Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Writing Wisdom: Dian Thomas

I’ve known who Dian Thomas is for about as long as I can remember watching TV. From her early appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson to the eight seasons she did on The Today Show, I always knew she was an author who came from Utah, and she wrote a book called Roughing It Easy. She also did these really funky cooking things like cooking fish on your car manifold or something. I knew she had a fun personality, and that she seemed to be pretty good at getting herself written about in magazines, newspapers, and appearing on TV. Last year, I met Dian and started getting to know her, and I discovered that she had lots of ideas that could help anyone get themselves written about in newspapers, etc.—maybe even me!

Dian has put together a package of seminars and teaching tapes to help the inexperienced break into getting free publicity, and I won’t steal her thunder here, but I want to share few of her points that have been important to me. Maybe her ideas will also give a kick start to you on finding your way to free publicity.

One of the concerns Dian had to overcome when she first started making television appearances was to get over her fear of being on stage and in the spotlight. She learned to ask herself a question—Are you here to be nervous, or are you here to sell books? The answer was obvious, and she disallowed herself to be nervous, instead using the time to tell people about the things that were exciting and interesting in her books. The sales soared as a result.

Her next fear was that there were perhaps others who had more to say—more to teach. Obviously the newspapers had articles each day to fill there spaces, so she worried, “Why would they need me?” Until finally she realized that those other people getting write ups were really no different that she was, someone with a product to sell and the need to let people know about it, so her response to herself became, “Why not me?”

Three tips she gives to those of us who want to gain free publicity:
1. Be really positive
2. Be open to possibilities
3. Connect with people. Let them know where you want to do, and let them help you get there.

If you can solve the problem of the reader, you are on your way to success. And, you never know where the publicity you get will take you. Even press in the local market can help sell your product, introduce you and your talents to new people, and open the door for other opportunities.

Dian suggests you build yourself a press kit. With the rise of computer technology you can do much of this from home for both the print and electronic media. Write you own killer bio, include facts about your product, answer the top ten questions you know readers will have, give the editor several story ideas they can choose from, and include a high resolution photo or jpg of you or your product.

Many times the reason why people don’t get press for their successes is that they simply don’t take action. You can’t afford to sit around and wait for someone to recognize you would make the perfect subject for an article or be a stellar guest for a television show. You’ve got to be willing, and knowledgeable, about how to sell yourself.

Media is like a pyramid. Start at the bottom and work yourself up. Local newspapers are always looking for people they can feature. Even some local news or talk shows are looking for guests that meet the needs of their audience. You don’t have to jump first thing onto a national show like Oprah. Would you really want to anyway without at least some experience at finding yourself in the hot seat?

Learn how to write not only your own press release, but also how to write articles. Choose one that fits what your trying to sell. How to, lists, profiles, information, historical, personal experience, inspirational, travel, investigative, and humor all have their places in newspapers and magazines. Which one works best for you?

Dian’s mantra is, “Advertising is what you pay for, and publicity is what you pray for!” Look for ways you can get publicity to pay for YOU!

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