Develop Your Hook for Better Publicity

By Pam Lontos

The key to a better publicity campaign is more articles, more quotes, and more interviews. For maximum effectiveness, you need to get yourself into as many publications and on as many shows as possible. But every show and every publication is different. So how can one person with one keynote attract the attention of several media outlets? The answer is simple: a great hook.

Essentially, your hook is like a headline that makes someone want to read the whole story. It sparks an interest in the media outlet and influences them to publish or air your message to their audience. When push comes to shove, reporters and producers don’t care about your speaking profession. They are only interested in how you can make their publication or show more appealing to their audience. Therefore, your hook should address the needs of a particular media outlet’s readers or viewers. And each outlet you pitch should get its own unique hook congruent with its unique audience.

Adaptation is the foundation for creating your hook. Use these tips to develop your unique hook with each magazine, newspaper, and show you approach to get more interviews and more articles published:

Why Are You Different?

Even though your topic may be personal investing, or life planning, or some other narrow field, chances are you know about a variety of other things. To get more press, you have to cover a broader range. What are your hobbies? Where did you grow up? How are you different from all the other speakers? You participate in hundreds of different conversations with hundreds of different people about hundreds of different topics, and your input is valuable because of your specialization. You offer a unique perspective because of your background, so use this to your advantage as you develop a hook.

Sometimes, you must make small changes in your approach. For example, suppose you’re speaking topic is about taking time off work for relaxation. Everyone needs relaxation, whether they’re at home or at work, so you can adapt this topic to fit almost anywhere. But the key is to adapt it for the publication. In your campaign, say you pitch several industry and trade publications with an article you’ve written around your subject, entitled “Take Six Months Off.” If no one bites with that hook, consider a different angle. Maybe they don’t want people in a work environment reading about vacations. Perhaps “Prevent Employee Burnout” would be a more suitable title for the publication’s needs. The article could be the same, just a different headline.

If something isn’t working for you, keep an open mind and consider a different approach. When you talk with your media contacts or pitch your article ideas, adapt and expand your topic to fit their current needs and you’ll increase your exposure.

Consider the Audience

Media professionals are only concerned with one thing: ratings. They want people to buy their magazine or tune in to their show. And before they run your article, or interview you, they want to be sure you’ll get attention. When you’re pitching to the media, whether it is radio, print, or television, you must think about what interests their audience, not about yourself. Imagine their perspectives and base your hook on their needs. Think about what the readers of this magazine or the viewers of this show want to know. Why are they reading or watching in the first place? What problems do they have and how can you solve them?

Keep in mind that the same people read different publications for different reasons. For example, the CEO of a major corporation may read Fast Company and The Wall Street Journal at work on a regular basis to keep up with the latest economic trends. But at home, this CEO is a mother of two young children, so she also reads Family Circle for useable information about family health and easy recipes. Every night before bed, she likes to relax and read for entertainment, fashion ideas, and beauty tips. Therefore, she also subscribes to Vogue. This woman reads a variety of publications for a variety of different reasons. So as you adapt your topic for a specific publication, think about who reads it and why.

Make a list of all the publications you’d like to pitch, and then think about the types of headlines you see on the covers. How can you make your topic fit within the interests of their readers? Next, brainstorm ideas for each publication. For example, suppose your keynote addresses hormone imbalances, stress levels, and chronic fatigue. Consider the following pitches:

Woman’s World: How Stress Experts De-stress

Self Magazine: Staying Healthy During Stressful Times

Parents Magazine: When to Call a Doctor, Warning Signs for Kids

Wall Street Journal: Reduce Stress at Work, Diet & Exercise Tips

Ladies Home Journal: Tired All the Time? It Could Be Chronic Stress/Fatigue

Real Simple Magazine: One-Month Health Make-Over

These different hooks are all on the topic of stress; they are simply adjusted to fit the needs of each specific publication. The hooks address the audience directly and give them a reason for buying the magazine or watching the show.

Keep with the Times

The final aspect of a winning hook is newsworthiness. Media outlets love to have timely information linked to current events and trends. Exciting things happen every day all over the world: new products fill the market, technology advances, research draws conclusions, and people make things happen. Start a habit of reading the newspaper and watching the news regularly, and then adapt your ideas to the most cutting-edge information.

For example, suppose you speak to groups about circulatory health. Well, low-carb foods have been all over the news for some time, and a research team just discovered a link between heart attacks and individuals who cut complex carbohydrates from their diets. Using your background in health, what does this mean for low-carb dieters? How does this new report affect the public? As an expert, you can answer these questions, so use this to your advantage. Mention the new research in your hook. Always know what’s happening in the world, because if you can provide your unique take on a current event, the media will take notice.

Another excellent resource that gives you an edge with the media is Chase’s Calendar of Events. This book is published annually and lists scheduled events for every day of the year. For example, did you know that November 18th is Mickey Mouse’s birthday, Prematurity Awareness Day, the Great American Smokeout, and Married to a Scorpio Support Day? Each day of the year has a list, so with a little creativity, you’re bound to find something you can use. With a copy of Chase’s on your shelf, you’ll know what’s happening beforehand and you can develop your hook around an event. When you use these listings or adapt to other events in the news, you make your hook more appealing to the media.

Hook Your Way to Success

If you want to catch a fish, you have to use the right hook. Apply this same concept to your publicity campaign and develop a winning hook for each media outlet you approach. Expand your topic to appeal to more publications and more shows. With each outlet, adapt your hook to consider the audience’s needs, because that’s who the reporters and producers aim to please. Then link your topic to a current event to make it newsworthy. When you use these guidelines and create a winning hook, you will get more interviews, more articles published, and more publicity for your speaking career.

Publicity Book by Pam LontosPam Lontos is president of PR/PR, a public relations firm based in Orlando, Florida. She is author of I See Your Name Everywhere and is a former vice president of sales for Disney’s Shamrock Broadcasting. PR/PR has placed clients in publications such as USA Today, Entrepreneur, Time, Reader’s Digest, and Cosmopolitan. PR/PR works with established businesses, as well as entrepreneurs who are just launching their company. For a free publicity consultation, e-mail or call 407-299-6128. To receive free publicity tips, go to and register for the monthly e-newsletter, PR/PR Pulse!