Media Secrets from a Publicity Guinness Record Setter

Jess Todtfeld was a TV producer on the national level at ABC, NBC, and FOX but always wanted to start his own business. So, with a wealth of industry know-how, he started a media training business. Jess helps train people on how to get media attention and then what to do with it once they get it! Jess says,  “the important thing is not that you go do this one interview one time” it’s about making sure you make the most of out if.  

Jess implores small business owners to find their call to action, which means figuring out “what do I need to say in the interview so that they’ll reach out and set up a phone conversation, an introductory or discovery call.” 

Credibility is King

Ramon points out that the goal of media attention and publicity is not to get a direct lead. You may find that an interview does lead to some leads, but the overarching goal of a press interview should be to establish credibility. 

The overarching goal of a press interview should be to establish credibility. 

Credibility can tighten the sales loop. People have heard about you, they’ve seen you on a national or local news outlet, they start to feel like they know you. Jess says by the time you get to that first sales conversation, “they feel like—'I’m talking to a star. I’m talking to Ramon Ray today, I’ve seen him on TV!’”

Jess emphasizes that it’s not publicity alone that will benefit your business. It’s this powerful combination of:

  • Visibility
  • Publicity
  • Credibility

Jess advises people who are going to do an interview to give something away for free. So that people can opt-in and you can convert interviews into leads. Take the interview and push it out in your email, social media, use an auto-posting service to extend the life of that interview. In this interview, he leads by example and incentivizes views to visit where they can access many of his “Top 10 Lists” for free. 

Don’t Discount the Little Guys

You don’t have to get an interview on a national media outlet like FOX or CNN to make publicity work for you. Jess says the same principles apply, it still works, you’re just talking to a very specific audience. This could be beneficial if you are selling your product or service to a niche market. 

The How to Get an Interview Checklist

  1. Create a list of media targets.
  2. Send an email out to everyone on your list.
  3. Play a long game and numbers game- be prepared to send out your email with frequency.
  4. Perfect your look, put some effort in. Make sure you're on brand and you've taken time to think about your branding. 
  5. You have to be able to format the email in a way that it’s easily digestible.
  6. Don’t Be Discouraged- You may send out an email and the person might not reply to you. It may not be because they don’t like you. Jess says people automatically assume that because the person they sent the email to didn’t reply it’s because they didn’t like the pitch. “Who knows how many people even opened it?” He asks, “Did you check your open rate?” Know if you even use the kind of software that can provide that data.

The Formula for a Great Pitch

In this example, we take a look at “Becky”.

“Becky” is in graphic arts and branding and considers herself a branding expert. She comes up with a great hook- “Why your personal brand will get you fired.” She puts that directly in her subject line. 

The perfect pitch should include:

  • Short intro
  • Headline
  • Subhead
  • Bullet points on what she will say in her potential interview

The media can now envision how an interview might go. Make it easy on them! If the journalist has to do all of the work, like finding your bio and headshot or come up with the flow of your entire interview, they probably won’t give you the interview because it means more work for them. 

Idea Fishing for Media Hooks

One of the toughest things when creating your pitch is coming up with the perfect headline or hook. Jess gives us a fantastic method to create a hook and it’s called idea fishing. The concept is relatively simple and so easy! Simply go to a news site for inspiration, Jess walks us through it on Take a look at the headlines. One example we see is “3 Tips for Building Courage and Resilience from a Navy SEAL.” Jess recommends taking that as an example and coming up with your own applicable headline. “What would your 3 tips be?” Jess says his might be something like, “3 Tips for Growing Your Business from a Guinness Record Setter for Publicity.” 

Try also searching in a subject outside of your own. Jess quickly searches for headlines in the estate planning industry. The top result is a headline from CNBC that reads, “Steer clear of the 8 biggest estate plan mistakes.” Maybe there is a week for your industry that you can leverage for a great headline. Ramon points out that this is such a great idea because big players like CNBC have spent hours perfecting these headlines. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, take what’s already been done and make it your own. 

The Biggest Media Mistakes to Avoid

No matter whether you’re interviewing with a major news outlet or a niche podcaster, Jess is intent that the biggest mistake you can make when seeking publicity is “not being clear about what you want to make happen as a result of the interview before you go in and not having an authentic call to action.” You don’t have to outright promote your business. Don’t worry about getting a plug in for your book. A good host will promote you. Focus instead on the value you can provide to the audience and on communicating what problems you’re solving, the solutions you’re giving, and the pains you’re helping people avoid.

Get even more media secrets from Jess Todtfeld at the Smart Hustle Growth Conference on October 25, 2019. For customized publicity solutions, reach out to Jess with all of your TV, radio, print, and social media publicity questions by visiting


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