Why your publicist is worth her weight in gold

by Booth Media Group

“All you need is a good story.” While it would be nice to get results based on merit alone, part of the value of a good PR firm is their contacts. Though having a relationship with a producer is certainly not a guarantee of a booking, it can sometimes be the difference between getting your story heard and the email being deleted unopened. The best story in the world doesn’t mean anything if the person it’s pitched to doesn’t read emails from strangers or is in the wrong department. And yes, it is true that anyone can pitch anyone anything – you don’t HAVE to be a PR professional to leave a voicemail – but when your publicist has spent the time and energy getting to know who prefers email and who prefers to be pitched on Twitter and what their names are and when they’re most likely to respond, that effort means that her email is more likely to be opened, read, and replied to favorably.

Another part of this myth is the angle of the story. Yes, it helps when the story is “good.” We can all get drawn into a compelling tale of injustice, love, or adventure, for example. But some stories are more complex and require a deft hand to unpeel their layers and show the best angles to the press. Your publicist is experienced at taking any story, looking at the news of the day and what the press wants now, and making the two meet in the perfect pitch. And that is worth its weight in gold.

“You must send a press release.” A press release is a time-honored method of sharing news with media outlets. In the days before the internet made instant information sharing a thing toddlers can understand, the press release was the best way of sharing information accurately. But in an era when reporters receive too many emails to open much less read in a day, the publicist’s job is much more complex. Of course the press release is still a valuable tool, but now it must be carefully crafted and intentionally pitched. And we must remember that it’s not a guarantee of results. It must be accompanied by the personality and persistence that make a publicist so effective.

These are two PR myths that are important for clients to understand, especially if they are new to this game. You could have the best story in the world, with a pretty solid press release, but the relationships that your publicist has nurtured with the media and the skill she or he has developed for appropriately pitching that story are so priceless.

The Shy Author’s Guide to Shameless Self-Promotion

There are those who are the Don Kings of book promotion and who revel in the busy atmosphere of finding their unique space within a book signing or press junket. And, there are those authors who shy away completely, wishing their book would sell based on their writing merits alone without speaking words to other human beings. And even in this new era of book promotion, your audience would like to meet and understand the person behind those words in the book that cost them x number of dollars. That human connection is still what sells books.

There is help, however for the shy author who would rather hire a stunt double than speak in a public forum about their book.
Here are some tips:

1. Prepare all the things you want to say or have announced about you. By writing down different ways to kick off conversation about the book that you are comfortable with, you can have some sense of control over the narrative. If you ignore the process altogether, you might find yourself in conversations you simply do not want to have.

2. Be a participant in the physical set up of the table, desk, podium placement or interview seating. This will empower you to, again, have some sense of control about what your audience sees and feels when they meet you. If you have marketing material to share like personalized bookmarks, signed copies of your book or cards with your social media handles, share it. Allow these items to do the “speaking” for you.

3. Put out candy, or something! Invite the warmth to your table in any way you can and if candy, or mittens, or keychains or something that can be taken directly from your book, use it.

4. Know that if your digital marketing has done its job right, there is an audience waiting for you and they want to see you. Be yourself and enjoy the ride. They came for you.

5. Co-signing. If you are still terrified to meet and greet your readers or to hold any kind of book signing, why not pair up with a fellow author? Cross promotion can become something greater for you and should not be viewed as competitive but as a compliment. By endorsing each other’s books in the form of casual conversation (much like a podcast) you will eventually find the courage to venture out and promote your book on your own. Plus, merging different audiences can win a wider fan base.

6. Blog and reach out on social media more. If public speaking is simply not for you, keep yourself free of any form of speaking by writing and stepping up your web presence. Start an email list and reach out with newsletters and announcements. Make your audience feel special.

Meet your audience wherever they are. Of course, they are online, but they are also in bookstores and at events. Connecting with one will help you connect with many: and that connection will sell your book.

Leaving a Great Voicemail (Smile): how to say it all in 30 seconds

By Booth Media Group

If you’ve been in PR for more than five minutes, you know voicemail is as ubiquitous as coffee in this field. Even if you do a fair amount of your pitching and follow up by email, being able to leave effective voicemails is an essential skill.

There is a lot of talk out there about the “Elevator Pitch,” the quick version of your message that can be delivered in the time it takes an elevator to reach its destination. This is a valuable exercise not only for job or investment seekers, but also for PR professionals in search of a favorable media contact. When you’ve been calling all day, each voicemail, each interaction, is a priceless possibility – so that message needs to have oomph, elegance, and a bit of conviction.

To have any hope of convincing your listener, you must be believable and concise. Know your point: What is the point of your call? To get an interview or review. What is the point of your client’s message? That is the hard part: to become an expert on someone else’s book or endeavor so that you can sound like it is your own. Studying the material is of course important, but so is practicing your “elevator pitch.” Be able to tell whoever answers the phone exactly what you want and why they need to say yes. If they can’t tell what the heart of your message is within 30 seconds, you’re saying too much. Trim it down so it’s blindingly obvious to anyone listening.

If you are having trouble with this, grab a friend or a tape recorder and practice your pitch until you can say the whole thing in 30-45 seconds with all relevant details: Who, What, Why, and How to book an interview. If your media contact wants to know more, be ready to answer questions and describe in greater detail why your client is a great fit for the show, newspaper, or other platform. But you’ll only get that opportunity if you start off with confidence and clarity.

We recommend taking a deep breath as the person on the other end says, “hello,” and smiling while you introduce yourself. While quickly and clearly pitching your client, keep smiling, and remember to be pleasant and helpful, not pushy or demanding. It’s important not to sound like you’re rehearsing a speech that’s been given a hundred times before, so keeping just a few bullet points of your topics and themes in front of you on a post-it note will help you sound conversational and casual. Sounding like a human being and not like a recording can go a long way to keeping the interest of your listener. Be a human!

A great, short, and interesting pitch can be the difference between yet another nonresponsive contact, and a producer or editor who becomes a valuable resource. Get cracking on practicing!