Why You’re Not Ready for Press

If The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal or Oprah came knocking at your door today, would you be ready for them?

I mean really ready – ready to talk about yourself and your business in an impactful, interesting way. Ready to speak in quick, ten second sound bites without any “ums” or “likes.” Ready to hand over your press materials – a professional bio, headshots and lifestyle images, a FAQ sheet, talking points, and an attractive website that’s user-friendly and totally up-to-date. Ready to talk about why your work is different and why your brand is important – on air?

My guess is you would probably say to me, “Hell no, Liz, I need more time!”

So many people say they want more visibility and access to the media, but the reality is, they aren’t prepared for the exposure and everything that comes with it.

And there’s nothing worse than being caught off guard – that last minute surprise call from a freelance reporter doing a story for Fast Company who wants to talk to you right now. Or agreeing to a local television interview and freezing on-air because you didn’t prepare for the questions you might be asked. And now, that embarrassing clip lives on YouTube forever. Yikes.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself – first – before you approach the media for potential coverage:

  • What’s my story? And/or what’s the story behind my business and what makes it interesting and unique?
  • What makes my story newsworthy? What makes it interesting and different? Why should people care about it?
  • Do I have knowledge, skills or advice that’s timely and newsworthy? Something that audiences would love to learn about right now? (For example: “Tips on how to break smartphone addiction.” “Tips to help women negotiate for higher salaries so we can close the wage gap.” “5 summer vacation ideas that cost less than $1000.”)
  • What’s my “command message” – the big, important point I want to express? A message that I want to leave ringing in people’s ears? A message they will never forget. (For example, in Oprah Winfrey’s now legendary speech at the 2018 Golden Globes, her command message was: “Time’s up!” To all the oppressive, vile men who have abused their power, your days are over. Your time is up.)
  • What media outlets make the most sense for me? Is it The New York Times or Vanity Fair? Is it a local newspaper? A women’s style blog? A small business podcast? Something else? Have I researched these media outlets thoroughly?
  • Have I done voice training, media training, acting/improve classes, or some other type of preparation that will help me feel more comfortable in the spotlight? Do I know how to speak in clear, succinct sound bites? Do I get dry-throat, shaky knees, or flustered when I’m speaking in public, or can I handle it?
  • Do I have professional resources in place – multiple versions of my bio, headshot and lifestyle images, a compelling website, everything that a journalist or a producer might need?

If you answered, “Yes!” to all of these questions, congratulations! Pack your favorite lipstick because you are ready for your close-up.

If not, then it’s time to prepare. The best place to start is by answering the questions listed above, and getting your house in order. When Oprah knocks on your door, you’ll be so glad you did.

Want more tips on how to get press-ready? Head over here.



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