Category Archives: Public Relations

Planning your Communications Strategy—Social Media, Events, and Advertising

Building Your Public Platform Series Public Relations for the Author–Part 8

Author Series #6

Media, Events, and Advertising

This is the last post in the series. Fasten your seat belt. I have crammed a lot of information into this post. I hope these tools are helpful as you build your platform.

The last three channels are very important to the overall plan. Let’s take a look:

 Social MediaAuthor Series #8a

As we have seen in a previous post, there are a plethora of social media channels today. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vimeo, Google+, SnapChap, Pinterest…the list goes on and on. It can be overwhelming and for the novice, it can make you want to run from your computer screaming and tearing your hair out…especially if you are over the age of 45.

But, it is a very important tool to use. I am not going to go in depth in this post. I am not a social media expert. There are those who are and one that I recommend is Rick Roberson at Gab About it. You can also google online and read many posts about how to get started. I found this great Social Media Author Guidelines, just by a Google search. It outlines each channel and how to use it. My advice, choose one and start. Most writers choose Facebook because that is where the majority of people that read books are engaging. Pinterest is a good channel for books as well.

But remember this: it is not the only tool. Thus, the need for a holistic plan that includes all these elements.

Events/Grassroots effortsAuthor Series #8b

Who are the “low hanging fruit”, the people who will be the most interested in your writing? These are the people who you know personally. Begin early to think of creative events and things to do. Here are a few ideas:

  1. One of the best lists is your Christmas Card list. Don’t wait until Christmas, send them a postcard about your book!
  2. Plan a book launch party, ask one of you friends to host it for you. Invite you neighbors, your Sunday school or small group, or any other group that you are involved with.
  3. Ask to speak with you local civic organizations such as the Rotary or Lion’s club in your town. If you are afraid of public speaking, join Toastmasters and learn!
  4. Visit your local library and talk to the librarian about getting your book and also hosting a reading at the library for the launch of the book.
  5. Think of places that have a theme that fits your book. For instances, if you have a fitness message, go to the YMCA or other fitness places and see if you can host an event.
  6. Host a coffee time to chat at a local coffee house. (Be willing to pay for the coffee!)
  7. If you have a teaching message, determine how to create workshops for people to attend.
  8. Go to your local bookstore and ask to set up a signing. Typically book signings are not well attended but doing one at your local bookstore is a good way to get to know the owner/manager. Don’t expect a huge crowd, and maybe not any at all. But if the store agrees, be proactive and let all your friends and family know so they can come by…and buy a book or two!
  9. Think of experts you know (pastors, professors, other writers) or those you want to get to know. Send them an advance copy of your book in a pdf and ask them to write an endorsement. Always ask for referrals.
  10. Get business cards, postcards, and bookmarks created so that you can pass those out liberally.

Lastly, start in your local area or city with those you know and then branch out regionally from there.

AdvertisingAuthor Series #8c

These days there are many ways to advertise.

For most of my client, I suggest looking at online and digital advertising. Magazine ads, billboards, TV, are expensive. You need to be sure that this is the way you want to spend your money before embarking on this type of ad buys. So check out Gab About It and spend your money on online ads through Facebook and Google. This will give you the best bang for your buck. IMO.

It is import to remember that none of the elements work alone. Success will come when there is a good match of these elements and when all are working in coordination. Many start by picking one channel to see if it “works” for a few weeks. This is not an effective way to build your platform. In fact, it seldom “works”.

Ideally, PR works when all elements of your plan are going on simultaneously.

Whatever you do, realize that this book is your baby. No one is going to have the same feelings that you have about it. Your family and friends will love it because it is yours. Be realistic in your expectations and goals and work hard to make this a success.

There are only rare occasions for a book to just take off…and there are a lot of one-hit wonders because people failed to plan and worked the plan.

In the weeks ahead I will dig more into each of these aspects and share what other professionals are doing. Until then, start working on the first six points so that you can build your platform and people can hear and know your message. Of course, you can hire someone to do all this for you or consult with you during the process. We are available for either!

Happy platform building!tina's first name signature

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powtoonThis is a blog series posts that I created for a digital communications class at Dallas Baptist University. I graduated with my masters in communications on August 5, 2016!

Planning your Communications Strategy—Publicity

Building Your Public Platform Series Public Relations for the Author–Part 7

Author Series #6

As we have mentioned throughout this series, it is important to plan ahead. There are many elements that need to be completed before your book ever gets to print. Publicity is one of them.

 Publicity is “earned media” as opposed to advertising which is “paid media.” Earned media occurs when the press, customers or others share your brand or content. According to an article at PRSA.org based on a study by Nielsen, “Ninety-two percent of those surveyed said they trust earned media.” Why? Because people trust the referral of others or the media. Earned Media “draws the attention of your prospects and customers, turns them into brand advocates and influencers, who will, in turn, push your brand before the eyes of more customers and potential brand advocates.”

Author Series #7a

And if that doesn’t convince you…in a study conducted by two professors at the University of Pittsburgh, they found that earned media, both traditional and social, has a “long-run positive effects on new and repeat sales.” They also found that while the sizes of these effects across the various media and sales channels differ greatly, that “traditional earned media activity has the largest per-event long-run impact.”

So let’s get started on your traditional earned media…publicity! It will take time to develop your publicity and relationships with the media. Here are some tips to help you develop your publicity:

  1. Start by writing a press kit. This will consist of:
  • A press release about the book. This is a one-page piece that describes the book and answers the questions about what problem you are solving.
  • A bio about you, the author. As mentioned in a previous post, this should be a heartwarming one-page piece about you, what you like to do, why you are writing, etc. Include a picture of you.
  • A suggested interview questions Most broadcast hosts do not have time to read the books that come across their desk. They rely on these question to steer the conversation. Write a series of 7-10 questions in a logical sequence about your book or message.
  • Q&A. Turn the suggested interview questions in a question and answer article by writing the answers to the questions. Online sites may post this.
  • There may be other ancillary materials such as articles you have written, book trailer, videos you have speaking about the book or topic, etc. that you may want to include.
  • Put all of these pieces together into one pdf. This will be your electronic press kit. Place this pdf on your website under the media tab.
  1. More homework. Do a google search for media. There are several places where you can find and purchase information. One of those sites is Mondo Times. Doing media research is more than just gathering a list. You need to watch and read the different outlets. Find the journalist that are writing or covering your topic. Read and follow their blogs. Don’t make the mistake thinking everyone is a fit for your message. If you have a serious topic on grief and death, reaching out to a high energy morning drive radio DJ is probably not the best place for your message. If they do not cover your topic, move on and don’t bother them. The journalist will be friendlier to those who have done their research about them.
  1. After you have written the press kit and have done your homework on the media, you need to contact them. Start by sending a query email. In an article in Fast Company, the author referenced a study conducted by Muck Rack that “92% of journalists preferred to be pitched by email…” Don’t attach files, those usually go to their spam box. The first email needs to be a query and should be personal. Even mention that you have read one of their articles or watched one f their shows, if appropriate. Don’t try to fake this…they can tell. Ask for permission to send them the book and/or the press kit. Then take the relationship from there.
  1. You can check back with them several times but don’t inundate them with a phone call or email them every day. They will write you off pretty quickly if you do.

Publicity is relationship building. It takes time and the ability to stick with it to capture the attention of the savvy journalist. A 2014 survey by Nielsen concluded that “PR is almost 90% more effective than advertising.”

If you find this task daunting, give us a call. We have been doing book publicity for 29 years! We have many different ways we can get you the media interviews and reviews you need!tina's first name signature

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Planning your Communications Strategy–Online

Building Your Public Platform Series Public Relations for the Author–Part 6

Author Series #6

Start with a long-term goal in mind, then create a plan.  I encourage you to think long-term. Determine if you have more than one book to write. Once you stop sending out information about your book or messages, once you stop engaging with others in your social media channels, someone is in the wings waiting to take your place. It’s quite possible that someone already is.

Next, Set a Budget.  Start by setting your goals, both financial and personal.  I want to sell X number of books by this date. I also want to reach X number of people with this message because I know it will help them.  You need to have realistic expectations. It is rare to see a return on your investment in the first year. You will be lucky if you break even in year two. That is the reality.

In planning your strategy, the trick is to match your message to your market using the right channels. Using one channel will not get your message to all the people who need to hear it. It will not produce the sales you want or need. It won’t do you any good to send email blasts to a group of millennials since they get their messages through Instagram and Snapchat. You will need to incorporate all channels (earned, paid and owned) of media in your plan.

In these last three blog posts on this series, I will give you some elements to consider in your plan/strategy. Here’s the first one:
Author Series #6a

Online. Your online media is your owned media (as well as your brochures, postcards, etc.). Start early and get your website and/or blog up to date. Your blog is like an online journal or newsletter. The idea is to write short (400-700 words) articles. These can consist of excerpts from your book, but more importantly, writings on other thoughts or expanded ideas from your book. Consider breaking up longer posts into a series.

You need to determine how often you write. Once a week is a good rule of thumb. But whatever you decide, post. Don’t neglect to post for weeks at a time. You will not create a following that way.

Today there are easy ways to create your blog. Your blog can also serve as your website. Check out WordPress, Wix, and Weebly. These are some of the most common places to start. They have great templates and easy to manage sites.

Make sure you have all the elements you need. In your research, look at several blog/websites of others and see what works best for you. Some of the pages you will need include:

  • On this page, you need to have a heartwarming bio of you and a picture that is different from the standard headshots.
  • About the book or resources page. This will be the page that points to Amazon or other online stores. You can also create your own online store.
  • What People Are Saying. This can be a separate page with the quotes from your endorsers. You can also provide a link back to their websites.
  • Contact page. Put one page, that is easy to find, that includes all of your contact information on it.
  • Media page. This is a page to put links to book reviews, interviews, etc. It will also contain your electronic press kit, photos, videos excerpts, endorsements, and other materials.

The website or blog is your brochure. It is where the media, the consumer, and those who want to have you come to speak at their venue will search for more information about you. It is a place to put more content. You might have an online devotional that goes along with your book, teaching videos/audio, or other articles you have written. These need to be housed in your site.

Most importantly, if you don’t have good content (and a lot of it), or if your brand looks “homemade”, you will not generate the interest. We help authors put their sites together and helped them maintain a consistent, professional brand. Call us.tina's first name signature

 

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DO YOUR HOMEWORK… KNOW YOUR TARGET MARKET

Building Your Public Platform Series Public Relations for the Author–Part 5

Author Series #5

Do you know who your reader will be? Beyond your family and close friends? I have had most first-time authors come to me and say, “My book is for everybody.” This is rarely the case.

To create a public platform, it will be very important to know who your audience is and who you are writing your message to. Here are some steps to take to determine who the target market is for your book:

  1. First, start off by identifying your target consumer of your book. Is this person male or female? What is their age? Is he/she married? Do they have children? Where do they live?

This can look like: I am writing about how to raise a child that will not boomerang, move back home, as an adult. My target audience is the female reader over 45. Males would be a secondary audience. These females will be married, divorced and single. They have at least one adult child, over the age of 21. They live in the United States and possibly Canada.

  1. Then think through and answer the following questions:
  • What are they challenged with?
  • What problems do they need to solve?
  • What are their goals and values?
  • Where are they getting their source of information?

This can look like: I am writing to parents of foster children. They are challenged with children who have multiple emotional problems and some may have physical problems. Their biological kids may have difficulty accepting the new sibling. They need help to figure out how to blend their family with as little stress as possible. They value family and their goal is to have a loving household. They get their information from websites that cater to foster parents, seminars for fostering and church.

  1. Another thing you can do is solicit friends and family. You can email them with these lists of question tailored to your topic or put a question up on your Facebook page.
  1. Lastly, research. Once you know the profile of your reader, you will want to research the reader’s habit. Take note where the congregate online. See what they are buying. Find out where they get their information. In your research, you will want to also find out who your competition is and what they are doing to sell their books. You will need to search and see how well their books are selling. Here are some good places to gather information:

Once you have this information, you can make a profile about who your target market is. You will know what they like, where they meet/congregate, and how they like to receive their messages and news. You will be able to use this information to help inform you on the next steps, creating the written plan.

If you need help, we can coach you or do the work for you.  Just send a message and we can let you know what we can do.tina's first name signature

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WHEN DO YOU START BUILDING YOUR PLATFORM?

Building Your Public Platform Series Public Relations for the Author–Part 4

Author Series #4

Early and Often.

I am a scuba diver. The first thing we were taught in our dive class was to clear you ears early and often. This helps you equalize pressure in your ear canal, not to mention keep you from busting your ear drums.

Early and Often has become my mantra as I have worked in PR and publicity.

Writing a book is hard work. I am not just talking about the actual writing. Most writers who contact me think that after they write the book, the work is done. But they quickly come to the startling realization…

That’s just not true.

If you have written your book, and not consider what to do before it goes to print, you’ve made a huge mistake. If you have your 501c3 all set, your website built and even your marketing materials created, but you haven’t considered how to let people know what you are doing, you’ve made a huge mistake.

 It doesn’t matter if the book is published with a traditional publisher or you are doing it yourself. You need to have a plan in place. It doesn’t matter if you have all the funds raised for PR and marketing. You need a plan in place to move the message forward.

Unless you consider your PR & communications plan well in advance, at least 6 months prior to your publication date, you will be behind in getting any traction for books sales or media interviews, if you get any at all. Why? Here are 4 things to consider:

  1. It takes time to build a buzz about your book or you as the author. You need to build awareness of you and your writing through your blogs and social media channels. You need to begin setting up times to go and speak. The buzz needs to start about your book well before the publication date so that people are eager and want to go buy it.
  2. Some media, such as print publications and television programs, book guests or do interviews 6-9 months ahead of the time the article goes to print or the program airs on TV. You need to have your information in front of them early.
  3. Bookstores order 6 months ahead for each season. They want to know that there is an active PR plan in place for the book before they will even consider purchasing one copy.
  4. And while we are on bookstores, your book has a 3-month shelf life. After that time, the buyers are on to the next season/cycle and looking at books to stock their shelves. If your book is not selling, it is either returned or it goes on the greatly reduced table.

So remember…Early and Often! It is very important to have a plan in place and to work the plan, daily. Don’t let things blow up because you started too late!tina's first name signature

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HOW DOES YOUR MESSAGE STAND OUT? HOW DOES IT GET NOTICED?

Building Your Public Platform Series Public Relations for the Author–Part 3

Author Series #3

“Just call your contact and get me on The Today Show? Then I will sell a ton of books”

 “Let’s devise a clever video and get on Jimmy Kimmel. Everyone will know what we do then and donors will flood in!”

 “I am sure I can get my video to go viral by one post on Facebook then I can sell all the books I need too.”

 “You know the pastor at the largest church in the city, I am sure if you tell him, and your other contact, that they need me to speak at your church…I will sell my books and people will sign up to volunteer with our program.”

That’s all I need, just one big show, one or two large speaking engagements and I can sell tons of books and get all the donors or volunteers that I need. Sounds reasonable, right?

It doesn’t really work that way.

As a book writer (whether you are independently publishing, traditional publisher or want a traditional publisher), building your platform and delivering your message is up to you.

Your Message is Uniquely Yours

Author Series #3a

So how do I get my message to stand out?  You…

KISS it!

 Normally, this stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. But I have changed it to Keep It Short & Simple.  Here are 3 things you can do to develop your message.

  1. Create 60 sec and 30 sec synopsis of what your message is about. These are called elevator speeches. Why? If you find yourself on the elevator with a producer of a program, or even a person interested in your book, you need to be prepared to briefly tell them what your book/organization is about. These short bits of information should explain the problem, tell that it is an important problem with factual statements, and tell why now is the time to solve the problem. Explain why you are the only person who can solve that problem and include the benefits they receive from you or your group. It’s always nice to have endorsements secured from one or two celebrities or experts in your field so you can reference them.
  1. Create 5-10 talking points about your book/message. These are just for you to use to help you stay centered on the message. Print out the sheet and keep it as your cheat sheet for interviews or other opportunities when you have time to explain your message.
  1. Newsjacking—Reporters are looking for additional information for stories that they are working on. If you are an expert or have a legitimate tie-in to a news story, and you are quick to act, sending a comment to journalists on “new of the day” is newsjacking. You will want to consider how your message may fit before the news happens. David Scott writes in The New Rules of Marketing & PR, “Your goal with newsjacking is to get your take on a breaking news story in front of journalists at the moment they are looking for additional information to put in their stories.” Warning. Don’t pretend and don’t make something up for the sake of having something to say. Make your comments relevant and if you don’t’ have one, it is best to WAIT until you do. Don’t take a chance and blow your credibility.

Lastly, let me warn you that you may need to adjust your messaging during a campaign. In an article in PR Daily, the author gave two good reasons you might need to change: (1) the message is just not working, and (2) the message is not relevant anymore. Watch for these and, if needed, engage help.

We can help you create the message. We can craft it, or coach you…you choose.  Just give us a jingle!tina's first name signature

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THERE’S A LOT OF NOISE OUT THERE!

Building Your Public Platform Series Public Relations for the Author–Part 2

Author Series #2

Communication, the giving and exchanging of information, has become even more difficult in the 21st century. Where we use to have a few channels to communicate a message (three television channels, local & regional radio programs, newspapers, and magazines), now there are thousands.

Noise, as it relates to communication, is defined by Business Dictionary as: “Anything that interferes with, slows down, or reduces the clarity or accuracy of a communication.” Today, People have countless choices to find their information. And information, as you know, is now 24/7 and instant. With these choices comes many interruptions that we call “noise.” How many of you get notifications on your phone every few minutes from some news source on some breaking news?

So, you ask.  How much noise is out there?  Let’s take a look at the channels:

Author Series #2a

  • 16,000+ TV Networks in the US including cable/represents 116.6 Million US Household
  • 15,000 + Radio stations in the US
  • 7,291 magazines (print and online) in US (2014) / 1,331 newspapers in US
  • Facebook: 1.59 billion ( as of December 2015)
  • Instagram: 400 million (as o f September 2015)
  • Twitter: 320 million (March 2016)
  • LinkedIn: 100 million (October 2015)
  • Pinterest: 100 million (September 2015)
  • 7 million blog accounts

That is a lot of noise! So how can you use public relations and build your platform? Before the internet and social media, you would hire a PR practitioner. This person would write a press release and mail, or email, to the journalist or program host. This would be followed up by a telephone call to book interviews or reviews.

Today, while there is still much value in hiring a professional, there are many things you can do to enhance your own PR. In a Fast Company article titled “Defining the Future of Public Relations,” Jarone Ashkenazi states, “At its core PR is still about great storytelling but the future of PR is about creating a shareable experience.”

Now you have an opportunity to share your stories (books, messages) to many different audiences in many different ways. Because of the different channels available to you, you can establish yourself as the authority in your area. In an article about Disney, the author states: “Even the most boring of industries can find ways to make their content marketing and social presence stand out. Write like you speak, be specific, let your sense of humor show and tell your story visually.”

Need help sifting through all the noise.  We can help. Just send us a message!

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