How do you Promote Something on Radio or TV Without Sounding Like Liz Truss?

The audience of Have I Got News For You the other night (and many more online) had a good laugh at former PM Liz Truss’s cack-handed and gauche attempts to promote her new book on American TV. Invited on to Fox News she said ‘and here’s my new book!’ even before being fully introduced, but held her copy back to front, then upside down before finally showing the cover picture as it was supposed to be. It was cheesy and awkward in the extreme. Yet in a media-savvy world everyone knows that the majority of chat show guests are there to promote something – big name stars when their new films are released and so on. These well-known faces will grab attention whatever they say or do, but what’s the smart way to play it if you get the chance to go on radio or TV to promote a book or product or piece of research, but are not yet in the Tom Cruise category and don’t want to be pushy like Ms Truss?
First, remember that interviewers and programme editors don’t want someone who is too ‘salesy’ – nobody is watching just to hear your sales pitch. As with any interview, you should have a clear agenda, but you have to weave it in deftly, not with hobnail boots. For example you can maybe get the title of your book in once, but don’t overdo it. Then, think about the audience for the programme – is it local or international, or a specialist industry podcast? What would this particular audience actually care about – of all the things you could say, what is most likely to catch their attention and hook them in? What fascinates you as the subject expert may just sound too specialist or nerdy for most people – ask around family and friends as to what they find most attention-grabbing. For example, whether it’s a book about spies or air fryers or Taylor Swift, what does it reveal that may surprise, or fascinate people? Ideally, make it sound like real news – are you uncovering something of significance for the first time? If it’s a physical or digital product, is it the first, biggest or fastest of its type? Don’t leave them to ask – make sure you get these key points of differentiation across. Often however, the real story is you – tell a story about what inspired you or changed your life, how it relates to today’s topic, and that may be the most interesting tale of all.

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