How Authors Can Get Media Attention: Advice from Booker Ashley Bernardi

imagesWe coupled up with superstar booker Ashley Bernardi, principal of Nardi Media, to talk about her work with authors and some lessons she’s gleaned from what really sells books to how authors can approach media themselves. (Though, we’ll be honest, it’s a heck of a lot easier with Ashley in your corner.) Here’s what she had to say.

1) What are the challenges authors face in getting booked on radio/television?

One of the main challenges that authors face is making the pitch relevant to the news cycle. We can overcome this challenge by using recent data, statistics, and research on the subject that was written about about to make the pitch buzzier and more relevant to the news cycle. Producers and reporters are fact-driven, so if we can present them with facts that tie in news of the day/week/month, and use the author and book as a jumping off point for a conversation about it — we usually see traction. I always try to use numbers, data, demographics, and more, to tie in a pitch. Sometimes the pitch is not just about the book itself – but where the author grew up, where he/she is based, and more. There is so much we can work with and that’s the best part about the process!

2) What can authors do to make themselves more attractive media candidates, and get a producer’s interest or attention? What are the most important “ingredients” to include in one’s pitch?

The approach to pitching radio and television varies, as well as the particular show you are pitching. Know who you are pitching and what the show has covered recently. Remember that a producer/reporter will do research on you, so it’s your job to do research on their show. What has been covered recently? Any pieces or segments that you liked or stood out to you? Is there a connection to your book or subject matter?

Another important factor is the pitch itself. You can and should specify and tailor a press advisory based off what a show covers. I usually never work with one generic press advisory. If you give a broad blanket advisory to every single national radio and television show, you won’t see results. But if you can tailor press advisories to specifically what a show covers (health, finance, etc), you’ll see results.

The most important ingredients to a broadcast pitch: Pre-existing video of the author(s) in an interview setting, street credibility (ie prior media placements in print, online, TV, radio), a pitch tailored specifically to what the show covers or has been covering, and making it newsworthy using recent statistics and data.

3) What kind of interviews are most effective? Does it always need to be a national media hit to cause an impact?
Obviously a national television or radio hit creates a big buzz and a wide range of exposure, but don’t discount the local radio stations, especially NPR affiliates. People who listen to NPR read books. I’ve had book authors do local interviews with NPR affiliates around the country, and they’ll see their book sales and Amazon ratings increase just from one radio interview alone.
There is also a huge added bonus to television and radio in today’s media world: online exposure. Nearly every television and radio segment now gets published online – which is a whole new audience reached!

4) Describe an author(s) success story.

We recently worked with two co-authors on a non-fiction sports book. The story had a very local tie to it, so my advice was to start small and start local. This builds up credibility and exposure before we pitch to national media — and it worked. This formula almost always works. We booked two local NPR stations were the story was based, as well as several local television outlets, and from there, the book’s broadcast publicity picked up steam. We were then able to secure some major broadcast bookings and placements, including NPR’s All Things Considered and CBS This Morning. The book also had a religious component to it, and we were able to place the authors on Christian radio stations, as well as a big interview on The Eternal World Television Network, the largest Catholic television channel in the world. It was a huge publicity success story with the right media strategy and approach.

5) Booking your clients on podcasts is a large and important part of your business. Can you explain to those who aren’t familiar what a podcast interview entails, and the unsung benefits they can have for authors?

Podcasts are very new and continue to grow quickly and provide a great way for authors to continue to build exposure and credibility. However, it’s important to do research each podcast we pitch and monitor the number of subscribers. Some podcasts have an enormous following (in the millions), and it would be worthy of an author’s time to get placed on the show. I rely on Stitcher.com to monitor the top-ranked podcasts, which they conveniently separate by topics. Podcast interviews usually last much longer than television and radio interviews, which is great. Additionally, they get placed online – so there is the added exposure component as well. I know my book authors have seen their sales increase just by doing a few podcasts — so I always urge to have us pitch them!

Ashley Bernardi is the creator of Nardi Media, LLC. She has helped countless clients achieve their broadcast outreach goals, including securing interviews and placements on NBC’s TODAY Show, CBS This Morning, MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg TV, NPR, and many more. In addition to booking media, Ashley manages satellite media tours, media strategy and training, producing and logistics. She is based in Washington, D.C.

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Bianca Turetsky

Turetsky's debut breezily incorporates past and current pop culture references; with a spunky main character and breathless descriptions of glamorous clothing, it's entertaining wish fulfillment ... — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review