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How do you get their attention in the first place? You can send out a press release briefly describing your work, your idea, and your availability—which should be at a moment's notice, if needed. Include a link to your website so they can learn more about you if they're interested. Think short and sweet here. Four or five sentences will do.
Producers typically get hundreds of e-mails a day, and only respond to the few that seem catchy.
Alternatively, you can blog on contemporary issues or news items and hope that your post will be picked up by one of the news services (Google, for example). You'll need to be patient and persistent because of the huge volume of commentaries out there. And if you're truly determined to go public, consider hiring a publicist. They know how to spread your good name around (provided you have something unique to offer) and can get you bookings—for a fee, of course.
Once you're on the air, forget cautious neutrality. Take a stance on an issue, and speak with conviction. Think brief and catchy, and include colorful details that people will remember. If you have an anecdote to illustrate your point, by all means share it. And have no more than two or three points on the tip of your tongue, so you can avoid getting bogged down in minutia. As with politicians, viewers are likelier to remember the way you affected them—your personal impact—than the information you presented, so you should keep your message simple.
If your segment is being taped, there's some room for error and even excessive elaboration every now and then. The producers are likely to edit out anything you say that isn't directly relevant or sufficiently catchy anyway. It's not unusual to be interviewed for 15 or 20 minutes and only have a sentence or two used, particularly if it's on the news. Live TV or radio is another story: you only get one chance, and you have to make it count. So crank it up, get right to the point, and speak with conviction and lots of energy!
Appearing on television or radio can promote your practice, sell your books, and lead to further speaking engagements. But don't count on making money doing this unless you're hired by a network to be a regular. However, if you want to broaden your horizons and have some fun in the process, setting out on the media trail is a great idea.
Neil Bernstein, Ph.D., has made more than 300 appearances on radio and TV shows, including on Sally Jessy Raphael, Donahue, Oprah, Charlie Rose, Today, ABC World News, and 20/20. He writes the parenting column for Examiner.com. His most recent book is There When He Needs You: How to Be an Available, Involved, and Emotionally Connected Father to Your Son. Contact: email@example.com. Tell us what you think about this article by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.psychotherapynetworker.org. Log in and you'll find the comment section on every page of the online Magazine section.