You know I’m sick when I have other people write articles for me.
In all seriousness, I was lucky enough to “meet” Andrew Ng via email. For a young man, he is incredibly accomplished. He gives amazing advice. He is an expert in the field of marketing and PR. Hence the following essay, “I Wanna Be On Oprah!”
My original media query (via Blogger Link-Up. Thank you, Cathy Stucker) was tongue-in-cheek. I mean, personally, Oprah terrifies me. I wouldn’t want to meet her in a dark alley. (She’d end up shoving chick lit down my throat, and I’d wake up in the morning a fan of Dr. Phil. I digress…) Regardless of my personal phobia of the woman, no one can deny her sway on public opinion, especially where books are concerned. Since I work for a publishing house, it only makes sense that Oprah Winfrey would be on our list of media coverage we NEED.
So for me, Andrew wrote the following article. I love it. I think you will, too. Happy Labor Day!
I Wanna Be On Oprah!
By Andrew Ng
Out of every request for marketing information, this title has got to be the single most eye-catching I have seen. It is also the one that has made me smile the most (and I like smiling)! So naturally I jumped at the opportunity to write an article around this topic.
To start with, let me clarify one minor point – I personally don’t want to be on Oprah. In fact, being that I live and work in the UK, I’ve never actually seen a full episode of Oprah. This question actually came from Sara Dobie, a children’s book publishing PR Coordinator in America.
Ok, this is a huge question, so let’s start by looking at some marketing and PR basics. I’ll also tell you a bit about who I am and what I do so you’ll have some idea about my expertise in answering this question. I am a serial entrepreneur with companies operating primarily in the media sectors. I also hold a role as an executive consultant at a communications and public relations agency that also runs corporate workshops aimed at igniting creativity and innovation called re:Markable.
With every client that we work with at re:Markable, I ask two very basic questions. These questions are used by us generally to create marketing and brand strategy, but they can and should be applied to all areas of communication – including with television executives! These two questions should define everything behind your approach to marketing, advertising, and PR.
1) What do you do?
2) Why the hell do I care?
Are those questions a bit blunt? Probably. Why? I want a blunt answer (without any frills).
Here is a bit more “no frills” stuff for you…
Too much marketing is unfocused.
Too much marketing is sending mixed messages.
Too much marketing is not designed with a specific target audience in mind.
The two questions that I’ve outlined must be answered before any attempt to gain media coverage. There is no point approaching the media if you can’t tell them what you do, and why they should be interested. Once you can answer those two questions, you can clarify your marketing and PR approaches. This will result in improved communications and media coverage.
So you wanna be on Oprah? Get a notepad and write down in a single, simple sentence what you do; then write down a maximum of two sentences about why Oprah should want you. If you can’t do that, you really need to examine your business and work out what you do and why you do it. Because chances are, unless you can work that out, your company is gonna go bust pretty soon.
Now let me tell you a big secret. The mass media wants your stories. More than that, the mass media needs your stories. Without your stories there will never be enough content to fill newspapers, websites, magazines, or even television schedules. So why aren’t you filling every second page of the paper and why do large companies spend so much on PR professionals?
How many businesses are operating in the world? I don’t think an exact figure exists, but it will be many more than there are column inches. Basically, a lot of people want to give the mass media their stories. You might be incredibly persistent, you might have something great to say, and you might deserve recognition for incredible achievements on a personal, national, or international level, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get any press coverage. There is usually one answer why – the approach is wrong.
The tricky thing about gaining big PR coverage is that humans control newspapers and television. (The Internet isn’t really controlled by anyone so we’ll come back to that one.) Humans are not robots and hence, make judgement calls. When it comes to PR, it really would be much easier if everything was controlled by a smiling, happy robot who, if fed the correct ingredients, always printed what you want it to. As it is, there is no single formula for gaining high exposure in the media.
Think back to those two questions that I posed for a minute. Think about what you do, and why I should care. Who will be interested in what you have to offer?
There is no point approaching a fashion magazine when you are trying to get exposure for educational children’s books, such as the books Sara represents. A better approach would be to speak to some television programmes relating to books or education, or to the editors of book columns in quality newspapers. There is one other option if you’re looking for more creative PR – find an interesting twist to your products / services. If in a children’s book there is a recipe for chocolate cake that the child reading the book can try out themselves, maybe you could consider approaching a food magazine for coverage? Creative thinking is a key ingredient in the PR mix and can usually be used to get your story where you want it to be.
Back to Oprah for a moment—
Or…..NOPE! Sara is cutting you OFF! That was segment ONE of Andrew’s column. Segment TWO will pop up Tuesday morning, but I think he’s given you enough to think about for the holiday weekend.
So I charge you with a mission. An assignment, thanks to Andrew: “Get a notepad and write down in a single, simple sentence what you do; then write down a maximum of two sentences about why Oprah should want you.” I want you to think on this. It’s important, whether you’re a writer, artist, musician…anything! If you want to make it big, you have to be able to answer this. So think of your answers this weekend. And I’d love to have you post here on the blog. If you come up with something good, share it with me. And maybe someday, I’ll be watching you sip lukewarm coffee on a swanky couch on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
(BY THE WAY! About Andrew Ng: Andrew Ng is a serial entrepreneur and leading media and innovation consultant in the UK. His businesses include media innovation company, Fat Mouse Productions Ltd; communications and public relations agency, re:Markable; and web development and online marketing business, Expanding Web. In September 2009 he is launching i-Showreel, an innovative video product designed for Internet and mobile marketing. Alongside his business activities, he is currently authoring two books and works as a freelance artist and illustrator.Visit Andrew’s website at: www.andrew-ng.com. Follow Andrew on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/Mr_Ng.)