Radio interviews and talk shows are probably the most coveted means of getting one’s message across if you’re in the business of speaking. From a two-minute news story to a half-hour talk show, broadcast interviews are worth their weight in gold. Since radio and television get their benefits from SELLING time, if you can get that amount of time for FREE, you’re scoring great!

But how do you get that interview?

The first step is to identify the stations and programs to follow. Start with the local stations in the community where you will participate as a speaker. Do an Internet search with the name of the town or city and the keywords “radio stations.” Once you have a list, go to the websites of each of those stations and find out their formats and any satellite programs they may broadcast.

The easiest place to get that coveted interview is with local talk shows or as a local news story. So start there.

Emails and phone calls are a good place to start, but since everyone else is texting and calling the newsroom, you’ll want to stand out. First, find out what local stories are all the rage and when writing your email or calling, check that story in the subject line of your email and when you first call the station. When possible, consult the reporter who wrote or produced the article. You want to let them KNOW that you are aware of the local issues they are currently covering and how your message will apply to them – the more “local angle” you can have, the better.

When you call the station, keep in mind that they are busy. It is best to ask for a specific person, preferably the reporter who covered the local story you will be referring to. Name the local talk show you’d like to appear on … don’t just ask for an interview. The more specific and local you can be, the better. Make your job as easy as possible.

Check out the local issue, tell them how your message fits with that issue, and how you can provide a unique angle on it. This may require a bit of creativity on your part. For example, if the problem at the local level is an increase in drug use at school and you are a BUSINESS coach … how can you connect the dots?

The answer is … address the issue identified in the post as a business issue. How do you advise business professionals on problems they may encounter with their companies? The same technique can be applied if you are a life coach or marriage counselor. It can also be applied to almost any problem: a plant closure, a conflict with the local city government, local historic preservation, etc. The common denominator in all local issues and with their message is PEOPLE.

Now, you’ve taken the first steps to get that interview. You have sent emails and contacted by phone. Whats Next?

Persistence! But remember … there is a fine line between being persistent and being a pest. That line with news reporters is if they feel like you’re telling them how to do their job. Do not do that! Instead, a follow-up would include any updates on that local angle that the station may have covered. If the topic is still hot, your NEW angle on it will be something reporters are looking for. However, if that issue has subsided, the path you’ll want to take is to approach the reporter with a new issue and how you relate to it. This won’t seem like a desperate way to get an interview if it makes it seem like you’re relevant to a lot of local issues … which is why they’ll want to interview you.

The key to getting that interview is to make the job of the reporters / producers or news directors as EASY as possible without telling them HOW to do their job. Identify what they want and then give it to them.

Here are some final tips for getting an interview:

Avoid using a cell phone for a telephone interview. The quality is poor and you risk losing the signal. If possible, do the interview in person. If you can’t due to scheduling or location, then a landline is your next best option.

Be as flexible as possible with time and scheduling. Your first option would be to schedule it to match your speaking engagement, but it may not be possible. Sometimes, especially during peak hours, talk shows are just booked. If there is a time available AFTER your concert, take it. It will serve as a reminder of the message you delivered in your speech and can open up new opportunities for future speaking engagements.

Remember that the station, the reporter, the producer, and the news director are the ones in control of your HAVING the interview and how it will take place. YOU are only in control of what you say during the interview. Take the opportunity to your greatest advantage.

And finally, live talk shows are the only time you have control over what your audience will hear. In a recorded interview, the producer, news director, or reporter may have to EDIT for the sake of time. And, in some cases, you may be misquoted due to the way they edit and write the story. You can’t control this, but you CAN be prepared for it! Just know that it can happen and don’t overreact. You do NOT want to have enemies with the media. Instead, as a follow-up, whether the interview went right or wrong, send a thank you or follow up with a thank you phone call. Those stations only gave you free airtime, so whatever happens, thank them for it!