Call after call this week, all with the same premise from the prospective clients: “I want to promote my book/product in the media. It’s the best book out there on the topic. No other product has ever done this before.” Wake up people! It is not the job of the media to promote your book, product or anything else. If you really don’t want to get any publicity, then go ahead: ask them to promote your book and products. You won’t get very far.

The media has one purpose: to report the news. If you look at any successful media campaign, they all have one thing in common: the client served as an expert to provide his or her perspective and expert analysis of stories. And in the process, the media identifies that person as the author of the book.

The point here: Stop trying to promote your book. Stop trying to promote your products. Instead, what is your book about? Maybe you’re a psychiatrist and can talk about mental health stories. Maybe you’re a financial advisor and can speak to the ups and downs of the market. Maybe you’re a wedding planner and can talk about all the latest and greatest trends in the wedding industry. That has always been, and will always be, the best way to get your name in the media. Remember, it’s never about you, your book or your product. It’s about the takeaway and what you have to offer to the reader, listener or viewer at home. It’s about positioning yourself as an expert in your industry.

To be clear, that doesn’t mean your book or product can’t help. If you’re an author, use your book to show some credibility with the media. If you’ve got a product, what problem does it solve? Maybe you have a line of nutritional supplements, for example. Don’t push the line of products. Instead, speak to the topics your supplements target. The fact that you are the founder of these products will establish your credibility.

To be equally clear, there is—however—a time and a place to push your books and products. Book reviewers have become few and far between at daily newspapers, but plenty of bloggers and other online sites review books. There are also opportunities for product reviews and inclusion in gift guides. But even with these opportunities, your book or product needs to really be different. Think about how many books on positive thinking are out there? How many weight loss books are available in bookstores? How many books on business, sales and marketing? Be unique. Be memorable. Be different. Have a catchy title. Go against conventional wisdom. Say something nobody has ever heard before. Even so, you’re going to see a much bigger return by simply speaking to stories in your area of expertise—and using the book/product to establish credibility.

The bottom line: it’s never about your book or product. It’s about being an expert in your field. Think of it as a partnership with a journalist: they get an expert voice to quote in their story, and you get the publicity. It’s a win-win for all, but it starts by showing them what’s in it for them, not what’s in it for you.