Former TV presenter, Alan Stevens, is now an author and journalist, and runs his own business How did you get into the Media business?
I was working for Which? magazine over 30 years ago, and wrote reports on technology, which required me to appear on TV and radio to discuss the findings. I had a flair for media work, and found myself spending more and more time in studios. It became a major part of my job, and I developed strong relationships with many journalists that last to this day.
You have a wealth of experience with TV, Radio, Books and Public Speaking – do you have a preference and if so why?
My favourite activity is speaking on stage to a large audience. It’s partly ego-driven, I’m sure, but it’s also creating a shared experience that everyone can (hopefully) enjoy and learn from. There’s nothing like the buzz that you get from working “live”. Fortunately, many people would rather do anything than go on stage, so there’s not too much competition!
Do you have any role models?
Yes. My role model is the late journalist Alistair Cooke. He wrote originally for the Manchester Guardian, and then moved to New York, where he wrote and broadcast a weekly 15-minute show called “Letter from America” for over 50 years, helping to explain America and its culture to the UK. I first listened to the show when I was nine years old, and rarely missed an episode. I was lucky enough to meet him a few times and once asked him what advice he could offer to me, a young journalist. He said “Never miss a deadline, never waste a word”.
Which media works best for your business?
I’m a great advocate of using a mix of media, even to reach the same market. For my business, providing reputation advice to large organisations and high-profile individuals, the best medium is the oldest – word of mouth recommendation.
You have a great presence on Twitter – how do you find the time? Do you use any other Social Media?
I use Twitter a lot, but only for around 30 minutes a day. The exceptions would be when I’m two-screening, such as watching BBC Question Time or a sporting event. The other social networks I use are Facebook and LinkedIn, with the former being much more important for business than it used to be.
Related: Reasons To Be Cheerful. Just Tweet!
I see you offer free PR tips and media advice sometimes on Twitter when you are just stopping for a coffee somewhere. Would you recommend this to attract paying clients?
I see my offer of free PR advice on Twitter as just being helpful. It’s not designed to attract paying clients, but simply to share tips and advice. Of course, it’s all part of an overall strategy to be seen in as many media outlets as possible, which I believe is the whole point of PR. I really am just happy to help.
You have an office in USA as well as London – do you see a difference between the requirements for media coaching in the two countries?
I see very little difference in media coaching anywhere in the world. It’s all about delivering the right message at the right time to the right audience. There are some slight cultural differences between the US and the UK. For example, things tend to be taken a bit more literally in the US, so interviewees need to be careful about using deadpan humour (or humor) for example. But 99% is the same.
What has been the biggest lesson you have learned in creating and growing your business?
The biggest lesson I have learned is to stick to what you do well. Too many people try to offer a broad range of services, and find it hard to get clients. I’m a specialist in broadcast and online media communication. That’s it. I’ve stuck with the same brand – MediaCoach – for over ten years since I started my own company. I’ve produced an email newsletter very Friday for those ten years. I walk my talk, and I have happy clients. It’s as simple as that.
I recommend following Alan (@MediaCoach) on Twitter and also signing up to his interesting and helpful weekly newsletter. You will find lots of useful PR tips plus see the generosity of the man himself. I’m sure he’ll be happy to answer questions on the comments here too.