How We Landed a Newspaper Interview

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Categories: Book Blogs, Drugs Make You Un-Smarter, On Writing and Publishing

I was an author and grandmother living in Salt Lake City, Utah.  I co-authored the book, Drugs Make You Un-Smarter, with my fifteen-year-old granddaughter, Savanna Peterson, telling teens about the dangers of drugs.

To get our anti-drug message out, we needed a newspaper interview.  I sent out a press release, but not everyone picks up on a release.  I searched online for the phone number for the Salt Lake Tribune.  I have found in the past that the quickest way to get an interview was:

 1) Know someone who writes interviews for the newspaper, or  2) Call on the phone. Sending out emails hasn’t worked for me.

Getting an interview for a local newspaper
Having an interview in a newspaper can be free advertising for authors

I located a list of editors online, but I wasn’t sure which section of the Tribune would be a match for our drug-free story.  I called the general phone number and gave a very short pitch—some call it an elevator pitch.  “Hello, my name is Jill Vanderwood.  I have a human interest story you might be interested in.  I wrote a book with my fifteen-year-old granddaughter, Savanna Peterson. Even though her father spent most of her life in prison for drug-related crimes and her brother has parties with drugs, Savanna made a vow to remain drug-free.”

The general information operator said, “Thank you! I think your story will interest [I can’t remember the name].” I will connect you with her voice mail.”

“Thank you very much! Have a nice day!”

When I was connected with the voice mailbox, I once again spoke very clearly and gave my short speech, spelling my last name and repeating my phone number very slowly at least twice. I made my call on a Monday and on Tuesday I heard from a reporter named Natalie Dicou. She was interested in doing a newspaper interview and writing an article for the Salt Lake Tribune, from an educational perspective. She asked if she could come to my home the following afternoon to interview Savanna and me for the Close Up section of the Tribune.  She also said she would bring along a photographer.

After the newspaper interview, she said the article would come out the following Thursday, but we could find it online in a few days. The article, Kearns High student is voice of experience in anti-drug book, only came out in the area where we live. I bought two newspapers downtown before I noticed the downtown Salt Lake City newspaper was running a different story.

Tips:

  • If your book isn’t newsworthy, make it newsworthy—with my first fiction, children’s book, Through the Rug,  I ran a fundraiser for the Literacy Action Center. Because my book was connected with a charity event, my story became newsworthy. With my book, Through the Rug 2: Follow That Dog, I ran a fundraiser for the Wheelchair Foundation.
  • Don’t worry if your story only comes out in the area where you live. It is widely available on the internet. The online title of our article is Kearns High Students Pens Anti Drug Book—yes students pens! http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/51306809-78/drugs-peterson-book-vanderwood.html.csp
  • For those who don’t see your article, send the link through Twitter and Facebook.
  • If you can’t get an interview with a major newspaper in your area, try the Valley Journal or small local paper. Local authors are big news for local newspapers.
  • Buy as many papers as you can, with your article.
  • Print extra copies of your article to put into your press/media kit.

Look for my next article: The Snowball Effect of Media Attention

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