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The Back Door Plan

Posted Feb 10 2009 10:56am

I've always been a back door kind of person. When I wasn't admitted into the graduate journalism program I had set my sights on, I enrolled in another program and within a semester, I back doored it into the department. When I didn't get a job at a major television network right out of school, I took jobs at smaller PR agencies that handled several talk shows and within a few years, back doored it into the ultimate job as a primetime entertainment publicist at CBS. And when I couldn't get a talk show producer to book a client or an actor from one of my shows on their morning show, I found another one who would take my calls, express some interest and the next thing I knew, I back doored it into a booking. I even back doored it into a book deal - after self publishing Peeing in Peace, we sold several thousand copies to Borders and with the help of a fabulous agent landed a book deal with Sourcebooks and most recently sold the rights to Brazil!

So how do you use the Back Door Plan to your advantage? Well, it's not for the faint of heart. You are going to have to work harder then ever but just think of the gratification you'll feel knowing that you didn't give up and found someone who was willing to listen to your pitch. And when using the back door, you not only have to be persistent but you have to be humble too. Thank the person who let you in and perhaps see if they have a few minutes to spare so you can meet them in person or speak with them on the phone. Do not rely on email because it is way too easy for someone to ignore you that way - especially if they've never met you before.

If a back door contact doesn't give you the time of day, then move on quickly, ask a few friends or colleagues if they have another person to recommend and go after that lead. Or, find them through Linked In, Facebook and of course use Twitter to send a direct message to that contact who might open the door and let you in. Another secret...I happen to be connected to lots of producers and reporters, so "Link In" to me (Rolemommy or BeyondPR) and then you at least have 1 degree of separation to your potential contact! If it's a journalist you want to reach, then make sure you've read their work, comment on their article or share why you're a big fan or theirs and then ask them their advice about your situation. What's the worst that can happen? They could ignore you and not write back or they could be flattered that you reached out to them in an unconventional way.

What I've learned in my experience is that the more I kept the pressure on with regard to my clients, eventually, my back door contact would come through with flying colors and book them on their show. What I've also learned is that patience truly is a virtue - I don't have much of it, but have been forced to wait patiently for producers to get back to me and sometimes, after I've armed them with all the materials they needed on my client, when they finally had a topic that made sense, we finally secured a booking. It took a while but it happened...and once my clients met the producer and wowed the host, they were asked back time and time again. That's the key to true success - if you sneak in through the back door and they ask you to keep coming back, then you have hit paydirt.

A word of caution - if you hate rejection or if you're the type who has always had things come easy to you in life (I am not friends with any of those women), then the Back Door Plan might be a difficult pill to swallow. But trust me, it works. And if you manage to land a major media appearance and it leads to increased product or book sales or boosts major traffic to your website or blog, then getting what you want by going through the back door isn't half bad.

Have you ever back doored yourself into a job or opportunity? Share your story with Role Mommy - something tells me there's a lot of us back door achievers out there and I'd love to hear how you did it too!

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