How to get featured in magazines and newspapers with no connections…and turn it into mega-bucks

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How to get featured in magazines and newspapers with no connections…and turn it into mega-bucks

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My first-appearance in The New York Times freaked me out…

In November 2001, I launched a yoga studio in the heart of New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen. It was a strange, moody time in the city, just 6-weeks after the collapse of the twin-towers. But, for yoga studios, or pretty much anyone else in the healing profession, the demand was huge.

This led to an odd scenario…

In January 2002, we were featured on the front-page of the Sunday New York Times Jobs section in a giant article. My picture, in color, was front and center, above the fold. And, because it was the premier of the jobs section, an image of that front page was turned into ads and plastered on buses all over the city.

It was my dream PR placement, save one nagging element.

The article featured new businesses that had, with no effort to exploit the events of 9-11, ended up getting an economic bump, while pretty much every other business in Manhattan was crumbling. And we fit the bill perfectly.

I had trouble, at first, with the notion that we might be profiting on the back of suffering.

But, then I quickly realized, the reason we were succeeding was because we were providing a service, a setting and a solution that was desperately needed. We were succeeding because we were helping with the healing. And, as a show of gratitude and commitment to my community, I even opened the doors of the studio for free to all aid-workers and family members, who’d been staged on the pier just a few blocks away.

That experience taught me a huge lesson about PR…

You can say the exact same thing that a journalist says about you. But, when you say it, you’re just puffing and selling.

When the media says it…it’s gospel!

So, with a new business afoot and not a lot of cash on-hand, I decided I needed to tap the media as my prime form of marketing. Problem was, I had no connections, little money and a small, local business with only local appeal.

And, everyone I knew told me I’d need crazy connections to big journalists, producers or writers to get into national media again. They pretty much chalked up my initial run at the New York Times as dumb-luck.

But, I don’t really believe in luck, dumb or not!

My feature in The New York Times taught me something about getting covered in mainstream, national media. Anyone can do it, you just need to make national-level news!

Reporters, editors and journalists are constantly hungry for great stories to share, but, much to heir chagrin, much of what they’re pitched on a daily basis is either not big enough, not relevant enough or simply not real news. When they stumble upon or ferret out real news, it’s like a blessing. It’s makes their job so much easier.

It’s the same, by the way, with the emerging gatekeepers of social media. The top-diggers, stumblers, blogzoomers and so-on. They are on a relentless quest to deliver killer content to their followings and build their reputations as media-mavens. So, when you serve it up, packaged, well-crafted and ready to go…it’s like a gift!

The question for back in 2002, though, was…

How do you make national news?

From my experience getting into local media, I knew I needed a hook. But, this time, I needed one with national appeal. Something that could not only take my business to the next level, but be genuine news on a national level. And, then it happened.

It was like idea-manna from heaven!

I needed to tie some aspect of my business to news about a pervasive national desire. But, instead of waiting for something to come along, I decided to create it.

I knew, from my days in the fitness business and, heck, just from being alive in the United States, that, at any given time, tens-of-millions of people wanted to lose weight. I knew I could tie yoga to weight loss, it would not only be a slam dunk for my studio, but would be news on a national level.

And, that would not only be great for business, but, on a deeper, more meaningful level, it would introduce yoga to so may people who, but for this hook, would never have tried it.

So, I spent a bunch of time researching, looking for studies. I found books, articles and even videos that claimed yoga helped you lose weight. But, what was glaringly absent was actual research that proved the issue.

I’d found my opening. I needed to run the first-ever study on yoga and weight loss.

So, I approached the head of the human performance lab at Adelphi University. He giggled at first, but then told me to come in to run a pilot study to see if it was even worth running a full-study, expecting that to be the end of it.

I dropped by, got wired up and, 20-minutes later, turned to face the dropped jaws of all who were in attendance. Wow! The only question was how quickly I could get together participants for a full study. Part one accomplished, I’d set the wheels in motion to…

Create an event that was deserving of national-level media attention.

Now, it was time for part two. I didn’t have the money to hire any PR firms or publicists, the people with connections to editors and producers. Nor did I have any connections, myself. I needed to figure out how to…

Get the attention of top media.

I wanted this to run in fitness, not yoga magazines, since their reach was far wider.

So, I read the mastheads of the top 5 fitness magazines, got the names of the right editors and hand-delivered letters to them that

  1. Revealed that we were secretly conducing the first-ever university study to measure how many calories yoga burned and
  2. We wanted to offer an exclusive to the right editor.

Within hours, the then fitness director of Self Magazine called me. She wanted in. But, there was a problem…

The fitness director of the country’s top women’s fitness magazine wanted to actually participate in the study. She wanted to be a subject.

And, she wanted to be able to write about her experience. I knew that the university had strict rules about this, so, over a period of weeks, we negotiated her participation and she agreed only to release basic information and only after the university gave her the okay. (In fact, much to my surprise and the discontent of a number of participants, the detailed reports were never released to us, as I’d expected).

After much organizing (and cajoling yoga students to join in the experiment), the university conducted the study and the results were pretty eye-opening. That alone would’ve made for a great story and nice image-building for the studio.

But, the story doesn’t end there…

A few months before writing about the study, the fitness director called me to let me know she’d be including a small blurb in the fitness page. But, she was concerned about something.

The magazine had a giant national readership and very few of its readers would be able to actually get to the New York studio to try our style of yoga. She lamented about the fact that we didn’t have a video that she could recommend. Which is where it was time to take a giant leap o faith.

She wanted a video, I gave her one…even though none existed!

I told her that her call was quite fortuitous, because we were actually in post-production on a new video that would offer an adapted, more moderate variation of the sequence done on the study. She asked the name and I told her it was called Vinyasa Heat Live! She asked the price and I said it was $19.95. She asked where people could buy it and I told her it would be available at our website.

I hung up the phone, turned to my partner and said, “I don’t know how to tell you this, but we need to film, edit, produce and package a video in 8-weeks.”

It was a wild adventure, but with the help of friends, students and a friendly record label who let us license music for 100% back-end, we were able to get he first run delivered literally the day the magazine hit the street.

At first, orders dribbled in. But, within days, we were overwhelmed.

We sold out the entire first run in the blink of an eye and produced a number of additional runs before riding out demand. That one video launched our multimedia division, which has grown to 5 videos and dvds, with more on the way later this year. And, to this day, people still e-mail and call asking us to convert the original videos to dvd.

Since then, I’ve been able to parlay my understanding of how to get featured in the news into a dozens of appearances in many other magazines, newspapers, radio and television shows, both nationally and internationally. And, I’ve been increasingly tapped to show other small business owners how to do the same or do it for them.

But, I am the first to tell them…

If you want to be in the news, contacts and money might help, but nothing beats a genuine killer story with a great hook that goes beyond self-serving jibberish and actually is real news.

Whether it’ getting your book, blog or business into the print, online, television or radio media, it always comes down to the same thing…

  • Make real news,
  • Let the gatekeepers know (or online, everyone in the community), then,

If possible convert exposure to revenue.

Here are a few common way to make news with your business, books or blogs

  • Create a unique event or discovery with mass appeal
  • Piggyback a national news story with a related story
  • Be provocative – attack or contradict a high-profile figure or story
  • Be astonishingly innovative – innovate on a level that changes lives
  • Joint-venture or associate with something/one already in the news

And, here are a few ways to find out who to send your stories to:

  • For magazines: look in the masthead in the front, pick out the editor with the most relevant area, search for their contact info online and/or call to get it. You may also purchase their contact info from services like Cision (used to be Bacon’s).
  • For newspapers: read the papers to get familiar with the names of the journalists and editors who cover the areas you want to be featured in. Then, follow above guidelines (except there will not be a masthead, so go online or to the services)
  • Radio & TV: Look for the names of the segment producers for segments similar to the one you picture yourself being featured in. They’ll either immediately precede the segment or roll at the end. Then same as above. Also, a good resource, though it’s not cheap, is Steve Harrison’s guide to producers for top TV shows. Harrison also produces the Radio & TV Interview Report, which is widely used to book radio and television guests.

The final step is where publicity converts to marketing and sales. And, that’s where you you need to get super-creative with how you package yourself and create specialized offers for particular audiences.

If there’s an interest, in a future post, I’ll go into the specifics of crafting press materials and pitching influencers in a way that helps get you noticed and featured. Let me know in the comments.

As always, I’d love to hear your thought, stories and questions in the comments below.

And, I’d especially love to hear any of your out-of-the-box stories that have landed you in the mainstream, online or social media….

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37 responses

37 Responses to “How to get featured in magazines and newspapers with no connections…and turn it into mega-bucks”

  1. raptor says:

    I love the site design. Good luck with the site.

    Great post, too! Think I might subscribe.

  2. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ raptor – thanks for the kind words, glad you enjoyed the article!

  3. Patrick says:

    This reminds me of an off-topic post I did a few months ago. Just to give you an idea, this post was stumbled and it translated into more than 11000 visitors so far on my site. And still counting. I’m starting to think that the post is stuck in a loop on the StumbleUpons servers.

    - Getting 300 stumblers is not that hard.
    - Getting 1000 requires a good in-depth article
    - But getting 11000 requires something totally original. something never heard or seen before. And this is what I had on this very day.

    Here’s a link to the post I’m talking about:

    http://piggybankpie.com/off-road/hummingbird-pictures-like-youve-never-seen-before/

    This post was in a way similar to Jonathan’s Yoga experience. If you real journalists or social media submitters something totally original, then you are heading for prime time visibility.

    Very good post Jonathan

    Patrick

  4. Jeff Quipp says:

    Outstanding post Jonathon! I think far too many miss these opportunities … really they’re opportunities to influence the influencers. Great piece!

  5. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Patrick – One of the real benefits of having a fair bit of PR and marketing experience in the offline world is that it allows you to see how closely very similar principles transate to the online world, once you are fluent enough with “social” media to understand the landscape and the basic rules of the game.

    @ Jeff – Thanks for your kind words! It’s so easy to miss so many opportunities, which is why I think it’s so important to step away from what you are doing and look at with fresh eyes. My most innovative moments always come when I’m NOT actively trying to innovate, but rather when I’ve worked really hard and then created the space to see solutions, spins and answers that seemed absent before.

  6. Mike DeWitt says:

    Jonathan,

    What a wonderful lesson for us all to seize the initiative at every possible opportunity. Thanks; great work as always; and looking forward to more!

    Mike

  7. once again, great post.

  8. Excellent article. This is a must read for all those who think you need to possess anything to have anything in the world. You don’t need to.

    Your example bears true testimony to that!

    Cheers,
    Ellesse

  9. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Mike D – It’s amazing how much more opportunity lies right under our noses once we take the time to see it.

    @ Michael – thanks!

    @ Ellesse – if there’s something you need to possess, it’s probably a sense of gratitude, to be thankful for what you have, and presence, to see what really lies in front of you.

  10. Truly a great piece JF!

    We did an article yesterday here’s the link: http://www.seomegacorp.com/blog/2008/10-steps-to-tango-the-social-media-cookbook/ which got Stumbled and has got 3K visitors already in just one day! I feel really amazed about how well social media has become.

    I’m pretty new to Stumble thing but learning the curve, and hope to do better!

  11. Tremendous and inspiring story of resourcefulness and, yes, faith! (Not the religious kind; just “faith,” period.)

    It’s not just that you stepped back to take in the situation with fresh eyes, but that you followed up and took action. Hain’t nothin’ happens just by wishing for it, right?

  12. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Manish – awesome job on getting 3k visitors on Stumble!

    @ Communicatrix – we all have great ideas all day long and all too often it’s not the best idea that irses to the top, but the one that was set in motion by action

  13. Michael D says:

    Jeff Quipp forwarded this to me this morning. What a spectacular piece.

    I received national press last year with a full page newspaper article (and photos) after a post I did about a potential Van Halen tour caught a journalists attention. All I did was tie my niche to a story I expected to have broad appeal.

    Love your idea of offering exclusives.

  14. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Michael D – yeah, piggybacking is probably the single easier way to get into national press. so, it’s a good idea to always look at what’s going on in the news and see if you can hitch a ride!

  15. Jonathan,

    I’m somewhat new to your site, but I learn, or I am reminded of valuable thought patterns and actions, every time I visit.

    It is extremely inspirational for me to see how you parleyed your passion for Yoga into a dynamic business. I have a 20+ years practice and passion in the Chi Gung, Meditation, Fitness, and PD areas. I know how challenging it can be creating that just-right balance in the mindset.

    My difficulty with that, is that I became so complete and satisfied through my practice, that the possible business spin-off faded into the background; something I want to change!

    The thing is, you ended up spreading the practice much more by focusing on business. Everyone wins!

    Pretty cool stuff :-)

    John

  16. Jonathan,

    Thanks for sharing not just the “what” but also the detailed “how” of getting publicity for minimal cost. Any business person reading your account should be able to adapt your experiences to their product or service.

    You have been very generous with the meaty details, so much so, that you’ve already laid the groundwork for the press release.

  17. bob says:

    This is a great and inspiring story but I am left wondering if you ever franchised your idea and/or, is it reproducible? for example, could you make or take another product or service and do it all over? and continually add to your line?

  18. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ John – it’s always a very delicate balance when you are trying to grow a business around a professional, especially, highly-individualized profession. Being a master service-professional and a business-owner are two radically different skillsets and I know I find myself constantly rebalancing where I want to spend my energyy. Glad to see you’re exploring this journey, though!

    @ Flora – I’m glad you picked up on the adaptability of my experience. The message is really that anyone can do it. it may take a lot of work, but it IS possible.

    @ bob – Actually, I have done this with multiple products and businesses many times over now. Both my own and other marketing and PR clients.

    And, I actually did go pretty far down the franchising road with the yoga studio business, before pulling the plug, because the extraordinary reliance on the individual teacher “energy” and personality of the teachers made it doable, but far more work than I was comfortable allocating over the long-haul, especially in light of the various other projects that began to gather my attention. That, and the fact that I wasn’t in love with the role of “franchisor” in this particular “industry” (pretty funny calling yoga an industry, really). Great question, though.

  19. [...] How to get featured in magazines and newspapers with no connections…and turn it into mega-bucks [...]

  20. Bria says:

    Hi i enjoyed reading ur blog it was very interesting i liked the pictures but there should have been more i like pictures…yayayayayayayayay :)

  21. >If there’s an interest, in a future post, I’ll go into the specifics of crafting press materials and pitching influencers in a way that helps get you noticed and featured. Let me know in the comments.

    Are you kidding? YES, PLEASE- I’d love to hear more specifics! Your article is a great reminder that there is no such thing as luck. Had you not sought out that small niche opportunity, you wouldn’t have the success you’ve had.

  22. Great article, Jonathan! I think yours is great PR advice as sometimes, even the best professionals might find themselves trapped in evaluating who they know and what the budget is, while completely overlooking the newsworthiness of their story.

  23. Stacey says:

    Great post. I’m new to this blog but I’ll be back. I’m in the exact same place now that you were in 2002 and I’m thinking the same way. Thanks for this post, very motivating and timely for me.

  24. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Bria – Will work on the pix! ;-)

    @ Lani – Cool beans, coming in a week or two.

    @ Alina – Yeah, I have been consistently amazed at how much coverage you can get without a publicist

    @ Stacey – Come back soon! Hey, curious, when you say you’re in the same place I was in in 2002, can you you tell me more?

  25. Stacey says:

    I’m back, and happy to tell more.

    I’m in a similar place in terms of the PR/Business Building piece. I don’t have a yoga studio, though I am a yoga instructor. I offer personal/group programs, corporate training and now a media piece (podcasts, blog, newsletter, TV Show). I work with people to help them live healthier with a focus on managing stress, improving confidence and increasing productivity.

    I’m also developing a new program that focuses on what I believe to be 4 key components to healthy living. Prior to starting my business I was a market research professional and my mind still works that way – data oriented. So I’m working to form a group to test the effectiveness of these components (on my own! I’ve done online research and haven’t found data – still searching. I didn’t think of contacting a university – that was a great tip!)

    Over the past couple of years I’ve talked to lots of people about their diet, exercise and wellness habits and that’s how I came up with my 4 components.

    My plan is to use it for publicity purposes.

    I’m also working on product development that would allow me to reach a national (or beyond) audience if I did get the publicity.

    I’ve been featured locally in the newspapers but, like so many others, would like more reach!

    Thanks for asking. It’s an exciting time.

    Has your study been published?

  26. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Stacey – ahhh, got it! Thanks for sharing. No doubt, with your background, you should really be able to shine in the wellness world. Good luck, my friend!

  27. Starlee says:

    Very inspiring. :) After getting someone down over the price of advertising, I googled the phrase “how to get my business featured”. This article was just the pick me up I needed! I have bookmarked this and will most definitely re-read it a few times. Wish me luck! Starlee..

  28. CatherineL says:

    Jonathon – this is a brilliant article. Getting featured in the local news has always been easy – mind you, I live in a much smaller place than New York.

    But, to get featured in the national news would really be something. And I love the way you even show how to create your own newsworthy story. I’ll definitely be trying it. Thank you.

  29. [...] in your blog. Get Featured In National Newspapers and Magazines: In this amazing article – Jonathon Fields explains how to get your business featured in national newspapers and magazines and … On Homer Simpson and Copywriting: Walt Goshert explains why it’s important to picture Homer, [...]

  30. paul hines says:

    Amazing blog, I think I’ve found the motherlode of blogs here, I’ll be around for awhile learning from you seasoned pro’s.

  31. Great Blogs i thing its amazing idea to get more visitore more sell your business

  32. Tim Chambers says:

    Happened upon your blog when I Googled “if you knew you wouldn’t fail”. Followed the link to this page and have to say I’m motivated by your story. One step leads to another, and a great example of faith in action. Thanks!

  33. [...] How to get featured in magazines and newspapers with no connections…and turn it into mega-bucks Think you need great connections to make it into print? Jonathan Fields doesn’t think so. [...]

  34. Claire says:

    Your article is wonderful! It comes to me at the right time. I built my website one year ago. My plan in 2009 is to expand my business and contact magazines to show my designs.

    I would love more posts.

  35. Great article ! It’s always nice to hear of people getting a break and seeing their work pay off like that.I’m looking forward to more and I’ll be sure to read Career Renegade too!

  36. April Lee says:

    I am in awe!! This is exactly what I was looking for and find the article very well written and full of information. I am an advocate of little money, little resources, yet big results and this is by far exactly what I love.

    Currently I am trying to get media coverage for an online application launch. I am having a party for this, I have a few name actors attending and just want to optimize my coverage. I want to be featured in magazines as the founder creator and am hoping to have the success you were able to generate.

    Great job and that is the mind of a true entrepreneur. Congrats!

  37. Amanda says:

    I run a style blog, and we’ve been looking to get the word out. This blog was great – very informative and exactly what I was looking for. Can’t wait to read about crafting press materials and pitching influencers. Thanks for the info!