Nothing Beats a Good Gimmick

The word gimmick has a lot of negative connotations because sometimes it can be cheesy. It can seem tawdry. I am not talking about anything unethical or embarrassing but sometimes you do need something that just makes a topic you want to discuss more interesting to people. I face that challenge in 2008. I had a new book coming out secret to foolproof presentations. I wanted to do a lot of media interviews talking promoting the book selling the book but there is only one problem.  Most TV producers radio producers are not that interested in authors especially authors who talk about a public speaking book. Because even at that time if you went on amazon, there were about 10,000 books about public speaking.

So how do I solve this problem?  How do I get people interested in it? So I tried to be creative and think about something that could cut through the sheer boredom and the tediousness of an old topic. So I thought rather than asking people to have me on the show to talk about my book and public speaking, why do not I try to engage talk-show hosts around the country. So what I did is I set out as a goal to get into the Guinness book of records for speaking and talking on the most talk shows ever in a 24-hour period. So now my pitch to talk radio shows everywhere was how would you like to be a part of a Guinness book of records and I will promote you. I will send out a press release in your community talking about how you were a part of this Guinness book of records.

Now all of a sudden I have a talk show host who in general love publicity and attention for themselves interested in being a part of this. So rather than killing myself to get two or three bookings I was generating massive amounts of booking. So we picked a day all the promotion was geared towards getting the talk shows booked for one 24-hour period. It was a 6 a.m. To a 6 a.m.  I did ten interviews in the first hour and the second hour another 10. The third on and at that point the Guinness book of records was something like 54 talk show appearances in a 24-hour period and these are talk radio. So I was not having to drive to different places.

My colleagues and I at media training worldwide did all the interviews from one place. We actually did it from a news network in Manhattan and the whole thing was simulcast on that news network on an internet news channel. So it was kind of a show within a show and I will never forget like 3:00 in the morning I am talking to my colleague: “Chris, Chris are we going to make it? How many do we have?” It was practically toothpicks in my eyes to stay awake. Chris says “Hang in there TJ.  We are doing well. We are going to beat the record. No doubt about it.”  Finish the 24 hours and behold did about a hundred and twelve interviews in 24 hours. Now we had to get certified and we had to get every single station to write saying we were definitely on. So that took the count down to about 94 but the bottom line is I got in the Guinness book of records for most talk show appearances ever.

It taught me a couple of things that if you want to speak a lot. You can but you have got to find a hook that satisfies other people’s goals and agendas. I was able to satisfy the needs of the reporters. You have got to somehow be a little more creative and go one step beyond the usual. The usual is just I have a book. Let me tell you the main tips in my book. In this case I figured it is a book about speaking. Why do not I actually demonstrate that I can speak well, under stress, under duress in an extreme way, by actually speaking more than anyone has ever spoken in the history of the world, on top radio shows.  That is what I did and that is what just made it a little. Shall we say? (gimmicky) but it worked and the book went on to become a major bestseller.

So why did I tell that story? I tell it for a couple of reasons I want people to realize if they are hiring me for media training.  Well your media trainer is not just one of these trainers who used to be a reporter on a local NBC affiliate and has not done any interviews in the last 15 years. I am someone who is constantly in the media, constantly being interviewed, someone who literally holds the record for most interviews in a 24-hour period at least a talk radio format. So I want to give people a sense that I am truly experienced and I have been able to do it under extreme situations even when extremely tired. So that is a part of the lesson. I also want people to think about how can they be creative come up with new hooks. So they can give their presentation to the world in a lot more media outlets by being more interesting to the media.

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