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The Blood, Sweat and Tears for Getting Publicity

I’m a publicist who works with lots of authors. I don’t view getting publicity for them different. I treat them the same. The best publicity for sales is galvanizing feature story and interviews. They should have both human interest and be educational. Book reviews sell far fewer books.

This comes from information I give to my clients It was developed to educate them and help them get into the right state of mind to do effective publicity campaign work. The title is:

The Blood, Sweat and Tears for Getting Publicity

To me, getting publicity is like making candy – it’s a tasty recipe backed by art and science, psychology, and specific tactics that come into play. It’s a persuasive communications process that one has to go through. It has a very narrow set of requirements that many people simply do not understand.

The blood sweat and tears of getting publicity is always in the writing of the news release. It contains your pitch. The news release is the crucial document that you create and transmit to media. Then you watch and wait to see what happens. It’s a very important document. Your pitch is basically a proposal. A publishing proposal.

When it’s successful, it can be real magic, like lightning in a bottle.

Phenomenal things can really happen. Careers and fortunes can be created. Millions of people can potentially see your message and be influenced by your writing and thinking.

But if it’s not, very little will happen, in fact, it can be a painful economic and pride felt loss.

The hardest part that I find is that people don’t realize that getting publicity is not like marketing.

When you market, you try to persuade tosell product or services.

When you seek publicity you are talking to a publisher or a producer and asking them to publish what you wrote, or write about what you say or do.

When you write a news release you are in effect you are communicating a very specific message:

‘esteemed and honored fellow publisher (or producer or host), please give me
space in your publication (or on your show).’

This distinctive purpose of this message is one of the most difficult things I have to teach and get people to understand when I work with clients. Many an otherwise brilliant and successful author, marketer and promoter has great difficulty with this concept. Basically they write an ad and expect
media to publish it. They are terribly surprised and hurt when it gets rejected. In fact, their failure at this point often times results in them ceasing the whole writing and creative or business development process. How tragic to come so far and then stop over the failure to be successful at
this point.

So heed the words of this publicist, and I truly believe if you grok this deeply, you’ll reduce the pain you go through as you learn what it takes to get publicity. It will make both our lives a lot easier. You’ll create better more newsworthy information, it will take less time to write a good news release, you’ll get more publicity when you do send it out, and I’ll get to spend more time fishing.

So here goes. I’ll share with you what I know.

First, understand that media are generally averse to giving anyone free advertising. They charge for advertising. That’s how they make their money.

So if when you write a news release and are perceived as asking for free advertising, for a commercial enterprise, the likely outcome is a call or email from the sales advertising manager at the media. So please do not be surprised if and when this happens.

Second, media only publish three basic things:

News
Entertainment
Education

That’s it. There is no more, except for the paid advertising that is.

Don’t believe me? Look at any media publication. Look at a newspaper, look at a magazine. Identify what you see. Do this article by article. Analyze the media. Learn and try to grasp what they do. Pick up any publication and classify every inch of space into one of these four classifications: news, entertainment, education, or paid advertising. Prove it to yourself.

Do you get this yet?

And realize that if you want to be published, this is what you need to give the media people you are pitching to and be quick about it.

Part 2

Now there’s a special psychology you need to really get down about what you are doing when you pitch to a media person.

The real key is to give media what they want. The hard part is in figuring out what that is. It’s crucial to remember we are writing to a publisher and asking for them to publish something about our topic, featuring us. BTW, if you do a good job on the news release, you’ll get some media responses even if you use the free services. But you’ll get greater penetration and quantity and quality response with services that send to custom targeted media lists matched to the message.

There are lots of issues that enter into a media decision to respond to a news release favorably: content, timeliness, quality of thinking, how many people in the audience will be interested, what’s in it for the audience, cost and effort needed to use it, prior and competing coverage of the topic,
downstream issues, and the likely audience response.

These are among the many factors that go through an editor’s or a producer’s mind. You find this out when you speak to them, and also when you watch what they select, and of course, by what they publish every day. In fact, this is the greatest source of guidance you can find, and it’s available to you everyday.

What I find is that very simply, if they see what they like, they use it. They may not use all of it, and they may change it, but it gets some coverage if it fits their readership and editorial needs. Media people make decisions based on how it will likely affect their bottom line, which is revenue based on subscriptions, advertising, and market share.

To you and me, it’s a gauntlet of sorts, and we try our best to learn, create appropriate material, present it as best we can, and act persuasively.

Once you understand this psychology and positioning, then you can get to work, and it’s really not that hard.

So how do you decide what do you put into a news release so that you maximize your publishing success?

Here are the basics.

Do you want to see your media response improve dramatically? Send a news release that pushes the media’s hot buttons. I’ve developed a little set of criteria from having sent out thousands of news releases for clients over the past two decades, and the common set of factors that produce the maximum success.

Here’s what you need to do:

Tell me story (a short, bed time story), give me a local news angle (of interest to my particular audience), hit me in the pocket book (make me or save me money), teach me something I didn’t know before (educate me), amaze me or astound me (like in WOW!), make my stomach churn (in horror or fear), or turn me on (yes, sex sizzles).

Your news release needs to do this in 30 seconds or less.

Let’s look at it again from a slightly different perspective.

I’ve studied what the media actually publish for decades now and I believe you can boil it all down to one simple formula. Look at almost every article in USA Today or any other newspaper or magazine or any TV show and try to identify the common key elements that pop out at you. You’ll see it immediately once I tell it to you.

Here it is:

DPAA+H

These letters stand for “Dramatic Personal Achievement in the Face of Adversity plus a little Humor.”

If you look at almost every media around you, from the front page of USA Today to the Olympics to the evening news to the sitcoms on TV, you’ll see this is what the American public wants, desires, and craves.

DPAA+H

As a culture, we crave to see the human spirit triumph in matters of the heart, and in trials of hardship and tragedy. We ask to be uplifted right out of the humdrum of our everyday reality into the exhilaration and extreme emotional states of those who are living life on the edge.

It galvanizes our attention. It rivets us to our seats. It captures our attention and our hearts.

It drives us to pay for newspaper subscriptions, to movie theaters for entertainment, to rent videos for fun or education, to bookstores for a good read. This is what energizes and drives the very core of numerous key economic systems and is what creates and maintains the very infrastructure
of the publishing, news, and entertainment industries.

And this is what the media seeks to provide. This is what works. Human interest stores with

DPAA+H

You will see these elements everywhere you look in varying degrees. It is a rare media feature that doesn’t contain most of these items. The media uses technology to increase the assault on our senses, enhance the effect, and make our experience ever more compelling and memorable.

And if you are writing a news release to get publicity for yourself or for a client, what you have to do to maximize your chances is recognize this desire and need, and then cater to it as best you can.

If you want to put your best foot forward and take a crack at writing a news release that does this, here is what I suggest:

For any particular publicity project you have in mind, study your target publications (the ones you really want to be in), identify articles that you want to achieve similar success, review prior and existing media coverage of your subject, and then make a list of the top ten things (ideas and actions) that you can write or talk about.

You can use News Search Engines (e.g., Google News) to evaluate media coverage of your topic and to identify articles that you can use as models. Then you can actually put pen to paper.

My 3 I technique is really useful at this point. Identify your success story, Imitate What You See, Innovate with your own information.

Just remember – you need to hit people’s hot buttons and galvanize attention. To do this you need to focus on developing some very special ideas.

One of the most successful types of news releases to use is the problem solving tips article or advice article or entertainment article.

Pretend that you are going to speak to 20 people and you wanted to inspire, motivate and impress the hell out of them, but only had exactly three minutes.

What are the very best eight to ten pieces of advice would you give them?

You must identify the topic that will interest the maximum number of people.

You must also then present the very best advice or analysis and recommendations, best stories, best insights, or best humor you are capable of to address the problem or the subject you identified. These must be ideas or actions they can take or implement that will produce highly desirable benefits in their life right now.

The reason is that these ideas are just like candy. Candy produces such pleasurable sensations that it results in chemical memory. People always remember where they got good candy. And that’s what you need to make. Good intellectual property candy.

The goal here is to galvanize them into action, so that when you are done, they jump up and open their wallets, and hand you their business card, and say “call me, I need your services”.

It is not just to sell your book. It is to sell people on YOU. You are the candy. It is professional branding at it’s best that we seek here, so that people are so enamored with you that they buy everything you have available for sale.

So if you’ve done your homework, and studied what your target media are publishing, you’ll see that this is what is being published day in day out in media of all types.

It is also a pathway that you can probably follow pretty easily if you set your mind to it.

So think about this relatively easy assignment and then start writing. If you do this, I’d like to see what you create. You can send it to me anytime and I’ll be happy to give you comments and recommendations on what to do with it to help you get to where you want to be.

Just remember this: If you give the media what they really want, they’ll give you what you want – free publicity.

Evaluating Your Media Coverage – Online Clipping with Search Engines

Evaluating Your Media Coverage - Online Clipping with Search Engines

Evaluating Your Media Coverage – Online Clipping with Search Engines

There are several ways to search and find media coverage without spending money on clipping service. All you have to do is use the right keywords and search in the right places. You can discover many, if not most, of the media coverage you get from your campaigns within a week of your outreach.

There are several types of search engines you can use – all of these are free. There are more search engines out there and this list will always change over time. These are the ones that I use on a regular basis.

Search by using a persons’ name, their book, product or whatever keyword you want to focus on. To keep your results narrow and focused, place “quotation marks” around your search words.

If you want to evaluate media coverage, focus on the keywords that you are researching and study what is being published, by whom, and what the article or interviews says.

    Regular (Web) Search Engines

Google

Yahoo

Bing

Ask

    News Search Engines

Google News

Yahoo News

Bing News

Ask News

Topix


    Blog Search Engines

Google blogsearch

Yahoo searchblog

Blogdigger

Blogsearchengine

Technorati

    Media Search Engines

Reuters

USA Today

The New York Times

Washington Post

LA Times

Boston Globe


    Social Search Engines

TalkWalker Alerts

Social Mention

Tumblr.com

Facebook

LinkedIn

Twitter

Topsy

Scour

Pipl

Zoominfo

MyLife

Peek You

22 Questions for Writers, Authors, Publishers & Artists to Use to Get More Publicity

22 Questions for Writers, Authors, Publishers & Artists to Use to Get More Publicity

22 Questions for Writers, Authors, Publishers & Artists to Use to Get More Publicity

Every author needs one core set of quality content that’s entertaining, educational and sheds light on your personality and the unique things you bring to your writing and the value it has for people all make for a good recipe for author success with the media.

Each of these questions below was selected because they were used in interviews of bestselling authors and talented creative people time and again in publications like the NY Times, USA Today, NPR and PBS. These are the questions that the media ask these people.

The key is to realize that the subjective answer is not really what the media and the public are looking for. They seek to relate and understand how the creator’s experience, perspective and creative work has special meaning to them personally.

So when you answer these questions, seek to give the gift of understanding. Offer people a taste that so powerful they experience something: a laugh, a cringe, a shiver or a chill, or a blinding momentary flash of desire. Create a trail of candy that leads people to the conclusion they want and need the whole bag.

What can you talk about that’s interesting and invites people to learn more about you and your art? Pick out five to seven of the questions below and develop answers of two to three sentences in length. These become the key content you can then use in your news releases and articles and interview Q & A’s for your media outreach.

One important suggestion: don’t go for the low hanging fruit – the easy to answer questions. Go for the questions with information that you’ve learned to use to turn your people on the most – even if the answers are more difficult to develop and are scarier for you to share.

1. Describe your book/product in 50 words or less:

2. How did your book/product come about?

3. Can you tell us about the story and a bit about the main characters?

4. What has been your experience with (the subject of your book/product)

5. How does it relate to what happens in your story?

6. What are some of the rules or prejudices you’d like to see changed about (your subject)?

7. How did you do your background research?

8. Where do you research information for your books/products ?

9. How has the community responded to your work?

10. How did your work on this get started? Where do your characters come from?

11. What can you say about (aspect of writing/creativity) and what it plays in your work?

12. What do you find to be most exciting about (name the issue)?

13. How did you get your start in writing/art? What, if anything, lit the “spark” to get you started and keep you motivated?

14. What are you currently working on?

15. What are your favorite and least favorite things about being a writer/artist?

16. What do you do in your spare time, when you aren’t writing/creating?

17. What was the last book you read and would you recommend it?

18. How have the books you’ve read influenced the books you write/create?

19. What do you do when you’re having writer’s block to “shake” it off?

20. Have you ever had to overcome real tragedy or hardship in your life?

21. What makes a good (type of book, e.g., thriller?)

22. What do you enjoy more, writing or discovering other people’s work?

If you write 50 to 100 word answers to these questions you can then offer them to media as a news release, feature story content about your book/work, an email questionnaire for bloggers, interview article, and Q & A’s for a radio or TV talk show interview.

Send these to me. I’ll help you turn these into Q & A’s that really turn media and their audiences on.

Free pdf file download:

http://www.directcontactpr.com/files/files/22questionsfor.pdf

Target your media carefully or fail to even hit the right people

So many media! What’s a person to do? Who is going to read your news release? How do you close the deal?

Target your media carefully, based the following criteria:

1. What are you trying to achieve with the media? Most people can benefit from feature stories, interviews, and products reviews, in that order. Some people want incoming links along with the content that drives SEO. What do you want?

2. Who can do that for you? Identify the right people by keyword and geography, by beat and area of authority or responsibility.

3. Can you supply them with the content or people they need to do their job directly? Can you send it to them electronically? Can you deliver it by mail? In person? Do they need to send a camera crew? Your chances for success go up if the delivery is fast and if the cost they incur is low. The slower the delivery and the higher the costs, the less likely you are to succeed in doing at needs to be one to get real media coverage.

4. How effectively can you reach them to engage in a meaningful communication about your proposal? Can you reach them directly by email and phone? By fax? By street mail? Only by appointment? Are they well protected by secretaries or administrative assistants? Are you using an online a post and pray news release distribution method where the only chance of being discovered is if someone in your target media trips over you having done a keyword search? Reaching media by phone, email and street mail is the best way to make a direct connection.

Lots of people get all of these wrong.

You can watch your media success improve dramatically when you treat media people with respect by targeting media carefully. Make sure you offer and can deliver:

1. Galvanizing news, education or entertainment that is designed to interest lots of people in the selected media audience

2. Tangible real value. Help the people you can help the most.

3. Easy access to the information, graphics, technology and the people that the media need to do their job the way you want it done, and by covering the travel costs for the delivery if needed.

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.

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.

Vince Flynn Interview in USA Today

Vince Flynn Interview in USA Today

One of the best tactics I recommend to people is that they create Google News Alerts on their favorite authors and study the media coverage they get. That’s how I discovered this one.

If you write thrillers (or even if you don’t) you cannot afford to miss this incredible interview with author Vince Flynn in the Feb 6 USA Today book section.

http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/news/story/2012-02-06/vince-flynn-books/52979550/1
or http://goo.gl/G25M6

His advice to writers is great and from a PR perspective, I feel that his performance in the interview was excellent. It’s worth studying a master at work. He’s written 13 best sellers.

Here is one of the best examples about how to be educational, engaging and galvanizing I’ve seen by any author.

The interview is three minutes and forty-five seconds. I not only learned something, but was truly impressed with his knowledge, personality, depth of conviction and his enthusiasm for what he is doing.

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 a question from the USA Today interviewer, that he apparently had never been asked before – “What is it about your stories that brings the reader in?”

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.

His answer and what he says about successful writing is worth studying carefully.

This is a great example for aspiring authors, not only about how to write a good book, but how to do an excellent media interview.

It worked, too. I went to Costco and bought the book Kill Shot.

Dealing with Media Rejection – How to Turn a No Into a Yes

How to turn a rejection from media into an acceptance and feature story media coverage

OK, you send out a news release.

You asked for a review, a feature story or an interview. You gave them options, incentives, access to data, photos, people.

They said NO! Is it all over? Is that all there is? Has the door to opportunity slammed in your face?

I don’t think so.

No rarely means No. It usually means not now. It means maybe later.

But it is up to you to figure out what do do.

And what you do is simple: You make another proposal. You offer to send another idea. You say, how about i call you back in two hours (after your deadline has passed).

Always pitch back another idea for something else. Never let the conversation stop. Take the action and get them to say yes to something that keeps the conversation going.

Media people have a job to do. Maybe your proposed idea just didn’t fit in with their needs or maybe they think it will take more time and effort than they can give. As them “Is there something I/We can do to make this more attractive? Is there more information we can send to you.”

If they still say no, ask them “How about something totally different? What about this idea instead?”

Ask them “What would you like to see us present to you?”

Find out what the media wants. Then give them what they need and make it easy for them to work with you.

That’s how you’ll get respect from media for being a valued contributor and a working professional they can trust and rely upon to help them do their job.

That’s how you’ll close more deals and get more of what you want, too.

Seth Godin’s advice on how to be interviewed

Seth Godin's advice on how to be interviewed

I’m a big fan of Seth Godin. I have all his books and am still astounded that he can be such an effervescent source of creative original ideas.

This entry is from his blog from May 31, 2011 on:

How to Be Interviewed.

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2011/05/how-to-be-interviewed.html

If you are going to be interviewed by the media, this is very good material to review as you prepare to do your interview.

Quick advice for experts and professionals on how to maximize publicity and media coverage

Quick advice for experts and professionals on how to maximize publicity and media coverage

You are a natural problem solver filled with good advice.

This is the core approach you need to take when branding and promoting. You simply need to decide to help the people you can help the most, with each and every bit of outreach that you do.

Select the biggest upcoming problem that’s on the horizon and then solve it, offering an article and interviews.

This is what will carry you forward and propel media coverage. It will also carry your books, products and services along with it.

Make sure that the content you offer is like candy. It tastes so good that people want the whole bag.

Bet you can’t eat one!