about $2,000 to $3,000.)

In my experience the most challenging clients are journalists and editors, for two reasons:

* Most print journalists are shy

They've chosen writing because they don't like being in front of people, let alone cameras. One Vibe editor who I trained was drop-dead gorgeous but always blushed on-air. One time she even fled an MTV interview when she noticed red splotches on her neck. My advice: Wear a turtleneck.

* Reporters don't see themselves as experts

"I'm not the newsmaker," a business writer told me. "Nobody wants to interview me; they should just read my story." Wrong! Nobody will read the story if you don't promote it. And though you're not the newsmaker, you certainly have more expertise than most lay readers.

Both of these excuses are easily overcome with a little coaching. As I practice it, media training is neither charm school nor creative obfuscation. As an ex-reporter and producer (NBC News, Inc. magazine), I tell my clients to think of an interview as a presentation, not an interrogation.To be a good guest, you must have a message supported with facts, statistics and anecdotes.

The crucial lesson is learning how to deliver the message, whatever the questions are. To best control the interview, stay on point. Get your writers to draft the message like a movie trailer, stressing two or three key points. …

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