Monday, April 14, 2014

The Etiquette of Author Radio Interviews

Congratulations! You've done your first radio interview (or you've completed your first flurry of radio interviews), and you're hoping to leverage that accomplishment and build long-term, mutually productive relationships with the radio producers and radio hosts who were gracious enough to invite you to be on the air with them. It's time to learn, and practice, the art of follow up radio interview etiquette. Here's what to keep in mind after your author radio interview:

  • What you want. Of course, you want a copy of your radio interview. Take it from a book publicist who has been in a lot of radio studios over the years: you don't want to ask for a copy of the interview. The radio interview may have been a peak and important experience for you. For the radio show, you were just one of hundreds of authors and other experts who have appeared on-air. Know your place in the radio food chain. Radio stations are typically understaffed. The producer who booked the interview with you, and the host who interviewed you, doesn't have time to dub copies of the radio interview. They don't have flunkies who can do it for them. Don't ask, and don't ask your book publicist to ask for you. Be clear about this point: your book publicist isn't "too shy" to speak up and ask for what you want, and she's not giving you the brush-off if she refuses. It's just that your book publicist is wise enough to know that the answer will be (or should be) no, and that asking for a copy of your radio interview would mark the book publicist as a rookie or, worse, as a disrespectful pain in the neck -- and not the type of book publicist the producer or host would want to work with again in the future. If your book publicist burns a bridge with a radio station, this doesn't help you (and it surely doesn't help your book publicist, either). Your instinct is correct, however. It is a good idea to hear what you sounded like on the air so that, going forward, you can build on what you did best and make adjustments to your weak points. Listening to your radio interview will help you to improve your performance next time. Fortunately, most radio stations do archive some of their radio shows on their web site. Google the show a couple of days after your interview airs, and you might be lucky enough to find your segment online. Otherwise, you can ask your book publicist to ask the producer when, and where, a link to your segment might be available. That's a way to get what you want without incurring any of the complications of what you definitely don't want: anything that might hinder your relationships with radio producers and hosts!

  • Give thanks. It was nice of you to give up your time, and expend your energy, to be a guest on a radio show (or radio newscast). You didn't get paid for it, and you have a right to expect gratitude for what you did. But the reality is that you're probably not going to get the thanks you deserve. Just look at it from the radio show's perspective. You got a chance to plug your book, build your brand, and raise the public's awareness of who you are. Radio producers and hosts could have given this opportunity to any of your competitors, but they gave it to you, this time. And you want them to choose to give you an opportunity another time, too. So express your gratitude. Your book publicist will have the email addresses of the radio producer and the radio host (and anyone else who was involved in booking the interview). Ask your book publicist for that contact information, and then use it to write sincere thank-you notes to the media people who were kind enough to invite you to be their on-air guest. A little bit of gratitude goes a long way in building relationships with the media. Also, mention your availability to do additional interviews with the host in the future (if you can make yourself available on short notice, mention that, too -- it's a great selling point for many radio shows). Specify some topics that you can address on the air. You'll get bonus points if you can tie your expertise into upcoming holidays or events that the broadcast or newscast will likely cover. Make your ideas easy to read by formatting them as a bulleted list. The radio producer and host will be best able to digest your pitch if your gratitude begins and ends the email -- and if your email is short and to the point. Then put aside your expectations. Don't be dismayed if you don't get a response to your email. Understand that time is short for radio folks just as it's precious for you, and email silence doesn't mean your email when unnoticed or unappreciated. And don't let the lack of good manners on the part of some busy radio people dissuade you from thanking the next radio producer and radio host who invite you to join them on the air.

  • Follow through. If you promised to stay in touch with the radio producers and radio hosts when you wrote them thank-you emails (better still, if they asked you to stay in touch with them while you were on the air or in response to your follow up email to them), then follow through by sending them occasional emails. You might let them know about future projects, or point out your perspective on a breaking news story, or offer a connection between current events and your expertise. Always close with a reminder that you're available for radio interviews and that you'd like to be considered as a guest if the opportunity arises.

  • With a small investment of effort, you can turn a one-shot radio interview opportunity into an ongoing dialogue with radio producers who are always willing to listen to your ideas. Be respectful, show your thanks, and making a continual effort to build and then maintain your relationships with radio decision makers ... and you can find a single author radio interview turning into a career-long, mutually rewarding relationship.

    Stacey J. Miller is a book promotion specialist and founder of S. J. Miller Communications. Visit her at (connecting with her on Facebook or Twitter is strictly optional).