Let’s Face it- the more publicity, the higher the perception of this professional having higher authority or celebrity status in the field.
In this episode, Barbara and Lisa discuss:
-What are TV programs looking for with their guests?
-How building relationships in the entertainment industry helps you in the long run
-How TV production works
“Don’t just let it be all great inspiration, take something you can put into practice and create a result from it!” – Lisa Richards.
Connect with Lisa Richards:
Connect with Barbara Hales:
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Dr. Barbara Hales: Welcome to another episode of Marketing Tips for Doctors!
I’m your host, Dr. Barbara Hales. Today we are fortunate enough to have Lisa Simone Richards. So exciting!
Lisa Richards: Thank you! I’m so excited to be here!
Dr. Barbara Hales: Lisa is a publicist for doctors and health professionals who want to become regular guest experts and TV, top-rated podcasts, and other major media. After working with her, Lisa’s clients are recognized as industry thought- leaders, add an extra comma to their annual revenue—which I’m always for, and increase their “it factor” with a sold-out brand.
With brand experience, including Virgin Mobile, Staples, Crayola, and more, she gives constant expert access to the same PR strategies multi-million international companies use to scale their businesses. Her clients often get pressed on national media, including Fox, NBC, Forbes, and more, during the first 30 days of working with her.
On weekends, you can find her playing in the kitchen with her husband, petting all of the dogs in the park, and watching way too many fashion styling videos on YouTube. Well, welcome to the show, Lisa.
Lisa Richards: Like I said, thank you so much for having me, Barbara! I’m so excited to be here and chat with you this afternoon.
How it Started
Dr. Barbara Hales: So why did this come about? How did you wind up getting into the field you’re currently in?
Lisa Richards: So when in 2002—I was in my first year of undergrad at Western University in Ontario. And I had just joined a sorority and I was having lunch with a girl in her fourth year who was showing me the ropes and she was about to graduate. And she was telling me after graduation, she was going to be going to PR school. Now 2002, the biggest show at the moment was Sex and the City. One of the four lead characters, Samantha Jones, had a PR agency, and it was all fashion, beauty, parties, and dinners. And I was like, that sounds cool. I’m into that. Right, I was enrolled.
So I got my start in the fashion and beauty industry, which I did for a few years. Then I moved into an agency setting where I worked with some of the clients who had mentioned before. And a funny story about me starting to work with doctors was, you know, I had an opportunity after being in an agency to work with a small business and make a difference, not just be the smallest team member. And I was able to help that company’s tax revenue over four years, going from 400,000 a year to 4 million a year.
A lot of small business owners can’t go to an agency like the one that I used to work at because they’re going to be told, “Absolutely, we’d love to represent you.”, it’s $10,000 a month, here’s a 12-month retainer. I wanted to make these practices available to small businesses.
And it just so happened that some friends from high school were chiropractic doctors, and a girl I also knew from sorority land back in undergrad was now a television producer. And she reached out to me and said, “Lisa, I know you’re in publicity. I’m looking for some chiropractors that could come onto the show. Do you know anyone?”, I’m like, hold on, this could be a business. And here we are now seven years later.
Dr. Barbara Hales: Well, it’s funny how things are so fortuitous. People wind up falling into things they never foresaw when they say, “This is what I want to do when I grow up.” It just—life happens.
Lisa Richards: One thing I love is that I knew I’d end up in communications. There’s this picture of me around three years old, sitting in the snow holding a phone. So I knew I’d end up doing something where I talked, but I needed clarification on what. And one of the things I’ve loved about working in this industry is it’s such a translatable skill. You can use it with doctors, telecommunications, products, fashion, beauty, and food. So it’s been fun to explore a number of different areas with this practice.
What TV Stations Like
Dr. Barbara Hales: You probably have seen that it’s not that easy for most people to get on TV shows that programs are very selective about the professionals they’re willing to take. What approach do you recommend health professionals take or what stories are TV stations most attracted to accepting?
Lisa Richards: So the cool thing is it’s not as hard to get on TV as people think and you’re 100% Correct. Producers are discerning in who they choose to bring to their shows. But some ways to make it easier to be a lot more attractive is by pitching themselves for a television opportunity, especially regarding TV.
I’m going to share a few tips here. Number one, start going local and start with a morning television show. Everybody wants to start on Good Morning America, the producers are looking for a strong demo reel before you start there. So unless you already have a ton of experience, start local. I always recommend morning television shows as a start because when you think about it, let’s say the lunchtime news is about an hour, the evening news is an hour and that’s hard news stories of the day. But morning shows? Typically from 6 to 9 am, Monday through Friday, that is 15 hours of content that a handful of producers are responsible for. So when someone comes in with a really good idea that will take up somewhere between four and seven minutes, it actually makes them a huge solid.
So if you can pitch an idea and paint the picture for the producer over seven minutes, we would do this. These would be the takeaways for your viewers. If you can just make it as easy for that person as possible. That’s going to increase your chances.
One more tip that I’d love to share, make it timely. What’s being talked about right now? We’re having this conversation towards the end of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness month. It’s also National Blindness Awareness Month. Is there something you can speak to with those topics? What’s coming up in the news right now? Take a look at today’s paper because that’s newsworthy content. Can you offer a perspective on what’s being talked about?
So being timely is something that’s always going to win in television. Because if it’s a general story, we might come back to that later. But if you make it timely, that gives them a sense of urgency to put you on sooner rather than later.
Dr. Barbara Hales: How far in advance do media channels book?
Lisa Richards: That is a great question. So that’s called lead times in the industry. When it comes to morning television, when it comes to news, they have the power to be more flexible. If something happened today, that was a great idea. It could be on TV by tomorrow.
But typically, with something that’s a little more planned like a commemorative day, week, or month, like we were talking about, I think you’re safe to pitch an idea somewhere between two and three weeks in advance. That’s a healthy amount of time to send a pitch out, do a follow-up, and then coordinate something in advance of that desired date.
Going back to television, I’ve homed in on morning shows because that’s where most of my clients see their success. But we also have daytime TV shows that are out around noon or 1. Softer lifestyle content, like The View, for example, those shows where we have longer lead times. As we said, morning shows, Monday through Friday, three hours each day, and 15 hours of content. However, daytime shows one hour a day, five days a week, and they get a third of that airtime. So they’re a lot more selective and it books up faster. So that’s where you’re looking at something with more like a 6-to-8-week lead time because they’re planning that since they have limited time available.
Dr. Barbara Hales: Does a show like The View take guests from off the show or do they stick with the people that they have as staff?
Lisa Richards: So once you’re getting to more of those national television shows, relationships do matter. Because they have a ton of people who would love to be on there. So I’ve seen a lot in my experience with guests on television shows that they will often start on a local morning station.
This is a true story about one of my clients, Sarah Taylor. We were shooting for a local television show in Toronto called Breakfast Television. It was her first time doing a segment with him, we were up on the roof. It was great. She had two women doing a workout with her flanked on the screen. And at the end of the segment, after the camera was off, the host turned to the producer and said, “She would do a really good job on City Line, ” a national television show that airs at 9 am. After Breakfast Television, BT Breakfast Television is local to Toronto, but City Line is across the country. So when they were like yeah, she would be good for that show, that was her in and she has gone on to do at least six to 10 Breakfast Television segments, at least 5 to 10, City Lines segments to date. And that spun into a whole bunch of other opportunities for her.
So start with that hyperlocal to build up your skill. Also, if you’re getting on national television, you want to be polished with your message, be confident, and have the back end set up for all the attention you’re about to get. So start local, and build those relationships. And that’s how you’re going to get to those bigger stages.
Dr. Barbara Hales: Do you help with the message creation?
Lisa Richards: Oh, 100%. When I start working with clients, I typically take them through my 5P Formula for Positioning Publicity and Profit. And briefly, in the second step, I’ll jump you through the process. The second step is to position yourself as the solution. One of the things I come across with so many people who are educated and know so much about their industry is they can be super technical. They’re well-versed and educated. But we have to find a way. How do we spin this to make it relatable to the common person?
A great example of this is back to those chiropractors I mentioned earlier. I worked with them in 2015. And in 2015, we started getting front-facing cameras on our phones. So they had said to me—”You know, Lisa, all these people are holding their phones at this angle. Why don’t we pitch an elbow and wrist alignment story to the morning news.” And I was like, guys, I love you so much. And it is so hard to be the bearer of bad news. But if I was just anybody at home, watching the morning news, and I heard a segment on elbow and wrist alignment coming up, I’d go to the bathroom, get a snack, or change channels. And that’s what the producer has to think they care about their audience and ratings. So that’s not the thing that’s going to land.
However, love her or hate her—the next week, Kim Kardashian went to London in the UK and took 1500 selfies in a week. And I was like, guys, let’s roll off of this. Kim Kardashian took 1500 selfies in a week. What does that do to your elbows and wrists? So we took the same content that they wanted to share in the first place. We packaged it in a way that was going to perk up racers’ ears, it would make people watch television and not go get a snack. And that landed them a national segment. It got them a magazine article. And it also got them a radio interview.
So it’s about taking the concepts we want to talk about, but how do we massage them so that they’re interesting to people? I love my dentist. But as she goes into all these details, about my bicuspids and stuff like, with love, I don’t care. I want clean teeth. So we figure out a message that people will be interested in hearing.
Being in Front of the Camera
Dr. Barbara Hales: Well, that makes a lot of sense. Have you ever considered being in front of the camera or do you prefer putting your clients there instead?
Lisa Richards: Oh, that’s such a funny question. I used to get that a lot that people would be oh my gosh, fun story—I was working for a company and my CEO was just dying to be a regular on this one television show. And we got her a spot once they liked her. But they didn’t have her back. The host was like “Lisa, we want you to come back. We want you to talk about this topic.” I’m like, “I want to keep having a job. I can’t come on camera. Can you please put my CEO on?” And she was like, “Yeah, no.”
So I have been asked to be on camera in the past and funny story—I have been on camera before it’s not my thing. Trust me, I have only child syndrome. I love being on stage and getting all the attention. But the last time I was on television was on a makeover episode of a daytime TV show. And the episode was called 30, Single, and Loving It and I got to do really fun makeover. Little did I know I was getting engaged the next month.
Dr. Barbara Hales: Well, congratulations!
Lisa Richards: Oh, thank you. We’ve been married for a year now.
Dr. Barbara Hales: The first year is the hardest. You know, if you’re in love after a year, you’re going to make it to your 50th.
Lisa Richards: That’s the best news ever. Because here’s a little fun Lisa fact from behind the scenes. We didn’t move in until about five months ago. So we got married and then returned to our own homes for about eight months. So now we’re in the phase of like, okay, let’s integrate life, but it’s been going well, and we’re enjoying it. It will be a fantastic 50+ years.
Dr. Barbara Hales: That is good. What is the number one problem or dilemma for newlyweds?
Lisa Richards: Money, domestic chores, what else could come up? I don’t know. It’s one of those two.
Dr. Barbara Hales: What to make for dinner. When you’re single and hungry, you just get something to eat. But all of a sudden, now you have to figure out how to feed somebody else. And that you have to cook, and you’d have to think about it in advance. And you know that’s such a dilemma for people.
Lisa Richards: And you know what’s so funny? My husband and I love to play in the kitchen, and we love to cook. The other day something came up in conversation. I asked, “Do we have a regular go-to thing for dinner?” He’s like, “No, we’re always trying new stuff.”
Dr. Barbara Hales: That’s great!
Lisa Richards: Beef Wellington, we got to get better at that. We’ve tried three or four times, but we’ll keep practicing.
Dr. Barbara Hales: The next question—getting back on the topic I’d like to discuss is for the publicity releases.
Lisa Richards: Okay. Oh, this will be fun!
Dr. Barbara Hales: You might think what you’re doing is of great interest to the public. The media might say we’re not interested in it at all. How do you write one of these releases that will get picked up by the media?
Lisa Richards: Okay, fantastic. I have some answers and some strong opinions on this one. So back when I worked at an agency, press releases were something that we were regularly using. This was around 2007 or so. Now that I’m working with some corporate clients, I do a handful of press releases. But a press release is not what you do for the average small business owner or individual practitioner. You’re looking for something that’s called a pitch, a simple email from one person to another saying, “Hey, I had an idea for a segment.” And I’m going to share some tips for a good pitch.
The number one mistake I see people make when pitching themselves for media opportunities is they make it all about themselves. And they need to lead with value. Hey, I do XY and Z. And I’m capable of ABC and won 123 awards. As soon as a producer reads through that, their eyes glaze over. They are not interested in giving you a free commercial with love.
That was the hardest thing I’ve heard in PR school, but it served me well. So what I encourage people to do is—how can you lead with value? How can you ensure that the viewers will want to stay on the station and that anybody that watches can leave richer than they came?
Something I always share with my clients when they’re about to do any media appearance, whether it’s a podcast interview, a radio interview, or a television segment, is to make sure that people number one—have a short-term win, something they can do in five minutes or less to feel successful, but also set them up with something that they need to do a little bit longer term. And that’s where you come in as a facilitator to show them along the way. So that way, you’re really making sure that, whether or not someone takes the next step with you, they can see some improvement in their life, their process, or whatever you might be talking about.
So leading with value is the most critical thing to do. And a litmus test I like to put my clients through when they’re sending out their own pitches because I also love to teach people how to do this is just before you hit send on that email, scroll through the left margin of your paragraphs, how many of them begin with I, me, or my. And if you’re seeing I, me, or my showing up over and over again, guess what? You’ve made that entire pitch about you. So shifted from “I would love to come on TV and talk about” to “Your viewers could really do with an understanding of XYZ, and I would be able to share with them how to do that.” Same sentence, same content, we’ve just shifted them around.
So as much as you can make that positioning lead with your viewers, your audience, and how it will benefit them. Now you’re thinking from the producer’s point of view because they care about most of the value for their audience and keeping their advertisers.
Opportunities with HARO
Dr. Barbara Hales: How helpful is it to join HARO?
Lisa Richards: Oh, I had some clients get great opportunities from HARO. I don’t scan it much of my done-for-you PRs are specific clients. We don’t use them here it was much, but I had one client. This was a fitness instructor who used HARO and responded to a query from an online publication, Pop Sugar. And Popsugar, it gets more viewers per month than Refinery29, Vogue, and CNN combined. So if you’re in health, fitness, and wellness, for millennials, that is gold.
So she responded to a HARO query and got a feature with Jenny Sugar, the author, and they developed a really good relationship and one feature turned to two to three to eight, ultimately. And at the time, this was during lockdowns, so they were doing a lot of digital content to connect with their audience. And they would invite personal trainers to come and lead a workout on Instagram Live. And they invited my client to do that. Now sadly, it didn’t end up coming to fruition.
But had it, they had just under a million viewers at the time. What would it have been like for my client to do a live on Instagram on an account with 900,000 Plus viewers, let’s be real, the Instagram algorithm is not showing it to almost a million people? But if 1/10 of 9000 people were watching that, and even a 10th of that, like 900 people, decided to work with her, what would that do to her business this year?
So you never know what could happen. And I think HARO is an avenue worth pursuing. If I can offer a quick tip, skim the headlines because now they break it down into lifestyle, business, etc. That’ll save a ton of time between reading through the different opportunities.
Dr. Barbara Hales: That’s great. When you are considering giving a pitch, would a demonstration of what you’re talking about make you stand out more than someone giving a pitch without a demonstration associated with it?
Lisa Richards: Absolutely. I am such a huge believer. And again, we were saying earlier, but how can you really paint that picture for the producer? Because the more questions that they have, the more gaps there are. That creates friction. There’s work they need to do now, and they’re less likely to move forward.
So when I’m spending, for example, I work with a number of fitness clients. And when we send a pitch over they’re saying, we’re going to do an excerpt, we’re going to do a segment with these kinds of exercises. What is the name of the exercise? I’ll hyperlink it to a YouTube video. It’s not their own, they are just showing what it is.
So now we’re helping the producer see what this could look like. They’re considering okay; what are the camera angles? We’re going to need someone on the ground the whole time. Are they jumping? Being able to do those little things behind the scenes helps makes their jobs so much easier. So even if it’s not your own content, we could do something like this and link to it, and they can start getting a sense of how that would lay out visually.
Dr. Barbara Hales: Well, that does make a lot of sense. What are two tips that you could give our listening audience, who are now like really revved up after hearing, going “Oh, my God, I want to do this.” And I need to speak quickly. So what two tips would you recommend?
Lisa Richards: The first thing I would do is encourage people to think about what’s the end goal. Getting visibility is awesome. That’s great, but what do you want to get from it? Is it more people walking into your physical practice? Are you selling more books? Do you want to be able to book opportunities for stages, so being crystal clear on the outcome, this publicity is moving you towards is going to make sure that the work that you’re doing is intentional, leading to the result that you want to create?
That would be number one, be intentional about what you want to do. And then what would the second step be? The second thing for me would be to consider now that know what I want to create. Who is that audience you want to be in front of and where are they paying attention? Another mistake that I see people make sometimes is they’re thinking about what they would pay attention to, but not necessarily the desired audience. So even taking it back to that fitness example, because I’ve worked with many fitness companies, I get many trainers and studio owners coming my way. I’ll have studio owners say to me, you know what, Lisa, I work with women who are coming to the gym for the first time. And I would love to get featured in Bodybuilding Magazine, Oxygen, and Strong and Muscle and Fitness. And I’m like, you read those, but she does not like let’s talk about Cosmo, Self, Popsugar.
So being intentional about knowing who’s the right person and where to get in front of them. That’s going to make sure the effort and work you’re putting in pay off in the result you want to create.
How to Reach Lisa
Dr. Barbara Hales: Those are great tips. Lisa, how can our audience reach you?
Lisa Richards: So the best way to find me, if you’re curious about getting on television, is to head over to www.publicityfordoctors.com. Because that’s where I have my Doctors’ Guide to Getting on TV, sharing five tips to help you get started along the way, including a training video that will help you too. So that’s over again, www.publicityfordoctors.com. Otherwise, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. I am the only Lisa Simone Richards on there. I use my middle name for marketing search purposes because there are too many Lisa Richardses otherwise.
Dr. Barbara Hales: Well, that’s wonderful. This has been a lot of fun. Thank you so much for being here today.
Lisa Richards: Oh, I’m so appreciative. Thank you for the invitation. And if you’ve just invested 25, 30 minutes and listening to this episode. Don’t just let it be all great inspiration, take something you can put into practice and create a result from it because there have been people who’ve listened to me on podcasts before and booked TV segments so you could be the next one.
Dr. Barbara Hales: That is great advice again. Thank you, Lisa. This has been another episode of Marketing Tips for Doctors with your host Dr. Barbara Hales. Til next time!