How to get people to pay attention (because they’re not)

It’s hard to get people to listen, for like, longer than two seconds. It really is. Even when it’s their job to pay attention.

Ever read Oren Klaff’s “Pitch Anything?” He made it so clear to me why we miss the mark:

It’s because we assume that the moment we pitch (what we think is a genius) idea to someone, we imagine we’re transmitting that idea from the smartest part of our brain to the smartest part of theirs.

Nope. Not how it works. At all.

What happens is that this (genius) idea leaves the CEO’s office of your brain…and has to actually go around back and face off with the big dumb bouncer at the base of the other person’s brain stem—the part that’s 5 million years behind and communicates in grunts.

In other words, every time you pitch, you start from scratch.

You can’t start at level 7 or 8 (which is what we tend to do). You have to go back to zero, maybe subzero, to make it really clear. Can’t explain it or don’t want to take the time? You’re done. No one wants to run to play catchup—they need you to slow down so they can get on the bus.

This applies in literally every incident in which you’ll pitch an idea—from getting your boss to give you a promotion to getting your spouse to go with you to see a romcom.

But for people who are trying to get their ideas heard in the media, it’s particular important. Because you know why most people don’t end up getting on TV or being featured in magazines and podcasts? 

Not because they’re not smart or attractive enough.

And not because they have nothing to say. 

Either they don’t know how to ask, or they simply don’t ask, period. 

I spent the better part of a decade as a magazine editor at Martha Stewart. My biz partner Paula Rizzo spent so many years as a TV news producer (Emmy award-winning, mind you), that she backtimes her grocery delivery (it’s a producer thing. She’s ruined for life.) 

And over the course of our media careers, we’ve said no to most pitches that came across our desks, and yes to a fraction of 1%.

And if you’ve ever worked in a newsroom or editorial office, you’d hear all the crosstalk that happens as media gatekeepers of every stripe talking about why they can’t use half the things they get—and why they jump all over the good ones.

But unless you were a fly on the wall, HOW WOULD YOU KNOW? You wouldn’t.

And while yes, you have to cultivate relationships with the media (and there is an art to that), you also have to have something they want. I don’t care how “nice” you are. Without a great idea, you can’t get anywhere. Trust me on that. 

So…what DO they want? What’s the best way to give it to them?

  1. Something that serves them, not you. I know you want to promote your book, your brand, your business. That new mission or revolution or cool tech product you came up with. That’s great! But no one is interested in promoting your stuff. They’re not.It’s like trying to get someone you don’t know to care about your kid’s baby pictures. Cute, but, like, I not only don’t know who this kid is, but I don’t know who YOU are.

    Instead, start where THEY are. What do THEY want? Well. Something valuable to THEIR audience, and which fits what they’re trying to do as a publication or outlet or show. You’ve got to start with where they are, not where you are.

  2. An idea that challenges an old assumption.Cliches are like weeds in a newsroom or editorial office. They persist endlessly and take up space. Editors and producers are ignoring or expunging them to clear the way for the real stuff.

    Since editors and producers have seen and done everything before, their eyerolls are on a hair trigger.

    So even if it’s new to you, assume that an idea you have (for a story, topic, segment) is probably one they’ve come across. So take the assumption—and twist it. How can you come at your approach in a FRESH way? A counterintuitive way? Challenge yourself in the process, and you will come up with something you might not have thought of.

There are so many other “open” secrets about pitching media. And trust me, the media is not trying to keep any of it a secret! They wish everyone knew these things but they simply do not have time to teach you.

But we do. And we’re doing it for free on March 13 and 14, 2018.

Paula and I are running our live free training, 5 Little Known Secrets to Snagging Media Attention, and you can register for it here.

I know everyone says spots are limited, but this is the truth because the Zoom webinar we use caps at 100, and we’re close to full. BUT. If someone who did register doesn’t show up, you could grab their spot. But you have to be on the list. 

So get on it! It’s going to be so fun. And besides. It’s high time more people knew about you.