Episode 167: TeeJ Mercer – The Art of Newsjacking and Showing Up with SPUNK in Media Interviews
TeeJ Mercer joins the Social Sales Link team to give us the inside scoop on the biggest secret to getting booked in the media. If you’re a thought leader, book author, coach, or sales professional whose clientele are C-Suit executives, being featured in renowned media outlets adds instant credibility to your personal brand, and knowing how to sell your expertise to producers of these big shows and websites is a must.
TeeJ Mercer has spent nearly 30 years as a TV editor and producer in Hollywood. She’s the Chief Noisemaker and CEO of Media Mavericks Academy and teaches authors, experts, speakers, and entrepreneurs how to book themselves on outlets like ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC without a publicist and without being a celebrity. Yes, you read right. Mercer has worked on several shows and movies, which may even be one of your favorites. Tune in on this episode to learn how to leverage Newsjacking and what it means to show up to talk the walk.
Visit TeeJ Mercer website and don’t forget to connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter.
TeeJ Mercer 00:00
For me making sales social, it’s just me being able to be out there to love on people to show them what’s possible for them. When they think about their dreams of how they want to be on ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox, I like to approach them from a human being perspective.
Bob Woods 00:20
Welcome to the Making Sales Social Podcast! Featuring the top voices in sales, marketing and business. Join Brynne Tillman and me, Bob Woods as we each bring you the best tips and strategies our guests are teaching their clients so you can leverage them for your own virtual and social selling. Enjoy the show.
Brynne Tillman 00:45
Welcome back to Making Sales Social! I’m so so excited about TeeJ Mercer, our guest today, using nearly 30 years in Hollywood as a TV editor and producer. TeeJ was the chief noisemaker of media Mavericks Academy shows authors, experts, speakers and entrepreneurs how to book themselves on outlets like ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and more without a publicist and without being a celebrity. Yes, you can show up on these sites you can have a presence having worked on like the tonight show the bachelor rule got some questions around that off screen. Swamp people Shrek, The Incredibles, my favorite Disney movie of all times, cars and more.
TeeJ is the secret weapon you need to go from the shadows into the spotlight and claim the media authority and credibility you need. Well, TeeJ, I am so excited, both for my audience and for me personally, welcome to the show!
TeeJ Mercer 01:51
Thank you, Brynne! I am so excited to come play with you today.
Brynne Tillman 01:56
We’re gonna have some fun, you know, it’s so interesting to me that, you know, when I see speakers, or even a LinkedIn profile that shows that they’ve, you know, been on ABC or CBS or NBC, like, immediately there’s this level of credibility that they get. And so I am really, really excited to talk to you about how people can do that and I know you’re gonna give us some gems but before we jump into that we ask all of our guests the same question. What does making sales social mean to you?
TeeJ Mercer 02:32
Well, I am a social butterfly and I’m an extrovert with introvert tendencies every once in a while. And so for me making sales social, it’s just me being able to be out there, to love on people to show them what’s possible for them when they think about their dreams of how they want to be on ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox, I like to approach them from a human being perspective. I know I have worked on some of the top, you know, TV shows, films or what have you. But they’re always people behind it. And so many times I find that people put like over producers on a pedestal and at the time of this taping, one of my besties’ shows just got renewed Sherri Shepherd, her show just got renewed. So I woke up to that news this morning.
Brynne Tillman 03:24
I love her. Oh, she is hysterical
TeeJ Mercer 03:30
I have to tell her, yes, we are super super super excited. I spent premiere week with her as the show was taken off and the felt, okay, we got off track. But what I’m saying is, like being behind the scenes of this, a lot of people forget that we have problems, we go through divorce, we you know, have sick kids, we you know, losing jobs or what have you. So for me when I’m being social, I’m hopefully making sure people understand that producers are people too.
Brynne Tillman 04:07
Ah, that’s a good line right there. I love that. So let’s go back to really bring some value to folks that are thinking man, you know, I want that credibility. I want to be seen as that expert, especially in a lot of our audience, their authors, their coaches, their course, developers, and some are sales professionals that just really want to stand out as an expert in their industry. So how can the media help someone get more exposure for that book, that course or even just to elevate their personal brand?
TeeJ Mercer 04:48
Where else can you go to get potentially millions of eyeballs on you and your genius and it doesn’t cost you anything? Yeah, that’s media, that’s absolutely media, it’s a one shot, major exposure. And the next level to that is if you are a speaker or an expert, that presenter or what have you, when you’re thinking about the fact that you can do this one spot, and ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CW has put their name behind you, then that up your respectability, your credibility, your authority, when you are presenting yourself to be a speaker at a conference, or what have you, you come in with all these media credentials, right? And so as a result of that, you get more ching ching in your bank account too.
Brynne Tillman 05:43
Yeah, that’s amazing. And so you said free. So now I have heard things like Forbes, for example, you can pay to get into Forbes but talk to me about the free side of media. Now, I’m going to put a caveat in there, nothing is really free, you’re probably going to invest a lot of time and a lot of resources, or get some help from someone who invests the time and resources but what does it look like? going out and getting a guest spot? Or like where does someone start to even dream?
TeeJ Mercer 06:15
So I like that question. And it’s what I’ve built, you know, my program medium Mavericks Masters under, it’s when you are actually pitching producers, yourself, you do not need a publicist to actually pitch producers. If you have a great segment idea, if you’ve got the expertise to back up that you are capable of speaking on this particular topic, you really can pitch them yourself. And you know, especially when you’re looking at like the local, ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox, across the country, they’re hungry for stories you got an ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox in every city across America. That means there’s hours of programming to fill, you can absolutely pitch yourself. And here’s what’s one of the upsides to the pandemic because before the pandemic Brynne, the producers, the shows want you in studio, so a lot of my clients will be flying from city to city to actually and they’ve booked themselves and they they’re flying to the city to be in the studio.
However, because of the pandemic, the news didn’t stop. And so now you’re on Zoom doing interviews, and they still have not gone back to being completely in person. So you really can be sitting in New Jersey doing an interview in Los Angeles. Exactly. So you’re still getting the credibility and now the preference, obviously, for visual purposes, and you want to use it for your sizzle reels and things like that. You want to be in the studio but if you’re just looking for the authority, you can be pitching across the country because they’re still open to virtual interviews.
Brynne Tillman 08:08
Wow. I mean, that’s a huge opportunity. So you’re not really limited to your local markets.
TeeJ Mercer 08:15
Absolutely not. That’s the key thing that I teach all of my Media Mavericks that no and more importantly, I would add this Brynne, that if you’ve never done television, I don’t want you in the big market. So New York is number one, LA’s to Chicago’s three Phillies for Dallas is five, and so on, and so on and so on, and not as a ranking but just as a side. Keep in mind that Good Morning America, like an ABC show, the ABC affiliates that Good Morning America is watching the ABC affiliates and they’re watching the top larger markets so you don’t want to ask if you’ve never done TV, you don’t want to go into these larger markets because you don’t want to make mistakes in these larger markets.
You want to go into a market like Albuquerque, New Mexico, Palm Springs, a beautiful city. Yes, it’s absolutely beautiful. I’ve done an NBC segment for them. And so you want to go into those cities because you’re getting the expertise and the experience but you’re also doing what I call go for the logos, you’re earning those logos as well. So it’s a dual purpose. Now on the flip side of that, if they call you, you know if at ABC New York calls you you don’t turn them down, you get them TJ in your life and let her help you coat and get ready for the segment but it’s really tough bring a talk in three to five minutes sound bites, and that’s what you have to do because not three to five minute sound like a segment is three to five minutes so you don’t have time to dilly dally,
Brynne Tillman 09:57
right? You’ve got to bring your best fast. and you have to be able to answer those questions on the fly. You don’t get to think so.
TeeJ Mercer 10:08
Well, it’s not that you don’t get to think and I want to make sure that people understand that anytime that any of my clients booked themselves, they send suggested questions. Brynne, did I not send you suggested questions? Yes, you practice what you teach because here’s the thing, Brynne, you don’t know my brand, like I do. You don’t know the ins and outs of my brand. So I’m not going to if I want to make sure I serve your audience, I give you suggested questions.
Now you know, your audience. So the decision is, the final decision is up to you but I often have had clients that they send the suggested questions and the producer, the host, just goes right down that list and they practice. You sound effortless, take effort. So you’re going to practice what you’re going to say but none of my clients are allowed to just wing an interview, they send suggested questions. Now they’re prepared. They’re, they’re experts. So if they go, you know, if the host goes off script, that’s fine but for the most part, I would say, say 85% of the time, their producers stick to the script of the suggested questions.
Brynne Tillman 11:23
Okay. So that’s a mic drop moment for anyone, whether it’s a podcast or ABC, NBC, right, CBS. That’s brilliant. Guys, listen to that. You’ve got to be prepared and you have to help the interviewer with the right questions. I love this.
TeeJ Mercer 11:43
That makes them wealthy and not wealthy but that makes them a welcomed guest because the producer doesn’t have to work hard. Like my clients get invited back, because basically because I am a producer, I show them how to produce the segment for the producer. So it always ends up where, what else you got, when did you want to come back?
Brynne Tillman 12:03
They’ve made their job easier?
TeeJ Mercer 12:06
Yeah, you’ve made their job easier. And they don’t have to form it. They don’t have to do a whole bunch of research or try to figure out what the questions are, because you’ve handed it to them on a silver platter.
Brynne Tillman 12:17
Oh my gosh, I’m loving this. Okay, so number six, on your list of questions is my next one. Can you share a few secrets about getting booked in the media.
TeeJ Mercer 12:30
Yes, so one of the biggest secrets, I’m not gonna just share a few I’m gonna give you the biggest Oh, it’s called news jacking. And news jacking is the art of inserting your brand, your expertise, your knowledge into the media based on hijacking a current event, a breaking news story, a trend. So for example, what just happened recently with the NFL and the football player who had to have a heart attack, right, the heart attack of last Daren like I can’t think of his first name. So if you’re an expert in these kinds of injuries, you should be pitching your ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox and explaining and pitchin, I’d like to come on and explain what’s really happening. I would like to explain or answer questions for your viewers on, you know, the kind of injury he had.
News jacking is when you even take on a social media trend. So for example, a few years ago, the one that came to mind immediately, is when we found out the aging app that was going around on Facebook where people were, you know, aging themselves and you can see what you look like at 80 or 90 years old. They were aging themselves and we found out that the app was owned by a Russian company. Well, I sent out a news Jack alert and suggested to my social media experts to my cybersecurity experts, even to my parents and experts. “Hey, somebody needs to make a pitch around what parents can do to protect their kids from apps that could harm them.” Like what parental controls need to be engaged on these apps.
In less than 24 hours one of my experts got booked. And it has happened in less than and less than 24 hours you can be sitting on TV you remember the slap heard around the world where Will Smith slapped Chris Rock that night of the Oscars. I went live afterwards and just started, you know, given out different news Jack newsjacking angles for my clients, and one of them who would pitch CBS before now ever got a call back or emailed back, she pitched them an angle that I suggested she is a psychologist, I believe. And for the first time she got a call back and she was sitting and doing a CBS interview from her living room the very next day. That is the power of newsjacking.
Brynne Tillman 15:18
That’s amazing. Do you recommend that people put Google Alerts out or that they’re waiting for topics to hit?
TeeJ Mercer 15:26
Absolutely, you want to keep your, you want to keep your nose to the ground of sniffing out a story. And one way to do that is a Google Alert around your you know, lane of expertise. However, when it comes to news jacking, you may have to get a little creative with it, you know, so it may not be directly in your lane of expertise. So for example, one of my clients, she was one of my VIP clients. So I booked her for this. She is a hair loss expert, right? And when Black Panther the first black panther came out, you remember the ball hit, you know, warriors, there was a scene in Black Panther where they put on wigs to go in and do the fights, they put on wigs to blend in into the casino.
So that the Europeans would know that these were the Wakanda warriors. However, when the fight broke out, they ripped their wigs off and put it down. So on her behalf, I sent out a pitch that said what kind of warriors are ripping their wigs off by choice, but 46 million women have to wear wigs by force. Oh my God, that’s a thrilling. One pitch brand got her ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox and four different markets that one pitch. So yes, Google Alerts work but you still have to be looking for creative ways to attach yourself to a trend.
Brynne Tillman 16:58
TeeJYou are brilliant. This is so exciting. I really ask and you know, I want to ask a couple of quick more questions, even though we’re over our normal timeframe here because there’s a few things that I really want to know: what are some do’s and don’ts to getting publicity for my brand?
TeeJ Mercer 17:19
Okay, so one of the biggest don’ts is do not think of the media as you going on and promoting no producers just gonna hand over their platform to you without them thinking about but how does this serve my audience? So I like to frame it around? What’s in it for them? Do not be tuned into the channel WIFM? What’s in it for me? Tune in to WIFTV,TL,TR –what’s in it for the viewer? What’s in it for the listener? What’s in it for the reader? So when you’re coming from a perspective of, you know, you want to get exposure for your book, but what problem does your book solve?
So never approach a producer with hey, I want to come on and promote my latest book. No, they are not interested in that but hey, I want to tell you the four keys to surviving a traumatic experience, especially after something has just happened in the media, you know, something tragic has happened. You want to and then you happen to be the author of this grief book. So you definitely want to make sure that you do go in with a surf perspective. Another thing that comes to mind is you want to go in having a strategy, meaning I know and Brynne will attest to this Brynne, I asked you one specific question before we went live, I said to you, Brynne, what do you want your audience to know as a result? Oh, that was awesome.
So in my head, I need to make sure I serve Brynne’s audience, it doesn’t matter, you know that I have one agenda. I’m there to serve. So you make sure you’re going in with a strategy to communicate what it is the audience needs to know but also bringing the audience back to you so you can continue to serve them. And then the last thing I would say as a doing don’t, is don’t think of it as the interview. Think of it as a conversation and because if you think of it as an interview, especially when you’re on one of these bigger platforms, where millions of people tuned in to ABC that morning, it may freak you out that “Oh my god.” but if I’m thinking oh, I’m just gonna go have a conversation with my girlfriend and all these millions of people get to eavesdrop but I’m just here talking to her and answering her questions. That shifts the focus from you, being out in your head and thinking about the millions of people to just be sent with Brynne
Brynne Tillman 20:00
I love this. I mean, this is so powerful. Okay, so the last thing I’m going to ask before the last thing, which is how can people work with you? That is the most important thing but before one last question, how do people crush these conversations, these interviews? How do they go out and like, do so well that they get asked to be on lots of other things.
TeeJ Mercer 20:22
One word, you show up with SPUNK , SPUNK , and SPUNK is an acronym. So I’ll break it down for you, you want to show up making sure you have a “S” and my mind just went totally blank. But you want to show up knowing you will serve the audience, right? And we talked about that. “P” You want to show up prepared, not prepared in the sense of making sure you look cute, but prepared in the sense that you have practice and practice and practice your your sound bites of speaking and sound bites over and over and over again, “U” you want to go in with an understanding that this is not a monologue. I’m here to converse with Brynne. I’m here with the understand, this is her show, I am a guest and I need to serve her audience. And then “N” nuggets of your expertise, you don’t have the time to give it all. So you have to speak in sound bites with your nuggets of expertise. And SPUNK is a nugget of expertise and then K shows up knowing you earned it. I don’t care if you pitch them or they pitch to you. You still show it up knowing that you earned the right to be there. You have earned your expertise, whether it has been through education or life experience. And so you show up and fullness of who you are.
Brynne Tillman 21:54
There are more nuggets in this. There’s more SPUNK in this interview than you know. I mean, I’m sure the listeners right now are blown. So before I asked you the last question, Mr. Hamlin came to my brain as the gentleman who had voted on I had to just because I just had…
TeeJ Mercer 22:16
I just couldn’t think of the first name.
Brynne Tillman 22:18
Yeah, tomorrow I’m on anyway. And he’s doing fine. So I’m thrilled. Okay, for everyone listening, I mean, everyone listening that wants media exposure, you need to at least follow TeeJ. If not, take one of her classes. Talk to me a little bit about how people can work with you. And next steps to connect with you.
TeeJ Mercer 22:41
Actually, I walk when I teach. So I serve. So if you go over to newsjackvat.com It will give you the opportunity to download my free guide on breaking down news jacking to the enth degree so that you know you have a better understanding because I don’t have time to give it all because I’m only given nuggets of expertise now but you can go over to news Jack that.com and download it and you can just take off from there.
Brynne Tillman 23:11
Wonderful. TeeJ. I had so much fun. This was selfishly, one of my favorite interviews, because my mind is going so after the show, send me some information on your course because I think we could use it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You are fabulous and have so much fabulous SPUNK.
TeeJ Mercer 23:35
Thanks for having me, Brynne.
Brynne Tillman 23:37
Oh my pleasure. So for everyone listening when you are out and about don’t forget to make your sales social.
Bob Woods 23:47
Thanks for listening, and join us again for more special guest instructors bringing you marketing, sales training, and social selling strategies that will set you apart. Don’t forget to subscribe to get the latest episodes from the Making Sales Social podcast. Leave a review down below, tell us what you think, what you learned and what you want to hear from us next.
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