Our purpose with this series is to educate readers on how to more effectively pitch reporters and garner media hits.
We hope you find this series useful. Please leave any comments or questions below!
In this HLS, we interviewed Dan Nainan, a New York-based professional comedian who tours the world doing clean comedy.
1. Please give the BloggingPRWeb readers a little background information about yourself/your business.
I’m a New York-based professional comedian who tours the world doing clean comedy. Last year alone I performed in 15 countries. A few months ago I performed for President Obama, and I’ve also performed for Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Steve Wozniak and many others. I’ve also performed at two Democratic National Conventions and at a TED conference. Acting is another interest of mine, and I have been in a “Get a Mac” commercial for Apple. I also do character voices such as Bill Clinton on radio stations around the country.
Prior to comedy, I was a senior engineer with Intel Corporation. My job was to travel the world with Chairman Andy Grove, doing technical demonstrations on stage at events, and I was incredibly nervous about speaking on stage. I took a comedy class to get over the fear, and the comedy kind of took off from there.
2. How did you first hear about HARO and why did you decide to sign up?
I heard about HARO from a friend, and I have to tell you, I owe him my life! Truthfully, I decided to sign up because I had gotten a bit disillusioned about the value proposition provided by publicists who charge a monthly retainer of $2,000 or more. I paid a publicist in Los Angeles $500 per month, and although I got invited to some wonderful parties, I got absolutely no press placements – not a good use of my hard earned greenbacks.
3. How has HARO changed the way you market yourself/your business?
We had a saying at Intel – “Better, Faster, Cheaper”. I’ve always been a proponent of technology and efficiency, and the way that HARO works is just so amazingly optimal. Instead of publicists having to pitch writers on their clients, it’s a completely backwards and yet much more efficient approach. And the best part is that it’s absolutely free! I wish I had thought of it.
4. How many times have you secured media placements through HARO?
I have gotten over 100 media placements, large and small, through HARO. I’ve been in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the New York Post, Fox News, Reuters, Condé Nast Portfolio, CNN, Fortune, Subaru Drive Magazine (on the cover), NPR, even Glamour Magazine! I’ve also been interviewed twice on the Dylan Ratigan show on MSNBC – once from the floor of CES Las Vegas, and once in the studio at 30 Rock. HARO has been incredibly helpful for me.
5. If you have garnered more than one hit, which was your favorite and why?
My favorite placement was in Crain’s New York. A financier read about me and hired me to perform at his 45th wedding anniversary at the Donald Trump golf course in Palm Beach, Florida. The anniversary party was held in one of the banquet rooms at the opulent clubhouse, and at the same time, there was a huge party going on in one of the other rooms. Outside, on the deck behind the clubhouse was the most magnificent feast imaginable. Filet mignon, lobster, lamb chops – in other words, a vegetarian’s nightmare.
While wolfing down a cornucopia of food, I saw the Donald himself walking around and talking to everybody. He was saying over and over, “Isn’t this great? Isn’t this great?” I walked up to Mr. Trump and introduced myself as a comedian performing for his client’s anniversary party. I asked him if he could come and watch my show in the smaller room. Mr. Trump said that he would try, but that he had his Christmas party going on in the big room, so he wasn’t certain.
About 10 minutes into my performance, I was shocked to see Mr. Trump and his date enter the room and sit down in the back. I was terrified, but tried not to show it. Of course, most comedians would’ve mentioned Mr. and Mrs. Trump, and would more than likely have tried to publicly pick on them, but as this is not my style, I didn’t mention them at all, not wanting to embarrass them. I was quite pleased to see that Mr. Trump and his date were laughing uproariously at my jokes. Afterwards, Mr. Trump posed for a picture with me and said, “Nice job”. Unfortunately, he didn’t say the words I was waiting for – “You’re hired!”.
Another completely different, yet highly impactful placement was getting my book deal through HARO. A publisher was seeking interesting book ideas, and I pitched them and sure enough, they took care of everything, including getting the book up on Amazon. Although it’s certainly not a bestseller, it is selling surprisingly well, and not only do I have the credibility of being a published author, I now have books to sell after my events as well.
These are just two examples of how HARO has literally changed my life.
6. From your experience with getting media placements, what are some tips/pointers you can give people looking to pitch themselves or their businesses to the media?
I think it’s really important to pitch the reporters as soon as possible. Sometimes I’ll be late responding and get a note from the reporter that although my pitch was ideal, they had already gotten so many sources who were perfect for their article. I also think it’s important to be brief. My rule of thumb is never have more than one screen of information, so that there’s no need for them to scroll down. Some people try to limit themselves to one page, but that’s two screens’ worth. Of course it’s self-evident that you have to have a dynamite subject line. I don’t think many reporters can resist “Senior Intel Engineer Turned World Traveling Comedian, Performed for Obama”.
As an aside, it is really astounding to me that more people don’t use the service. I told a fellow comedian in Las Vegas about it, and she said that she had already tried HARO, but that it was too time-consuming to open the emails and read them. I’m thinking, five minutes, three times a day is too much time, considering all the magnificent opportunities that can potentially arise from HARO? She also did say that she had gotten too consumed with the situation in the Balkans and was spending all of her spare time obsessing about that. That absolutely blew my mind. I guess one has to choose one’s priorities in life.
7. What are some no-nos when pitching the media?
I would definitely stay away from pitching off topic. I’ve had a few reporters tell me that happens quite frequently. I can only imagine what it must be like to be a reporter under deadline and to be barraged by a plethora of unrelated pitches – it must truly be infuriating. So I would strongly discourage anybody from pitching off topic.
If you’d like to be featured in the HARO Limelight series as a member of the media or a source, email: laura(at)helpareporter(dot)com.