* I’m fortunate to offer a series of guest posts by my friend Susan Harrow, media coach extraordinaire of PrSecrets.com, in advance of the secrets of sound bites free teleseminar we’re offering on August 31, 2011. See below for links for more information and to register!*
Many people don’t understand what sound bites are. They don’t know how to create sound bites that sell. They don’t know that it’s not enough to be clever, entertaining or quippy. That might make TV and radio hosts happy, but it often won’t bring in the kind of results you’re looking for: to grow your business, sell more product, get new clients, more customers, or increase your fees.
You want to develop sound bites that speak to who you are, what you do and how well you do it. Sound bites are the essential messages that will create sales and recognition. They consist of anecdotes, analogies, stories, one-liners, and facts that you can speak in 15-30 seconds. They should be singly focused on what you want your audience to know. To turn media interviews into sales here are three things you can do.
1. Incorporate Your Past into Your Present Experience.
Camus says, “We are the sum of our choices.” We want to know how your childhood dreams have influenced the career you’ve chosen. Your past often has predictors to your future interests and life decisions. If you don’t want to go back as far as childhood then go back in your professional career. Sarah Newton, The UK’s Top Teen Coach, said that when she was a juvenile corrections officer what she heard from teenagers most was that they didn’t feel heard, understood or respected. “The most important thing a parent can do is listen,” says Newton.
Often sound bites like Newton’s seem simple. But it takes work to distill your ideas down to their essence. It’s the unadorned statement that is often the most powerful.
Another way to tie past to present is to show how your passion drives your profession. “People think I am disciplined. It is not discipline. It is devotion. There is a great difference,” says Luciano Pavarotti. Choose the words that show your devotion.
2. Include Client Successes.
How has your product or service impacted your clients or customers? Tell a story that centers on that success. Marty Friedman, seminar Leader and author of Straight Talk for Men About Marriage, says, “An attorney who came to one of my seminars said he didn’t really think he got much out of it–until he got home and his wife wanted to have sex with him–for the first time in months. ‘I guess I must have learned a little something,’ the attorney admitted.”
Friedman tells a very succinct story with a potent punch line. And this sound bite lets you know that his methods are so powerful they work on non-believers and hard-sell cases like attorneys.
3. Show Your Suffering.
The people I’ve known who have suffered the most are funny, sarcastic, and wise, but never saccharin. Saccharin is all this sweet talk about love and understanding and comes off as facile. Love, understanding and forgiveness aren’t sickly tender. They often come out of bitterness, hopelessness and heartache. We trust those people who have suffered or who have failed over and over again and are willing to share their insights–in a non-showy way.
Dr. Vicki Rackner, CEO of Medical Bridges and Medical Editor of the Hope Health Letter which reaches over 3 million people says that at age 40 she made a radical choice: to close her private practice to be with her son. “As the operating room door closed, another opened. I can’t tell you that everyone lived happily ever after because we’re just at `once upon a time.’”
Closing her practice, the choice she made to forgo surgery in favor of becoming a patient advocate, goes against the grain of what “society” could deem is proper for a board certified surgeon with a full practice. You know right away that she is thoughtful and has tremendous empathy and insight. As a patient wouldn’t you want her on your side?
Sound bites, speaking in condensed language to convey your points, is an art to be practiced daily in and out of media interviews until it becomes a natural way of speaking.
If you incorporate your past into your present experience, include client successes, and show your suffering during an interview you’ll be perceived as an expert, increase your sales, and develop a following all while demonstrating your humanity.
Susan Harrow, CEO of http://prsecrets.com, is a top media coach, marketing strategist and author of Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul® (HarperCollins), The Ultimate Guide to Getting Booked on Oprah, and Get a 6- Figure Book Advance. Clients include Fortune 500 CEOs, bestselling authors and entrepreneurs who have appeared on Oprah, 60 Minutes, NPR, and in TIME, USA Today, Parade, People, O, NY Times, WSJ, and Inc.