What is publicity?
When you get press. It’s that simple.
What is the difference between PR and Marketing?
PR is telling a story, raising awareness, building relationships, and crisis management. As an example, in the 1980’s Johnson & Johnson pulled Tylenol off the market due to cyanide poisonings done by some idiot after bottles hit the shelves. They did a recall and halted all advertising. When they reintroduced it to consumers, they did so with new features to the product packaging and the drug itself, effectively salvaging their reputation as a brand. Another example would be Exxon and we all know how unsuccessful they were in managing a crisis.
Public Relations is an exchange between you and your customers. Marketing is advertising from you to your audience -this is the commercial, this is the flyer on the door. There is not an exchange, it is one-sided.
How do I approach the media to do my own PR?
For newspapers talk to the book editor or soft features editor. Typically you’ll get 2-3 pages, 2-3 weeks later if they decide they want you.
In TV, time is everything! This process should be no longer than 30min. When you call, ask to speak with the assignment desk, which is the hub of the newsroom, so make sure you’re quick and precise – 30sec-1min. For example, you could say, “My name is CJ, I just wrote a book about PR and Marketing in Social Media, may I e-mail a pitch for a story?” Get their email and give them yours so they recognize it. Make sure you put something in the title like CJ – PR & Marketing book. If they decide they want you, expect 2-3 min interview or just a quote in the news.
Radio is a bit more relaxed. Call the main desk and become that person’s best friend. We’re talking first name basis, how’s your Aunt Sue kinda friend. Find out which talent interviews authors and then ask for their producer. DO NOT ask for the talent directly. You can expect a 5min interview – that is…if they like you.
Magazines are a different beast because they typically work three issues ahead. Contact the feature editor or soft editor. DO NOT CONTACT the editor-in-chief. You’ll likely annoy them and risk losing that magazine as a PR and marketing resource.
Blogs are just as relaxed as radio, but make sure you still treat the owner like a journalist. Be professional. You’ll likely get a published interview or featured article.
How can I think like the media?
Answer your own five W’s & H, then ask yourself – SO WHAT?! Why are you relevant to the press? Are you debunking a myth? Do you have a story that is close to a headline? Are you an expert on something? Answer these questions now before you get on the phone with the media. Otherwise you’ll fumble and they won’t have confidence in your ability to give them something interesting for their audience. Maybe there is a gardening expo coming to town and you just so happen to know a lot about gardening because your main character is a gardener. Know how to spin it like they can!
What tools do I need for PR?
Do lots of press releases and always keep your target audience in mind. You’ll need blurbs for your book. This is not the back cover blurb. In PR this means the nice things people have said about your book, more notably – other authors, magazines, reviewers, etc. You should also have advanced review copies, at least fifteen, unedited. This is called a galley -physical copies you can give to magazines, bloggers and the like. Or you can put an electronic version on NetGalley.com.
And lastly, you’ll need Press Kits and Electronic Press Kits (EPKs-PDF format) which should include:
- Cover of the book
- Your bio
- About the book
- Your publishing journey
- Contact info
Common Mistakes Authors Make When Dealing with the Media
#1 They don’t watch the news – what’s going on in the world? How can you be relevant?
#2 They don’t know how the media works – just like you need to know who your audience is, know who your connections are and how they work. (Hopefully the above has helped resolve some of this for you.)
#3 Just because you’ve published a book, doesn’t mean they will write about you. Throw your sense of entitlement out the window.
#4 No cliches/jargon on press releases – 1pg 12pt, headline and lead, ten words or less.
#5 Learn the elevator speech – Don’t ramble, time is opportunity, too much time is opportunity lost.
This information is the product of a marketing and promotion class hosted by Sarah Lien of Lien Public Relations that I attended at the 2013 Romantic Times Booklovers Conference. Now instead of being a media whore, you can be a media hoarder by knowing how to reach out to your local media resources. In addition to the above information, Sarah gave us some things to consider when thinking about PR and marketing:
- Sell more than just books! She called this mailbox money. Sell merch like t-shirts or coffee mugs. Wendig does it here if you need an example.
- Serialize the first three chapters before a book release.
- Three to six months before the release of your book, start a PR campaign.
- Tribe market (attributed to Seth Godin) – get fifty to sixty people on social media who will talk you up.
- Stay positive, be willing to pound the pavement.
© 2013 C. S. Jameson. All Rights Reserved.