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Publicity Planner for 2013 – Identifying Opportunities for Media Coverage Well In Advance of Deadlines

Publicity planner is a publicity calendar designed to help people identify opportunities for media coverage

Every year I create a forward-looking publicity calendar to help identify opportunities for media coverage in advance which is available in a free pdf file download.

It contains a lot of unusual holidays so that you can get creative, think ahead, and identify ways to tie-in to calendar events well in advance of the day they occur.

Here are the links to the Publicity Planner for 2013:

• Color version (the dazzling beautiful to look at edition)

http://www.directcontactpr.com/files/files/Publicitycalendar2013.pdf or http://goo.gl/MMz6N

BW version (low ink eating printable edition)

http://www.directcontactpr.com/files/files/publicitycalendar2013bw.pdf or http://goo.gl/LLScX

Many more useful tips, articles and resources are included in the calendar. The calendar can be printed or used on your computer.

Share freely. Reach out and help the people you can help the most. Enjoy!

Happy New Year! Stay safe wherever you go!

Publicity Planner for 2013

Advice to politicians about how to get more and better media coverage

Advice to politicians about how to get more and better media coverage

A political staffer for a member of Congress asked me for advice on how to get more coverage and better coverage. Here’s what I recommended:

1. Stick with the important facts and keep it short and to the point. I know that’s hard for politicians, but that’s what media want.

2. Get rid of all pithy quotes and remarks, all self-laudatory praise, any tedious, boring and useless blather, and anything you can’t prove with the facts. Nail it with style, using the smallest tool needed every time.

3. Tackle controversy head on, state your position distinctively and with precision, but avoid partisan platform brown bag advocacy, being pedantic, winey, or argumentative. Express passion and emotion when it is called for, but don’t go overboard and rant and rave. Be aware for your previous positions and explain the reasons for any change of heart, position or direction.

4. Indicate the vehicles for people to send comments, express their opinion and to provide feedback and the express an active and sincere willingness to listen to the people. You may find that funny and scary, but it really does impress people.

5. Offer media what they need to do their job (factual validation, photos, Q & A’s, interview opportunities, and visual aids). Make it fit the format of the media you are working with and make it unique for them.

6. Offer media easy access to the people that matter but not intermediaries or to people who don’t matter. Make it easy not hard to do interviews and schedule news conferences frequently. Give media the lead time they need to schedule and deploy the resources needed to give you what you want. Media coverage is valuable so use it wisely and get good at it.

7. Target the media who matter. Identify the people who will be interested and affected and pitch and feed to the media that they watch, read or listen.

Using Publicity to Overwhelm the Impacts of Illegal Downloads of Electronic Versions of Books and other Products

Using Publicity to Overwhelm the Impacts of Illegal Downloads of Electronic Versions of Books and other Products

I can’t advise you on how to prevent it or stop it, although there may be techie ways to reduce the risks. I believe that there are evil people out there and you cannot avoid all of them if they want to steal from you.

I honestly think spending time chasing down the evil people is a time-wasting negative spiral that will fail to produce meaningful success or personal satisfaction given the choices you have to create the positive platform you want to achieve success.

What you can do is market and promote and publicize so effectively and thoroughly that the number of people who steal from you is de minimis compared to the income that you derive from your publishing and other related sources of income, and because of the sheer power, presence and reach of the personal and professional brand you have created for yourself.

Focus on helping the people you can help the most. Get out there in front of the people you want to reach so many times and give them such quality content, advice, information and entertainment that the links to your articles and posts you get on your own and other people’s sites simply overwhelm the organic search results that contain the links to the illegal download sites.

Be so active in media and the online communities you can participate in that when a question pertaining to the subject of your area of expertise comes up, you are top of mind because the wonderful things people are saying about you block the discovery of the sites that cause you harm.

You have the choice. You can be passive and stay in the ‘if you build it they will come’ mode (very similar to the ‘pray and do little if anything’ mode), or you can decide to get systematically active with your marketing communications and realize that every day gives you the opportunity to reach out and answer someone’s question and share the answer so that tens if not hundreds of people see that answer and are presented with a new reason to call on you.

Even one article or post a month, shared on twenty blogs and media sites per month is 240 new incoming links in a year and then you also get the Tweets, FB shout outs, and other social media links that go with those.

So you want to know what to do? Ignore them. Build your platform! Choose to do the things that you need to do to be successful for yourself. Focus on your outreach. What you focus on will get bigger.

If you want to be flying with the eagles, stay away from the turkeys.

Paying for Book Reviews and Sponsored Blog Posts

Paying for Book Reviews and Sponsored Blog Posts

Very interesting article in the NY Times about paying for book reviews.

Paying for Book Reviews http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/business/book-reviewers-for-hire-meet-a-demand-for-online-raves.html?pagewanted=all

or

http://goo.gl/YLCqh

The 331 comments are about as entertaining and interesting to read as the article.

I have watched with interest the growing recent pay for reviews phenomenon.

Personally, I don’t like the idea of paying for reviews, but like it or not people do like to read reviews and comments. Hence book reviews have become an item that people are apparently willing to pay for.

The challenge for authors and publishers is to get noticed in the marketplace. The publicity that reviews can supply is one of the ways they seek to achieve recognition.

The media coverage can be about the book, the author, the issues, the comments, the commenters, or the controversy — it’s whatever gets people interested enough so that they buy the book.

In some cases, it’s the book and the content and the quality that produce the interest.

In other cases, the book may not be all that great of a piece of writing, yet the dialog in the marketplace that is sometimes created becomes a self-sustaining wave that by itself generates a desire in society that needs to be satisfied by curiosity. The presence in media, whether it be prime media or online media doesn’t matter if sufficient people are motivated to click and buy, in hard copy or ebook format.

The reviews – good, bad, indifferent, ethically acquired merit-based, or purchased, and hence allegedly tainted by the financial interest, well, it doesn’t matter if it generates sales.

When I send out news releases in the past year, I’ve watched a new growing trend for media, especially bloggers, to come back with a request for sponsored posts – e.g., pay in exchange for coverage. This is a growing phenomenon. I’ve seen it growing in the mommy bloggers, the fashion bloggers, and in the college online services. We see the fees for paid reviews start at $5 a post to $300 for a product review and more. We’ve seen major TV networks charge $300 for a five to ten minute satellite uplink and even seen some “creative” major network TV shows pitch their services and capabilities to create a show back to use with $5,000 fees for a 30 minute interview that gets aired on prime time TV.

Is it worth it? Maybe. For some.

Does it matter that more and more people are seeking to get paid for their time, their effort, and the coverage they provide?

Media coverage has significant perceived value. This is known. We also know that feature stories tend to be more valuable than reviews. But even reviews have value and get read, forwarded, tweeted, and contribute to the search engine placement of owner sites.

There are objective trusted media (Associated Press and the Voice of America). There are media who express certain bias one way or the other (CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX). There are media you can rely on for certain types of coverage and reporting because of their appeal to their dedicated paying audiences (ESPN, Oxygen, O magazine, Cosmopolitan, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Reader’s Digest) and there’s media who simply report the entertaining or outrageous (The Enquirer, The Star) and the tantalizing and sexy (NY Post, Playboy, Penthouse and more). It may be print, electronic, or it may be online.

Coverage is what everyone is after. Some are obviously willing to pay to be there.

There are ethical (non-paying, objective, honest) reviewers and financially conflicted (paying, inherently-biased, allegedly dishonest) reviewers as well.

Some comply with the FTC disclosure requirements, and many don’t.

Obviously, it’s become a buyer beware marketplace. There is no reliable ever present policeman in the marketplace to protect innocent viewers from those who would take their money despite the FTC’s disclosure requirements.

Some of my clients actually have decided to experiment and pay for the coverage. In some cases the posts can be very useful in terms of the SEO value, since they trigger media coverage online and in social media.

The hits, the traffic, links, tweets, and conversation generated downstream can be significant enough to justify the costs.

But there is no way to predict the break even costs or value.

If you have an expensive product or multiple products or streams of income, then it may be in your favor.

If you are a single ebook author, and it is your first time, well, and need to sell a thousand $.99 books just to break even on your investment then it is a risk that YOU have to determine. It may be a role of the dice. You better think twice and enter the marketplace with your eyes open.

In any case, getting the word out there is something you have to try to do if you are going to seek the financial reimbursement of your time and energy. Being systematic, strategic and taking careful action to reduce your risks and maximize your gain, well that is something I highly recommend you do.

Reach out your target audience and turn them on. You can do this by creating a great book or delivering valuable helpful content. You can do this by doing what you do best or by creating controversy and getting other people to talk about you.

There are lots of reasonable strategies that you can use to trigger the interest that results in sales. You just have to create a good workable plan and schedule, get it going, and learn to do the things that work for you.

I’ve written a few more posts about the paying for book reviews issue. If you are interested in reading more, here’s a link:

http://blog.directcontactpr.com/2010/08/paying-for-book-reviews-is-it-worth-it/

or

http://goo.gl/xUvS0

Kickstarter Success Story

Kickstarter Success Story

One of my newest clients is Ms. Erin Faulk, who just conducted a successful Kickstarter campaign.

She raised more than $24,000 to fund an independent film adventure where she goes cross country, meets, interviews, and films 140 “characters” she only knew previously through Twitter.

The PR campaign resulted in numerous articles and radio and TV interviews which contributed to her going over her $15,000 goal.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1020889969/follow-friday-the-film?ref=category

She did an interview with the Cision Navigator in which she offers tips on building online relationships.

http://blog.us.cision.com/2012/06/building-online-relationships-tips-from-follow-friday-the-film/

Two days ago, icing on the cake. Audi USA donated her the use of a brand new Audi for the 8,000 mile cross country tour.

http://followfridaythefilm.com/

Response to Publicity Doesn’t Work

Response to Publicity Doesn’t Work

Forbes just posted an opinion article “Book Promotion for Self-Publishers

http://www.forbes.com/sites/suwcharmananderson/2012/06/19/book-promotion-for-self-publishers-a-waste-of-time/

Quite a number of authors express great frustration and anguish over the fact that the publicity (book reviews, interviews, feature stories, etc). they received didn’t result in lots of book sales.

In fact several of them conclude that publicity doesn’t work.

OMG, failure certainly speaks louder than success. What a sad perspective.

Their experience with media may be due to a lot of things. But to me what appears to have happened is that whatever the media published certainly didn’t result in them “turning their people on”. I don’t see that as a reason to conclude that “Publicity Doesn’t Work”.

I see that a failure to make effective use of any number of golden media opportunities. Very simply, they didn’t turn people on.

In the middle of February, one of my clients, JJ Smith, did one interview on The Steve Harris Morning Show, and sold over 6,000 books and made it to the top of Amazon’s best seller list ahead of The Hunger Games Trilogy. Sure, it was only for 24 hours or so, but it was a single talk show interview that did it.

One of my favorite authors, Vince Flynn, did an interview with USA Today on Feb 6. He’s a best selling author of 13 books. He was asked three questions, and he spent one to two minutes more or less, answering each question. I was tickled to see how he handled the last question from the USA Today interviewer, one that he apparently had never been asked before – “What is it about your stories that brings the reader in?” BTW, it worked since I ran to the local bookstore and bought a copy.

For those of you who have worked with me, I challenge you with this very same question “what do you do that turns people on?” whenever we seek get media coverage whether it is for a review, a feature story, or an interview.

Think about what happens – just for example, when was the last time you read the newspaper or a magazine or watched TV and grabbed your credit card?

It probably doesn’t happen very often., does it? In today’s world, it may actually happen more often if you read something on a trusted blog or on a friend’s Facebook and they say, “…this is cool. You gotta have it.”

Think carefully about the times that it does happen. How did you feel? Weren’t you amazed, galvanized, and stunned? Wasn’t your attention riveted?

Well, if you want publicity or any other marcom that you create to do that, then you’d better figure out what is happening when it happens to you first. Then you have to learn what you can say and do to make it happen to others.

Realize that if you want to be a successful author you not only have to write a really good book, but when you get in front of media you need to turn your audience on. You have to learn how to do that or else people won’t respond the way you want them to.

Now I’ll share with you something I’ve learned doing publicity for a few tens of years.

I believe that you can learn to do this anywhere. I call this the miracle of the microcosm because I’ve found from working with real people, from all over the country, that it really doesn’t matter where you are. You can learn what to say that turns people on one person at a time. Yes you can.

You just have to keep talking to people and pay attention to what you said when it happens!

You can ask people at a speaking engagement to tell you. You can have a partner watch the audience and take note while you are speaking. You can record your talks and track sales or how many people raise their hand or come up to you after your talk. You’ll find hints in your reviewer comments and testimonials where people tell you why they love what you do.

The miracle is that once you learn the magic words that produce the action you want, you can then you can use all the media and other marcom technologies as a force multiplier to repeat the message and keep reproducing the effect.

In a nation with 330 million people, you have very good reason to focus on that message. Even if you are successful in reaching and converting an itsy bitsy tiny percent, you can be phenomenally successful.

Before you think that doing publicity or any other MarCom (marketing communications) technology is going to help you, you really need to learn what you can say and do that turns your people on. You need to develop a script that produces action.

Can you stand in front of 50 people and talk for three minutes so that half the people come flying out of their chairs and hand you money? That is what you need to be able to do. You need to hit their hot buttons by being the very best you can be. You need to give people a transcendental emotionally engaging experience. Learn how to do this in a small audience and then place that script into your interviews and feature story proposals.

The same is true by the way with social media. The real promise of social media is only achieved when what you’ve done is so good people rave about it to all their friends. If it’s not good enough, it’s just panned.

If you learn how to turn people on, and then use that in your targeted communications so that you help the people you can help the most, you’ll see your success with the media hit maximum levels. This isn’t easy to do. But if you are strategic and test, improve, and prove your communications systematically, it can be done.

Make sure that the content you offer is like candy. Create a recipe that tastes so good that people just can’t get enough of it. and they want the whole bag.

BTW, I’ve create a five minute, self-serve Prezi that describes how to do this process in a highly entertaining and visual way. It’s at my blog – here’s the link:

http://blog.directcontactpr.com/2012/02/getting-the-best-publicity/

Enjoy.

Magic in a Message! Creating the IrresistIble Pitch

Magic in a Message! Creating the IrresistIble Pitch

HOW DO YOU IDENTIFY AND DEVELOP THE IRRESISTIBLE PITCH?

I write a lot of blog posts on this. I call this the miracle of the microcosm.

http://blog.directcontactpr.com/index.php?s=miracle

You need to learn how to turn people on so that they come to you for more of what you are offering.

Perhaps the simplest and most powerful suggestion I can you suggest to you is that you use The 3 I Technique

a. Identify a Success Story
b. Imitate the Success Story
c. Innovate with Your Own Information

http://blog.directcontactpr.com/index.php?s=the+3+I+technique

This is a technique I recommend you experiment with. You can do this with any type of marketing communications. It basically focuses you on identifying a model of success and mimicking it as you create your own message. The idea is simple – follow in the footsteps of someone who is doing things that are successful.

You can use Google news for example on the word “troubleshooting tips” which I did for you here: http://goo.gl/gMO74

There are over 1,000 articles for you to study. Some are news releases, some are articles in newspapers and others are article in magazines and trade publications. Now your goal is to pick ONE! Find one about someone else, that is really interesting and motivates you the way you want to motivate others. This is your model success story.

Then open up your word processing program and start writing. Look at their headline, and then write your own. Then do their first sentence, then write your own. Then do their first paragraph, and write your own. You walk your way all the way through the article to the last sentence.

You may find this to be very mechanical, but guess what, it works. If for example, you use a story in USA Today as your model, and you use this technique, then you create an article that matches readership interest and editorial style on the first try. It looks like it belongs there.

And when you send it to USA Today, you maximize your chances of being successful with them because they tend to recognize when you’ve done your homework. And if it’s good enough for USA Today, then other media will respond to it as well.

Identify the successes of your competition or the authors in your genre. Study what they use to be successful and follow in their footsteps. If you are a story teller, tell stories. If you are a horror writer, scare and horrify people. If you write sci-fi, then talk about the future. Give people and experience. Engage them and let them experience something that is truly emotionally engaging. Don’t be boring. Be stimulating. Choose what you say carefully. Plan it out, test it, select and rehearse, like an actor or an actress on stage.

What you do is you talk about the ideas and concepts in your book and how it affects others. People are really only interested in things that have value to their own lives or others that they care about. That is what you must offer. I have a little poetic like formula which I wrote which describes what you need to do which goes like this:

Tell me a story
give me a local news angle (my audience!)
touch my heart (make me laugh or cry)
teach me something new
astound or amaze me,
make my stomach churn with horror or fear,
hit me in my pocketbook
or turn me on.

And you do this as many times as you can in two to three minutes.

If you study your target media and employ the 3-I technique, you will see that news coverage is largely predictable. Consumers and editors are drawn to types of stories that have worked well in the past. If you want to receive coverage, it’s important that you get familiar with these content patterns and do your best to replicate them.

The reason is simple: media publish what sells. To be in media you have to give them what they publish. Therefore to maximize your chances, you give it to them their way.

Now I’ve been doing this with clients for years and I’ve characterized the many patterns and ways media publish. The following list of most commonly featured content is derived from analyzing successful media coverage of my clients in newspapers, magazines, radio and TV:

1. A dramatic personal story that describes achievement in the face of adversity plus a little humor.

2. A problem-solving-tips article on a timely topic that shows how you can help the people that you can help the most.

3. An innovative product or service that people want because of the remarkable benefits offered.

4. A dramatic and interesting photograph that tells a 1,000-word story at a glance.

5. A new development or situation that affects lots of people in a unique way.

6. A personal battle between the forces of good and evil, or David and Goliath.

7. A truly heartwarming tale with a happy or remarkable ending.

8. New effective techniques or tactics to improving a problem or situation that is commonly faced.

9. New form of creativity that makes people feel good or experience heightened emotions.

10. A story that makes people cringe in fear, howl with delight, or experience intense desire or want.

11. An explanation of a mystery that confounds a lot of people.

12. News, analysis, and commentary on a controversial issue or topic.

13. Localized stories and media access to the local people involved.

14. Innovative and new ways to have fun, save money, help people, increase their enjoyment, protect the environment, and help them get more out of life.

15. Unusual, hot, and wacky ideas, products, activities, and situations.

16. Mouthwatering recipes, food, culinary delights, or opportunities.

17. Educational, unusual, hard-to-believe, never-before-revealed, or fascinating news, data, information, or stories.

18. Record-breaking achievements, competitions, paradoxes, dilemmas, anything that confounds the human spirit.

19. Knowledge, ideas, or information that astounds, enlightens, and inspires people to experience new feelings.

20. Remarkable little things people may not know about, that will make their dreams come true.

This is the way to make use of the miracle of the microcosm. These are weapons of mass persuasion, in part because readers and viewers know the arc of these pieces by heart. This familiarity soothes them and allows them to concentrate on the particulars of your story.

This is how you first develop and prove what you can say that turns people on and gets them to take the action you want, and then use technology as a force multiplier to repeat the message and reproduce the action you want in quantity.

If you follow my advice, please send me what you create. I’d love to see it.

Targeting the Right Media – Best questions and the most efficient process

Targeting the Right Media - Best questions and the most efficient process

How do you find the right media?

First identify your target audience. Who are they? What do they do? How do they buy products like yours? When and how? Where do they get their recommendations? Research and identify what they read, watch and listen to particularly when they are most receptive to a product or service suggestion. You can focus on reaching individuals or utilizing media because of the credibility and audiences they can reach for you. Here’s a checklist of prime media:

Daily and weekly newspapers
Magazine & Trade Publications
News services & syndicates
Radio and TV stations, shows & networks

Then you have the online media:

Blogs
Columnists
News Web Sites
Online Version
Forums
Mailing Lists
Discussion groups
Audio Podcasts/Photo/Video Sharing Sites
Social Networking Sites

While you want to assemble a list of newspapers, magazines, radio stations, TV programs, news services, syndicates, and Internet media that will help you reach your target audience, bear in mind that these aren’t the only places that people congregate. Here’s a list of non-media venues you ought to consider:

Interest Groups
Associations
Clubs
Institutions
Foundations
Support Groups
Churches/Synagogues
Trade shows/conferences

Since I’m a publicist, I use a licensed media database to do this and I create custom lists for client outreach efforts.

But you can scratch the surface yourself using the Internet and make use News Search Engines and searchable free online media directories to search by key word to identify articles and media that you want to contact and pitch your own articles to. You can use the specialized search tools at Facebook, Twitter, and other MEDIA” just as easily and you can develop pitches that are properly formatted and designed to be appropriate for those technologies. The challenge will be reaching enough of them and being persuasive with them so you get your message published in enough places.

Is this all there is? Selling books is a bitch!

Is this all there is? Selling books is a bitch!

I posted this today on the Yahoo Self Publishing group in response to a frustrated author.

Al wrote:

” I wonder if it as simple as perhaps we are not asking people to buy our books? You can get the freebie advertising but it is like throwing chum to fish. You might get their attention but unless you hook them by the lip you are not going to catch any. …[]… Musicians and published authors actually go out and play their music or do book signings. Buddy Holly hated touring (and it killed him) but his record sales needed the public appearances.”

I don’t think asking people to buy your book is simple at all. I don’t think it’s as effective as tantalizing them and persuading them.

Most authors and even most publishers devote very little time and effort into the identification, targeting, messaging, acquisition and activation of buyers for their books. Yet figuring this out is crucial.

Even with the incredible technologies available online, people don’t know how to create the messages and communications that pull people in. Instead, they either do very little (as in, build it and they will come), or they push the product, find out how hard it is, and then give up because so few people buy the book.

You can do a lot with the media and technologies online if you seek to understand how people buy or get engaged with your books, products or services.

1. People discover a need, or want to solve a problem.

2. They begin a search usually online, but it can happen on social media like FB or Twitter or any number of other places (including discussion groups like this one)

3. But they really don’t look very hard. They only pay attention to the first few things they discover or the first few recommendations they get from people they have familiarity with.

4. People also tend to go and hang out where they are invited, accepted, entertained or educated.

Now for every type of book, product or service, there are thus hundreds if not thousands of places to search and become associated with.

But as most people now know, you can’t easily sell product and survive the act of asking. You must provide helpful, non-sales laden information, guidance, education or entertainment with subtle links that lead you back to your site. That’s where the real sales process then begins.

So what do you do?

1. Determine who your audience really is! Identify who your best targeted customers are and then figure out where they hang out. Your goal is to then learn how to be prominent and highly regared wherever they hang out.

2. You need to identify the type of content that will turn them on. Is it action laden excerpts? Is it drama? Is it illustrations, games, videos, or helpful tips?

3. You need to learn how to communicate so that your content works wherever you place it. The post for a blog is not automatically what you place in a tweet. The content and the trail of breadcrumbs has to fit the medium.

4. You need to participate in the communities meaningfully. You answer questions and provide feedback, offer tips, advice, stories, humor, experience and enthusiasm, so that people are inspired and get interested and so that you trigger the action to go to your site to explore your product.

5. You create content that people want to link to, want to share, and want to give to others.

This is what you try to do with media when you do publicity. Only now, EVERYONE is a publisher who is trying to make money off subscriptions and/or advertising.

If you do it reasonably well, you get dozens or articles or posts.

If you do phenomenally well, you go viral.

You don’t just write in a vacuum. You develop, test, deploy, analyze and improve.

My simple acronym for this process is this: CACA

C – Create

A – Ask

C – Create again

A – Ask again

Once you prove the message works in your backyard, only then can and should you use technology to try to repeat the success widely.

Your objective is to keep on placing things before YOUR people so they can decide to participate, play or purchase.

But just realize that this is hard to do. Think about it! When was the last time you read the newspaper, and went and grabbed your credit card.

Yet very often, a single piece of information triggers a desire that brings something to mind that does indeed get you to take action. Then and only then do you search for the contact information, the email, the phone or the order form.

Few authors realize that creating the book is only the beginning. To be successful they have to find satisfaction in connecting with people again and again till they get enough action to pay for their investment in the work they created. It’s not just mechanics and technology.

It’s not just fine art or excellence in creative writing.

There’s persistent, dedicated systematic communication outreach that has to drive people to action.

Success often lives or dies with the close monitoring of the one-to one relationship developed between the author and his or her audience.

That is where the author must determine “what did I do and say that turned you on?”

Learn this and you can use the technologies.

Fail to learn this and nothing happens.

Getting Publicity with Book Awards Update 2012

Getting Publicity with Book Awards Update 2012

For those of you who do get a book award these next few weeks, I thought I’d give you my thoughts and advice on how to make the best use of your award as far as how to get publicity with it. So many people come to me and say how can I leverage this?

First I’d take a quick breather after getting the award and within a day or two sit down and do some quick research to calibrate what you are really trying to accomplish next.

I’ve written all about pay to play book awards like this before. I’ve worked with dozens and dozens of authors who win or are finalists (which in my book means you were one of several considered) in all sorts of categories by all sorts of organizations. My take it or leave it advice is that they rarely mean anything to anybody from a PR standpoint. They may result in a minor amount of media coverage IF you choose to do an outreach promoting yourself as someone who won an award. They may or may not mean anything as regards actual book sales.

Read all you want: http://blog.directcontactpr.com/category/awards/

Realize that media want quality yes, but they want objective proof and not paid praise. With so many book awards being given out by so many organizations every week and with each author paying to be considered, the “objectivity” is seriously in doubt. Look at what the awarding organization is doing. You’ll likely see they are using it as a promotional vehicle for their own purposes. Their business model is usually very clear to see. $75 per book per category times 60 categories. If they get dozens of books in a category and they can get dozens of volunteers to do reviews, they they can do pretty well.

So media tend to play very carefully since if they publish something and they are wrong, then they get hurt in ways they do not like. The key to being successful with media is to give them quality content anyway, and not a medal that says “I came in second place in a pay to participate commercial contest”.

But as I said, the proof is in the pudding. My rule of thumb is simple. If it works, do more of it. If it doesn’t, then do something else.

As Colin Powell said, “Don’t let a little bad data get in the way of a good decision.”

My best suggestion on how to use a book award in your copy writing and news releases is to study what is being published by media and see and learn how the book award information is being used and incorporated into stories. You can do this online by using news search engines.

I just did this for the key words:

“Book Awards”: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&gl=us&tbm=nws&q=book+award&oq=book+award&aq=f&aqi=d2&aql=&gs_l=news-cc.12..43j43i400.22856.26918.0.29259.16.9.3.4.0.0.164.924.6j3.9.0…0.0.

http://goo.gl/mA2yI

There are several interesting things you can learn by studying the results.

1. This is the season! There are lots of little local stories about book award winners.

2. The book award information is in the headline half the time. The book, the author and the importance of the book or the ideas surrounding the book are the lead.

3. Most of the stories being published feature the top award winners. Stories about authors who receive second or third place are much less frequent.

4. The biggest media write articles which feature the books who receive the top national awards in the top national literary contests.

5. The regional and local media writer about the lesser well-know or recognized awards.

You can also do a search on the words “book award nominated”:

book award nominated http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&gl=us&tbm=nws&q=book+award+nominated&oq=book+award+nominated&aq=f&aqi=d2&aql=&gs_l=news-cc.12..43j43i400.1776.6262.0.8576.20.6.0.14.0.0.134.488.5j1.6.0…0.0.

http://goo.gl/UTu3r

Here you’ll pick up a few additional news clips and see that many authors are creating news releases which they submit to several of the online news release distribution services. But most of the articles that you’ll see don’t cover books that are nominated. A few do mention these especially when it is coupled with other newsworthy facts.

One of the more amazing things I learned when I did this search and studied the results is that there are tons of book awards. Just in the top ten pages of these two searches, I was able to make a list of over 50 different individually named book awards in the current window of news coverage (two to three weeks):

Commonwealth Writers Book Award
City of Calgary W. O. Mitchell Award
Next Generation Indie Book Award
Hawaii Book of the Year Award
Nautilus Book Award
USA Book Award
IPPY Book Award
Ben Franklin Book Award
National Book Award
California Book Award
Harvard Book Award
UK Christian Book Award
Grampian Children’s Book Award
BC Award for Best Canadian Non-Fiction Book
BC Award for National Business Book
Children’s Choice Book Award
National Business Book Award
Arizona Book Award
LA Times Book Award
New England Book Award
US National Book Award
Reader Views Book Award
Dartmouth Book Award
Vadaphone Crossword Book Award
McNally Robinson Aboriginal Book Award
Governor’s Literary Book Award
Julia Ward Howe Book Award
National Outdoor Book Award
PEN/Beyond Margins Award
Independent Book Award
Catholic Book Award
Corretta Scott King Book Award
Schneider Book Award (ALA)
Flicker Tale Book Award
Human Rights Book Award
Michigan Notable Book Award
Irish Book Award
International Reader’s Association Book Award
Jane Addam’s Children’s Book Award
Great Lakes Book Award
Saskatewan Book Award
AAPOR Book Award
Christianity Today book Award
American Book Award
Robert F. Kennedy Book Award
Northern Minnesota Book Award
Toronto Book Award
Phi Eta Sigma Book Award
Science Fiction Book Award
Hugo Book Award
Edgar Award
Newberry book Award
Trillium Book Award
Ohioana book Award
Indiana Young Hoosier Book Award
Pushcart Press Editors Book Award

Now multiply by the number of categories, and then by 3 for gold, silver and bronze for the top three prizes in each category, and you’ll get a picture of how many people are getting awards and potentially competing for news coverage using book awards as a factor this week.

If you are going to create a news release and seek publicity for your award, then here my suggestions on the essential facts you need to include in your copy:

1. headline – Author wins prize/award

2. one sentence killer – knock their socks off description of what the book is about

3. unusual or interesting facts about the situation/the book/the author/the topic/the issues

4. the specifics of the award – what, where when, or how much and why is this award so important and prestigious

5. three to four paragraphs about the book, who it features, what’s amazing about it, why people will like it

6. basic book facts and marketing information so people can find it and buy it

7. author bio and information

8. book cover photo and author photo

9. contact information

10. offer for review copy and interviews if you want to offer these items.

Finally, once you have the news release written, it needs to be distributed to the right media. Proper targeting will maximize your chances of getting the right type of coverage in front of the people you can interest and help the most. So a children’s book needs to go to children’s media and editors, and a travel book needs to go to travel book media and editors and so forth.

You’ve worked hard to get this award. So congratulations. I hope this helps you take a few more steps in a positive direction so you can make the most of it.

If you get an award and want my help finalizing your news release and creating the right custom media list and getting the word out, just call me or send me an email with the facts and the book cover jpeg.