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The Core-Message Key to Media Coverage

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A media interview is like gathering honey–the rewards are sweet if you can avoid the sting. A good way to get the media buzzing around your book is by crafting a core message packed with value for the audience.

Distill your ideas into a potent elixir, the very essence of what you have to say. To demonstrate credibility and arouse interest during an interview, return to this core statement again and again. Your information-overloaded audience will love you for simplifying your message. As Henry James said, “In art, economy is always beauty.”

First, stand back from your own wonderful ideas and take a look at your readers, your audience. Ask some important questions. Why should they care about what you wrote–what’s in it for them? Why is your book so important that people should buy it? How will it deepen their understanding and enrich their lives?

Now write a 20-word summary of the answers. Play with the summary until you can deliver it within 15 seconds. Try it out on your friends and neighbors. Say it two or three different ways driving in the car. Practice it out loud until it sounds perfectly spontaneous. Then sleep on it and recall it first thing in the morning. That’s your core message, your raison d’etre–thecentral idea that should underlie an entire interview. Draw a circle in the middle of a piece of paper and write your core message inside it.


Take Control with the Tinker-Toy Chart

Once you have a core message, it’s time to build from it. Brainstorm the points that support it and pick the most important three. Why three? Think of all the things that come in threes: Earth, moon, and sun; beginning, middle, and end; morning, noon, and night; the three bears. Maybe it’s all part of the Great Mystery but three does seem to be a magic number.

You’ll want to bring up these three “talking points” in every interview. Draw the major talking points of your core message as three spokes from your circle. It’s easy to jump from core message to talking point because they’re so closely connected.

Finally draw three balloons on the end of every talking-point spoke, for a total of nine circles. This is where you can let your creativity fly. Fill each balloon with a fact, a story, a piece of evidence, an analogy, or an example—whatever gives “lift” to each talking point. Use colorful, vivid language and anecdotes from your own experience. Make facts precise; instead of using “more than 70%,” be exact with “74.8%.”

With your pre-designed media interview structured like a hub-and-spoke Tinker Toy around your central core message, you can “start anywhere, go everywhere” when the crossfire of questions and answers begins. Just remember to link back often to your core message. Rehearse the interview using this simple “mind map” and visualize the framework while you meet the press. Even in the busiest media swarm, you’ll keep the focus on the message that matters most.


Bob Karstens is a media coach, professional speaker, and communication architect based in Austin, Texas. A former television news anchor, reporter, and radio host, he helps people in organizations put the power of trust to work through WisdomTools Inc. For more information: bob@wisdomway.com or 512/347-7555.


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