Click here if you can’t view this video of Mark Schaefer’s appearance on CBS This Morning.
In addition to providing useful marketing ideas and insights, I’ve also used this blog to document the ups and downs of my personal social media journey. This week marked an important milestone as I appeared on a network news show for the first time and a lot of people have been interested in how this happened. Since this was such an unusual experience I thought I would report on this step on my journey, my 210 seconds of fame.
I am very fortunate that my new book Return On Influence has caught fire and attracted the attention of many media outlets. I have been doing 3-4 interviews every day. But I was pretty shocked when ace McGraw Hill publicist Pamela Peterson called me last week to say that CBS (a national U.S. TV network) wanted to book me for their morning news show.
It made me a little dizzy frankly. There is nobody you will ever meet who dislikes being in the spotlight more than me. I know that it seems weird to be a shy blogger but it’s the truth. I’m OK with doing print and even radio interviews but I’m not a TV guy. Especially a live TV guy. I had more than one thought of just declining this amazing opportunity as …
Anxiety sets in
Anxiety? Ha! Actually I was terrified of the prospect of being on live national television. But I also recognized that a lot of people were counting on me and I had to find a way to establish some mental toughness and get through this with style. I needed to re-frame this experience as “fun” and an opportunity to see the inner workings of a network news show. I also tried to put the anxiety of the experience in context. So many people had a legitimate reason for fear — facing death, suffering, personal tragedy. All I had to do was talk for four minutes. I had no right to be fearful, did I? With this mindset, I was able to approach the task calmly but who knows what would happen the day of the show?
The CBS assistant producer called me a few days ahead of time and talked over potential discussion points. Although I had no idea what questions would be asked, I was pretty sure I would need to explain the premise of the book. I rehearsed a little introduction, knowing that if I could get through that first question I would be able to relax a little on the set.
I also watched segments of the show to try to get a feel for the personalities of the anchors. CBS This Morning is a straight news show. Not much joking around or “cooking” segments! And the format was strange and intimidating. No comfy couches and coffee cups, The three anchors sat facing the guest like a firing squad.
The day of the show
A driver picked me up at 7:15 a..m. and took me uptown to the CBS studio. I was shuttled into a room where I had make-up applied and my suit was steamed.
The “green room” was behind a large glass wall directly on the set. The upcoming guests literally are watching the proceedings 10 feet away from the anchors. Pretty cool. It provided the illusion that you were right in the middle of the set.
There was just one small place to wait and it was pretty crowded with people involved in the show, producers prepping the guests and people just stopping by for a free bagel.
I was surprised when the lovely and talented Gayle King, one of the anchors, came to see me at a break. She was carrying my book, dog-eared and filled with pink post-it notes. “I’ve been looking forward to meeting you!” she said. “I’m crazy about your book!” Now that was a good start. And she really had read the thing over the weekend and had lots of good questions about it. I was impressed that she had done her homework so thoroughly.
First up on the show was New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who was going on just as I arrived. She was so knowledgeable and poised. Yikes.
A well-known actor sat down beside me on the couch in the green room. I texted my wife: “Sitting next to the guy who played the gay guy on that show.” I’m not good at these things.
Turns out it was Eric McCormack who played “Will” on the famous Will and Grace TV show, He was a very nice and accessible person. I taught him about Twitter and he told me about his new Broadway play, “The Best Man.” Great. I was going to be following a funny, handsome, charming actor.
Up until this moment, I had not told anybody I was even going to be on the show. I knew that one big news event or celebrity drop-in and I would be bumped. But now it looked like it was really going to be happening so I mentioned it in a tweet. “I’m about to go on the CBS Morning News Show. I know. Weird.”
On with the show
My final prayer before stepping on to the set was “God, please don’t let me be a blooper reel.”
But I really felt pretty confident. I kept thinking about how excited my wife was that I was on this show and how she had called all her friends to watch me. I needed to make this work for her. That’s what I kept thinking.
It was a totally weird set-up having to talk to three people at the same time and having acclaimed journalist Charlie Rose staring you down. But it worked out fine, I think.
I was supposed to have a four-minute segment but it was abruptly cut-off at three and half minutes so that was kind of a bummer, or maybe it did save me from a blooper reel, who knows?
We actually stayed on the set after the interview chatting longer than the actual interview. Charlie was fascinated by the fact that somebody could become famous on the Internet without necessarily being an expert on anything. I assured him that in my field, this happens all the time.
The show sold a lot of books. For at least one day, Return On Influence was the best-selling PR, marketing and Internet book in the world, according to Amazon.
I got about 500 new Twitter followers in an hour.
Most important, my wife thought it was cool. I didn’t embarrass her. That’s pretty much my goal in life.
Long term, who knows? I did well enough that CBS said they would like to have me back in the future. Probably want me to have my own sitcom or something, right? Hell, if they can make TV shows out of pawn shops and swamp people, I guarantee the stuff I see on Twitter each day is at least that interesting. “The Real Men of Twitter” with your host Mark W. Schaefer.
Well there you have it. Amazing what can happen in 210 seconds.