Can You Network Yourself To Media Publicity?

Mark C. Davis shares how he used principles from a class taught by Susan Harrow to market himself to the media through personal contacts--and gained a shot at being booked by Oprah!

[Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in Susan Harrow's newsletter, "Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul (TM): 60 Second Secrets" -- one of a number of marketing and media newsletters I read regularly. She also ran a later follow-up piece with Mark, talking about how he used his media skills to stretch his coverage on NBC to an almost unheard of 4-minute segment. To subscribe, visit her website, What I like about this piece is the way it shows you don't have to be a professional PR person or media superstar to do well with free publicity--a living embodiment of the principles I discuss in my book, Grassroots Marketing: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World

Note that "I" in the article refers to Susan at the beginning and end, and Mark in the middle--not to me.

--Shel Horowitz]

< Susan writes... >

Mark C. Davis, Personal Fitness Trainer and former student in my "Sell Yourself" class, contacted me to let me know he would be on KGO's Channel Seven News with Dr.Dean Edell. In addition, he was featured in the June 2001 issue of Men's Health Magazine. I asked him how he did it. Here's what he said:

< Mark writes... >

I borrowed my strategy from Ray Davies of the Kinks rock band. In his "Storyteller" show, he talks about how he became a famous successful rock star. He frequently starts a story with "I knew a man who knew a man who knew" [FILL IN THE BLANK].

I started working at the San Francisco Bay Club in 1997. From 1997 through 1999, I was in charge of the Signature Health Program. My job was to call and meet new members when they joined our club and help them get oriented. I would test their fitness during a 90 minute appointment and then do another one-hour training appointment.

As I was in charge of the program, I got first pick of who I would work with. If I spotted anyone who was involved with PR or any type of media, I made sure they were "mine."

During the 90 minute fitness test appointment, I would put them on a treadmill and ask them their life story. After they told me their story, they would inevitably ask me how I got into fitness. I would pull out my 8x10 photo of me standing on a beach at 368 pounds and say "That was me."(I currently weigh 200 pounds and no longer weigh myself).

I always got a startled, amazed reaction (a couple of people almost fell off of the treadmill). They would want to know every detail of my transformation. I always gave them a business card with my "before" and "after" color photos. I did this with literally hundreds of people.

I got to know a man who knew a man who was Editor-in-Chief of Men's Health. I kept in touch with him (he is in charge of West Coast Advertising Sales), and after a year Men's Health decided to do my story.

One of the people I met was the anchorwoman of a local Spanish-language TV station. She was struggling with her weight. I told her my story in Spanish (my second language) and the next thing I knew, I was doing a live interview in Spanish that was broadcast by Univision all over the U.S. and Latin America. I actually got a call from a person who did not speak Spanish but saw my pictures on TV and wanted to train with me.

The Dr. Dean Edell story came about because we hired a Registered Dietician. I was involved in interviewing her and realized she had a lot of media contacts. I told her my story and let her know I wanted to publicize it. She told my story to Dr. Dean Edell's producer and they jumped on it. The story was broadcast two days in a row all over the U.S. (not just locally on KGO).

My Men's Health story was in the June 2001 issue. I plan on using the Edell and Univision interview tapes along with the Men's Health story to leverage my way onto national talk shows such as Oprah. I am currently working on a book.

The more publicity I receive, the more people I will get to know who know people who can help me.

If there are two things I learned and applied, they are:

1. You have to constantly work everyday at creating your own PR.

2. Don't be afraid to ask for anything. (I remember the exercise you did in your class where you offered a free book if someone did the right thing. The guy that walked right up to you and asked for it got it).

I applied principle number 2.

I just found out that Oprah is looking for people like me for an upcoming show about weight loss success stories. I quickly sent off my tape and a one-page letter on why I should be on the show along with a tape of my Dean Edell interview. I remembered that a friend and fellow trainer used to train at the club where Oprah works out. I chatted with my friend and it turns out he trained the person who "discovered" Oprah along with one of Oprah's producers. My friend will introduce me to Oprah's associates.

Haven't heard anything yet; you will be one of the first to know. I know it is extremely hard to get booked on Oprah; but it is impossible without asking.

I guess I learned a couple of things in your class!

< Susan writes... > Mark did/does a number of great media-savvy things.

1. He incorporates PR into his daily life.

2. He makes it a point to meet and establish a relationship with media people or people who have media contacts.

3. He asks for what he wants over and over again.

4. He sent a tape demonstrating that he's "mediagenic"--along with a one-page letter pitching his story. (Producers appreciate brevity.)

5. He believes in what he does.

6. He's a walking testament to his own success.

7. He's committed to other people's success.

8. He perseveres.

Way to go, Mark!

Mark C. Davis is an American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) certified Personal Fitness Trainer at The San Francisco Bay Club. He specializes in working with overweight people of all sizes. 415.901.9354

To see "before" and "after" photos of Mark, go to:

P.S. To do a media tour, you need both stamina and to be in excellent physical condition. One client of mine who worked-out hard every day and said she had "endless energy" was so exhausted after a two-week media tour she had to take a vacation to recuperate! If you want to get into shape BEFORE your phone starts ringing off the hook, set up an appointment with Mark or a personal trainer in the discipline of your choice in your local area.

Reprinted with permission from Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul (tm): 60 Second Secrets, a free monthly marketing and publicity e-zine that gives you tips, techniques and secrets to sell yourself, your business, book, product, service or cause with integrity and spirit. Get it FREE today at

SecurityMetrics for PCI Compliance, QSA, IDS, Penetration Testing, Forensics, and Vulnerability Assessment


Many of the 1000+ articles on Frugal Fun and Frugal Marketing have been gathered into magazines. If you'd like to read more great content on these topics, please click on the name of the magazine you'd like to visit.

Ethics Articles - Down to Business Magazine - Frugal & Fashionable Living Magazine
Global Travel Review - Global Arts Review - Peace & Politics Magazine
Frugal Marketing Tips - Frugal Fun Tips - Principled Profit
Why The Business Ethics Pledge Campaign
Clean and Green Marketing

Our Privacy Policy

Tell a Friend or Colleague about!

Click here to order Shel's books on cost-effective and ethical marketing

This site is brought to you by Shel Horowitz,
Director of Accurate Writing & More--bringing you marketing,
writing, and career assistance since 1981.
(413) 586-2388

For information on reprinting articles from this site, click here.

You're also invited to visit our sister sites:
(ethical, cooperative, and profitable business success)
(How to have more fun and spend a lot less money)
(marketing, writing, and career services)

Social networking icons by

Disclosures of Material Connections:

Site copyright © 2000-2011 by Shel Horowitz