Toll Free Numbers Make Sales!
AT&T created the first toll-free 800 service for the caller over 35 years ago. In the late 1980's this service began to become an integral part of doing business. The incredible growth of toll-free numbers has even led to the exhaustion of available "800" prefixes and the creation of the new toll-free 888, 877, and 866 prefixes.The toll-free number access vehicle has almost become an absolute necessity for companies offering products and services to the general public. This phenomenon speaks as much about human psychology as it does about technology and marketing. In a study accomplished by Bellcore, paper ads that were almost identical were displayed and monitored. One group had an 800 toll-free number and the others didn't. The toll-free number ads received six times the number of calls as did the regular long-distance listings. It also seems that this will hold true regardless of the socioeconomic level of the caller.
So, You Want To Be A Hot Media Guest?
Here's What It Takes...Spotlight on Laurel Howanitz's HOT GUEST PR
Over the past twelve years, a company in the sleepy little town of Idaho Falls, Idaho has booked over 15,000 media appearances with many of top names in the business, from Sally Jessy to Paul Harvey. Not bad for a six-woman team living and working out of the house. HOT GUEST Inc. has perfected a unique and exciting promotional method to help authors get the word out. They have established a great reputation in the industry and have developed strong working relationships with key media contacts throughout the U.S., Canada, Australia and other English-speaking markets.
Laurel Howanitz was originally working as an assistant for a professional speaker out of West Palm Beach, FL, who suggested she utilize her talent of connecting the media with the fascinating people she discovered who needed help to share their story with the public. The original goal was to handle two or three of these clients a month and maybe make enough to cover the phone expenses. Now, 12 years later, Margi, Lisa, Erin, Beverly and Sherill have joined Hot Guest due to its ever-expanding client base and increased booking activity.
Hot Guest, Inc. represents authors, professional speakers, special causes, industry experts, publishers, sports figures, and entrepreneurs -- anyone who wants their message heard by millions of people. They put a promotional package together for each client, and coordinate all the logistics and details with the media. Hot Guest works with about 5,000 stations, and has booked clients on the Montel Show, Sally Jessy Show, Fox Sports, The Today Show, The Early Morning Show, CNN News, Art Bell Show, Joey Reynolds Show, Rick Dee's Show, Milt Rosenberg Show and Voice of America.
"Radio has been a really effective tool for our clients," says Howanitz. "We try to span an many demographics as we can, and target appearances with a blend of AM-Talk (with great demographics) and FM Variety (with huge listening audiences). Segments range in length from 5-55 minutes. You get aggressive media exposure to promote yourself and your books, seminars, and services."
Not only does Hot Guest arrange for clients to appear as guests on popular radio stations and national television shows, but they teach you how to get the most out of your media interview by providing instruction in how to be a dynamite guest and speaker. Laurel grooms her clients to be the perfect interview, making a HOT GUEST appearance a successful experience for both parties. "Occasionally a client might find themselves on a show that turns out to be the wrong place at the wrong time - we teach our clients how to turn the situation around and make a positive experience out of it."
Hot Guest clients receive a one-hour mock radio interview training session with an award-winning professional radio trainer that knows how to turn you into the most compelling guest you can be. She has headed production and creative services departments and programmed stations. The training is filled with useful "tricks" for a powerful radio interview - such as the art of the sound bite -- that gets the message out.
"The stations we deal with demand responsiveness, quality guests and quality bookings," says Howanitz. "Therefore, we intentionally limit the number and type of clients we contract with. By promoting only high-quality guests we are able to open doors to great media markets and maintain our reputation as the leading media talent referral agency in the industry. When stations book a Hot Guest, they know they are getting someone their listeners will enjoy!"
"Because the media relationships we have established are so important to our mutual success, we ensure that our clients are talented, marketable and of current interest. We pride ourselves in providing the best of knowledgeable and interesting guests, from Pro football players to heart surgeons and even Scooby Doo -- and everything in between. Not only do we guarantee "hot guests" to the stations, our contract comes with a guarantee to the client, of a minimum of at least 7 shows in every 30-day booking period. All our fees include a professionally written bio/tease piece complete with questions written for the media."
HOT GUEST has represented an unusual and impressive mix of clients, from authors to special interest groups, and has an uncanny ability to be able to find an expert in almost any field. A partial list of former and current clients:
Ms. Fitness Magazine
Dr. Roger McIntire - author of five best-selling books
Hope Heart Institute
Girl Hood Journeys - books and dolls sold worldwide
Scott Innes - the voice of Scooby Doo & Shaggy
Holt International - children's adoption service
Berkley Communications - professional speaker & the voice of AT&T
Hugs Not Drugs
Georgia Durante - high profile author
Alan Osmond - former member of the original Osmonds & author
Sen. Valerie Wiener - author of several books & Nevada senator Dave Pelzer - New York Times best-selling author
Dave Pelzer had just published his first book, A Child Called It. His second book, The Lost Boy was at the editing stage, when a long-time client of Laurel's recommended she call Dave. The client described Dave's story as "horrific" and that she needed to call him right away.
"During the first conversation between Dave and myself his pre-requisite for us working together was that I read his book," says Laurel. I'd been warned that it might be hard to get through (the book describes the deplorable child abuse Pelzer survived), but I started reading and couldn't put it down. After several more conversations, we struck a deal where I would represent him."
Hot Guest went on to book Dave on countless radio shows, and after much persistence they landed his first national TV appearance, on Montel Williams' show. The show was a success -- and so was Dave -- and he's been a repeat guest on that show and has appeared on many others, including "Oprah."
"Dave was really getting busy in his career, but he had always said, 'I'll put you in my next book.' The new book came out, and we didn't hear anything, but I went to the bookstore, and much to our surprise, we opened the book and it said 'A gargantuan thanks to Laurel and her staff.' That's the ultimate kudo to me."
Laurel and Hot Guest don't get mentioned in a book by every author they represent (they've been in three so far), but they do try and build that level of rapport with all of their clients. Who knows, maybe they'll be in your book someday...
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Hot Guest Inc.
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Laurel's Top 25 Ingredients of a Great Interview
1. The audience must care about what is said. The content or topic must matter to them, touch their lives, or reach them in a real or true way.
2. Talk to the audience one-on-one. Listeners must feel you are talking to them personally, as if you are speaking to a friend. Embrace the audience through the airwaves. If you take call-ins, say the caller's name when you respond.
3. Humor helps! You don't have to be a funny person recognize a funny moment and run with it. Humor is a key element in powerful radio, especially during early morning shows-making groggy listeners laugh or smile is great!
4. Speak in terms your listener can "picture." A picture is worth a thousand words, but in radio you must paint the picture with your words.
5. Tell the truth. Your audience will know if you are lying.
6. Never be boring. If you are, your audience will tune you out!
7. Audiences want to be entertained. Rush Limbaugh claims this is why he's so successful - her entertains first.
8. YOU are the expert! They want you because of your "national/global" expertise.
9. Never ramble. If you do, you will seem scattered, aimless, unfocused, deadly!
10. Know something local about the area, subject or the host. Your research into local trivia will pay off as you endear yourself the audience, and the host.
11. Be familiar with the prepared questions sent to the host. Hot Guest always sends sample questions along with your bio. However, some hosts may not use them, instead choosing to shoot from the hip and dig deep. Some of the best interviews happen this way! Be flexible and go with the flow.
12. Keep it simple - use laymen's terms. The average listener has the equivalent of a fifth through eighth grade education. Don't lose them with big words.
13. Avoid using too many statistics. If you've got one BIG one, give it to them up front. Wow them, dazzle them, then take it home. But don't overload them with too many numbers.
14. Your message is important. Know how to bridge in an acceptable manner to get back to where you want to go. Don't irritate the host!
15. Remember to do a reality check. Ask yourself questions like: "Why am I a guest on this show today?" and "What is important about what I am saying?"
16. Break the ice with the host before you are on air. Whether you are going on radio or TV, take advantage of any time spent with the host before the show begins to establish a friendly, relaxed relationship.
17. Dress appropriately for televised appearances. Your best bet is always a business suit. However, if the interview is conducted in your work setting, then wear the clothes you usually wear to work.
18. Use catchy names and phone numbers. People will remember a number if it's catchy or easy, such as 1-800-HOTTEST or 1-800-BELIEVE. You must give out your number once every 15 minutes.
19. Never prop the telephone against your chin during an interview. Your voice will sound muffled and unnatural. Try standing instead-you may sound more relaxed.
20. You want to be asked back! Just because you've done a show once doesn't mean you can't be on that program again. Conduct every interview with a positive attitude, and the hosts will be begging to have you again. Make it your goal!
21. Be Prepared! Always have a copy of your book/information nearby, as well as pen & paper, a glass of water, and a box of tissues. You might need to refresh your memory, as well as your voice and nose during an interview. And, you never know what you might like to jot down - an interesting caller's number, a hot tip, or idea for your business.
22. Smile! If possible, conduct your interview in front of a mirror. Your voice will be more animated and your smile really will come through over the phone!
23. It's your interview - listen to yourself! Make sure your voice inflections sound authoritative, energetic, and easy to listen to, not hesitant, sing-song, or monotone. Avoid using "ums," "ahs," and "you knows" while thinking on your feet. Pause instead - you'll sound more professional and what you say next will have more impact.
24. Make them remember you! Repeat your book/business name and phone number as much as politely possible. People can't get in touch with you if they don't know who you are. Keep a cheat-sheet by the phone, and write down three points you want to drive home. On the average, people remember three things. Put checks by them as you say them.
25. Direct your audience. If you want them to go out and buy your book, tell them how! For example, tell them where to find it in the bookstore, whether in the "how-to" section or wherever else it may be found.