Tag Archives: strategy

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



The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

JaipurThe Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel opened on March 6th. My husband and I were eagerly anticipating and hoping to see the movie before we left for India but the schedule didn’t allow. We thought its predecessor, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was a great movie, very entertaining. But what made it special for us is that we went to Jaipur, India after it released and actually saw the place where it was filmed. Because of our firsthand knowledge of life in Jaipur, we could relate on many levels. Having friends in India and “doing” ministry there, we hoped that the second would be just as good. Hey, if it has Richard Gere in it, it has to be, right?!

At this very moment, we are back in Jaipur and we hear that the reviews have not been so great. But it made me think about PR. (I know. You are asking, “What doesn’t?”)
With the success of the first movie and cast including Richard Gere and Judy Dench, expectations for the sequel were high. The first week grossed more than $8 million and by the second week the total was $12 million. I am not a movie critic or expert, but I’m not sure this is what everyone had hoped for.

So what happened?

The reviews by moviegoers were great, most were 10s, but the response from movie critics was not so great. Did their opinion keep people away? Was it the time of release? Was it a poorly written story line? Poor acting? (Hard to believe with that cast!) Was it promoted well enough? (Probably so. I saw it everywhere.) We may never know for sure.
Such is the nature of PR. With all of the work that goes into promoting and building a public platform, you never know for sure what will “stick” and resonate with the audience. I am sure that the PR strategists behind this film did their homework and knew their audience. I am confident they did everything possible to get the actors placed on the right shows, posted throughout social media, and the trailers were spectacular, sure to capture the attention of anyone enamored with the exotic feel of India. Since I haven’t seen it yet, I can’t comment on the storyline…was it weak?

Sometimes a book is promoted well, has a great cover, the authors receive rave reviews only to see it fizzle because the writing is not that great, the message doesn’t resonate or the author fails to “stay” in the public eye to continue to promote the book. There are other times that little is done in the way of promotion yet it rips through a certain demographic and finds its way onto the best-seller list (e.g. – David Platt’s Radical or Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz) and in the process, provides a platform for the author where they now have a “voice” that people will listen to.

I say that it all goes back to spaghetti. “Spaghetti,” you ask? Yes, spaghetti! Throw it on the wall and see if it sticks. And throw a lot of it. And keep throwing it. Throw different kinds of spaghetti (angel hair, fettuccini, lasagna, etc.) and see what the audience likes. Sometimes you are not surprised by the results and sometime you are.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be strategic or targeted, but the truth is that sometimes we are surprised, sometimes maybe not, but we have to keep trying.

What are you doing that is working for you? How are you promoting your message, building your platform? I would love to hear from you!

Tina Jacobson is the founder and CEO of The Barnabas Agency.