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Publicity Planner for 2017

2017 Publicity Planner 010717 original

Every year I create a specially designed, carefully constructed, forward-looking publicity calendar to help identify opportunities for media coverage.

I make this available to people in a free pdf file download. Here’s the link:

2016 Publicity Plan

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

Use this calendar to plan your publicity and promotional outreach activities for the next year. Plan carefully and strategically. Offer people the best news, best entertainment, and the best education you possibly can.

Help the people you can help the most.

If you know someone else who can benefit from this calendar, share this link freely.

Paul J. Krupin, Search Word Pro & Direct Contact PR
www.DirectContactPR.com www.SearchWordPro.com
Paul@DirectContactPR.com Blog.DirectContactPR.com
509-531-8390 (Cell) 509-582-5174 (Direct) Call or Write Anytime

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.

Is this really it? The Miracle of the Microcosm

One of the Yahoo Self Publishing Group members posted two really important questions… about how to do targeted PR:

1) HOW do you find those people?
2) WHAT comprises that irresistible message?

I do this for a living for clients in all sorts of genres and industries. Here goes:

1) How do you find the right people?

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 called Cision 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.

2) To identify THE IRRESISTABLE MESSAGE

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 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.

Hope this helps,

Paul J. Krupin, Direct Contact PR

Getting your articles syndicated is challenging but worth it

Getting your articles syndicated is challenging but worth it

I’ve worked on syndication strategies for a number of authors with the designed intent on increasing newspaper and magazine coverage as a means to achieving the platform and name recognition necessary to command a spot at major syndicates like Creators. It’s very difficult to be successful unless you commit to growing your devoted fan base audience and network over a long period of time. The competition is cutthroat. The demands are incredible.

The plan very simply, you create a pitch that offers a formatted ready for publication column designed for cut and paste utilization and you pitch it out there to your target media with four or five additional installments.

You tell the media, try it for free, and if you like it (e.g., the feedback they get helps them sell more subscriptions), then maybe they will buy what you offer on a regular basis. You must be prepared to sell each column cheap $1 to $5 a week for newspapers) and you raise your prices to whatever your market can handle. So $5 a week from each of 100 newspapers is $500 a week. 200 newspapers is $1000 a week. Sounds easy? It’s not.

We have been only semi-successful at this for most people who have tried it. Media actually tell us, “why should we pay you when we have so many people offering to do this for free?” The answer has to be “Quality and Sales” and you have to prove it quick and keep on proving it or they stop paying you.

Sometimes, we pitch single articles and get offered a regular column. Does it pay enough to justify the effort? It depends. Can you syndicate from a single position? Yes. Look at Dave Barry. His humor posts from the Miami Herald were syndicated nationwide.

Can you write something that turns people on like Dave Barry does? Prove it.

Of course, nowadays there are content mills out there that will take contributions from *anyone* who wants to give away content. It helps them grow, but the benefits to the author are often very low, even non-existent. Even a regular contributor position on the famed Huffington Post doesn’t automatically mean that much any more.

The ROI of course really depends on the person and whether the writing produces the interest and conversion to sales. People with expensive or multiple books, products or services income streams have an easier time achieving a break even plus. The ROI (return on investment) and ROTI (return on time invested), is worth it when you make more money off very few sales.

You have to test and pitch and improve and test and pitch again and again and again and again. 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

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.

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 incredible array of media technologies.

Fail to learn this and nothing happens.

Just remember triumph is TRI with UMPH added.

Publicity Planner for 2014

Publicity Planner for 2014 - a forward-looking publicity calendar to help identify opportunities for media coverage and publicity

Every year I create a forward-looking publicity calendar to help identify opportunities for people 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’s the links to the Publicity Planner for 2014:

http://www.directcontactpr.com/files/files/publicitycalendar2014.pdf (full color)

http://www.directcontactpr.com/files/files/2014PublicitycalendarBW.pdf (light color version for printing)

Share freely. Happy Holidays everyone! Stay safe. Enjoy!

Google Changes to the World of News Release Distribution

Discusses the latest Google algorithm changes and how the impacts on news release distribution

Google Changes to the World of News Release Distribution

For many years now marketing practitioners have been advocating people use news releases to improve their placement on search engines. The theory was that you could write and post a news release at a web distribution service and the optimized use of keywords and the links included in the release would result in oodles of incoming links all of which would help capture people’s attention and increase your page ranking on search engines as a result.

Google has decided to clean up the search results and do what it can to rid organic results of press release content that is really not bona fide news, but are instead, paid advertising in disguise. The requirements also have significance to sites that rely heavily on user-generated content.

The latest Google algorithm changes, known as Penguin 2.0, modifies how Google analyzes the role and utility of news releases posted at news release distribution services in a very significant way. The changes, adopted in late July 2013, include the following:

1. Press releases will be treated as paid placement by Google.

2. Optimized anchor text links in a press release distribution post will be considered as “unnatural” and will not be used in Google PageRank search result calculations.

3. Google now requires news release distribution services to add a “no follow” code attribute to all their outbound links in the news releases they post.

What this means is that if you now do a search for keywords on Google or Google News, your will now notice the near total absence of news releases, which used to account for fifty percent of more of what was the search engines produced in the top ten pages. No more. What is now delivered are articles from real media – newspapers, magazines, radio, tv, selected news services & syndicates, and the online versions, news web sites, and certain blogs.

The Google “no follow” and “anchored text” policies apply to”webmasters and directly impact services such as PR Web, Businesswire, PR Newswire, Send2Press, WebWire, MarketWire, OnlinePR Media, eReleases, and many more of the sites who used to be able to get top placement with their posted and archived news releases.

No more. Google has declared those days are over. The new moves by Google places the highest value on unique, quality content at real media sites.

The new search engine results highlight real media and focus on “earned media” and not subsidized links designed to simply weight and manipulate search engine results.

Google is also on the lookout to reduce the impact of large scale guest post activities and advertorials.

For several years now, SEO placement was driven by the use of “unnatural” backlinks and the heavy handed use of keywords in news releases. A variety of “black hat” SEO practices have been developed and used to push page placement. This will no longer be a viable strategy for businesses to utilize if they seek to improve their SEO ranking and the traffic they receive.

Natural links, directly to quality core content, expert or a company web site, are still acceptable.

What this means to publicity seekers is that a news release should not be written with the purpose of producing a sale directly. The news release should also not be written as an advertorial, or an infomercial.

The best view is that a news release is a pitch to a publisher (=media) to get them do publish or produce a story in the medium they utilize.

A news release, or a press release, is therefore a media proposal — a purpose driven communication that is delivered to media, or placed where they can find it, and which invites the media to do a feature story, an interview or a review (in the case of a book or product), and which contains an offer or the actual content and access to the people, needed to do that job.

So if you want real media coverage, write a news release that is truly designed to get you quality media coverage and send it to the right media. Instead of a post and pray web service. Then target your media carefully and send it to the right media directly. Reach out and contact real media people and offer them everything they need to do their job your way.

Help the people that you can help the most. The latest change means that quality content matters now more than ever before.

Good problem solving advice, news, value-added commentary, noteworthy public events, innovative products, quality books, and the best entertainment will get higher search engine placement, and hence command more value in the eyes of the searching public. Earned media coverage acquired by using targeted PR tactics and strategies will be one of the primary vehicles for gaining that status.

For additional reading:

Yahoo Small Business Advisor article Sept 1, 2013
http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/advisor/press-release-writing-since-google-penguin-2-0-235044581.html

Forbes magazine article by Cheryl Conner, August 28, 2013
http://www.forbes.com/sites/cherylsnappconner/2013/08/28/do-press-releases-still-matter-yes-but-not-like-you-think/

Search Engine Watch articles by Lisa Buyer August 9, 2013
http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2287902/12-Ways-to-Optimize-Press-Releases-Avoid-Google-Penalties

Search Engine Land article by Barry Schwarz July 30, 2013
http://searchengineland.com/google-links-in-a-press-release-should-be-nofollowed-like-advertisements-168339

Search Engine Roundtable article by Barry Schwarz July 30, 2013
http://www.seroundtable.com/google-press-releases-nofollow-17151.html

Search Engine Watch article by Lisa Buyer July 26, 2013
http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2194404/Can-the-SEO-PR-Love-Affair-Survive-After-Panda-Penguin

Search Engine Land article by Barry Schwarz July 26, 2013
http://searchengineland.com/google-adds-large-scale-guest-posting-advertorials-optimized-anchor-text-to-list-of-link-schemes-168082

Search Engine Land article by Barry Schwarz July 9, 2013
http://searchengineland.com/google-guest-blogging-for-links-you-better-nofollow-those-links-166218

Search Engine Watch – #nofollow
http://searchenginewatch.com/topic/nofollow

Is it worth it to hire a publicist?

Is it worth it to hire a publicist?

One of the participants on the Yahoo Self-Publishing list wrote:

>>”I can only imagine how much money a new author of a self-published book will waste by hiring a publicist. How about some free marketing help? …{self-promotion}… Although they’ll be happy to take your money, don’t think for a minute that paying a publicist will increase your chances of getting on Oprah :-)”
>>

Here is my response:

Wow. I guess failure speaks louder than success.

I am an author and a long time publicist and I’ve worked with several thousand clients over the past 20 years. It does sort of astound me to hear you say that doing it yourself is the same as hiring a professional. The amount of (that is, the lack of) experience and personal knowledge I see you expressing here does not appear to make one particularly well qualified to suggest that others will automatically experience the same as you. Would you say the same thing about repairing your car or doing your own plumbing? How about medical procedures. Does reading free articles on Web MD qualify you to do surgery?

So I’ll respectfully disagree with your recommendation and explain why.

I’m a publicist and do a lot of work with authors and publishing companies. I’m going to re-phrase your comments into a question:

“Is it worth it to hire a publicist?”

My response: It depends.

I don’t really ascribe to the amount of money invested in the book as a decision factor. The money isn’t what matters. Lots of my clients have turned books that they write with blood, sweat and tears into financial success using POD. Very simply they write a good book and print on demand in small quantity. The amount of money invested in the book does not have to be considerable. The quality of the book just has to be what is expected in the marketplace by the consumers. Of course if you have invested a lot of money, then it begins to acquire the characteristics of a publish or perish syndrome. The stakes go up with the investment.

I’ll be honest with you. I see lots of one-book authors try to turn a profit from publishing. I see only a few succeed. I see lots try very hard and fail. So to me, self-publishing is best viewed as a risk venture. There are so many variables. Publicity can jumpstart marketing and help you create a publishing business but there is no guarantee that it will.

For the sake of argument, let’s just assume that the owner of some intellectual property can reasonably benefit from using publicity to achieve their goals. In other words, there’s a quality product or service that we can work with and a market that can be reached using media.

To me, publicity is one type of marketing or promotion and it has a cost. And to really understand what we’re talking about, it’s crucial to get on the same page. So here’s my definition of what one typically asks a publicist to do:

PR: the creation and presentation of proposed content to media (publishers or producers) to persuade them to publish or showcase a story or information that is perceived as objectively reported by their audiences, that creates interest, desire and promotes and triggers desired action (sales, votes or social action).

The question is whether the cost you invest can produce the actions you want to achieve whether it be sales, votes, or social action such as human support, financial or material donation, or attendance at a show or an event.

The goal is to have a meaningful communication with the right real people on the receiving end. The message is matters, the medium matters, and the effect matters. The real value to the recipient is what determines whether they in fact are affected to the point of action. You can’t use any communication technology to trigger or motivate action without figuring out the magic words first. Can you do this yourself or do you need to have a professional publicist help you?

The cost of a publicist covers the actions needed to produce the results you want. There are lots of options for someone who needs publicity to consider from doing it yourself all the way to simply hiring someone to do it all for you. The choices range in cost from as low as the cost of acquiring a custom database all the way to hiring a full service PR, firm, or a pay-for-performance firm, all the way to hiring an in-house publicist.

Now I operate a task based service that allows people to select and deploy the simplest and most intelligent actions. For most authors and publishers this is a one-time project that involves identifying the target audience, figuring out how to galvanize them, crafting one or more news releases, creating the right custom media list to present this message to the maximum number of right people, sending them any and all additional materials the media then needs to do their job, and then calling them to persuade media who have not decided to do what you are hoping for to try to persuade them to give you the publicity and media coverage you seek.

Other publicists and PR firms do similar actions and charge more and less to do these things. But there are many different types of fee arrangements by which can acquire publicity services. There are now people and firms you can hire by retainer, by the project, by the hour, by the task, and there’s also pay for performance. You should study the differences when you make your decision and do so recognizing specifically what you will get for the money you pay.

Here’s a link to an article I wrote titled “Evaluating the Range of Publicity Tactics and Publicity Options”
http://www.directcontactpr.com/free-articles/article.src?ID=41

Here’s a second article that talks about how to get the most out of whichever type of publicity service you choose titled “Super Client! Getting the Most Out of Your Publicists and Copywriters”.
http://www.directcontactpr.com/free-articles/article.src?ID=42

You can choose to manage your promotions to achieve many different types of results.

There is no simple answer. There are costs (money, time, and material resources for the data needed and the technology needed) to achieve publicity success.

There is also expertise and technology required (copywriting, targeting the right media, utilizing the best technologies, communicating with clients and media, negotiating, reporting, integrating with marketing and other people and publicists who are involved).

It’s important to recognize that it takes skill, capability and time to do these things well. Plans have to be created, actions need to be systematically taken, and follow up actions must be completed to close each and every deal.

These are some of the issues you need to address and factor in to the decision one makes.

The original question asks “is it worth it to hire a publicist?”

The return on investment question can be answered by evaluating the profit one makes per action triggered by your publicity effort. Let’s look at some of the costs and what it means to an author/publisher.

If one makes $5 per book, then it takes 100 books to cover a $500 cost for a single news release publicity project.

You’d have to sell 2,000 books to cover a $10,000 fee for a full service PR firm or personal publicist for some dedicated time or program.

If on the other hand if you are not just an author, but also receive $3000 for a speaking engagement plus travel and per diem, then you can make $2500 or more if you even get one speaking engagement off one $500 news release outreach.

If you worked with the $10,000 PR firm, you’d nearly break even if you got three engagements and you’d make a couple of thousand with four.

Will the $10,000 firm produce more than the $500 outreach effort? This depends on what is really being done to get media coverage. It depends on the message and who gets to receive it.

There are at least five key measurement points you should use to determine your level of satisfaction with the effectiveness of your publicity efforts.

1. The first point is when you transmit a news release or conduct an outreach effort. Do you feel like the costs of performing the publicity outreach are reasonable? Do you feel like the service has been responsive to your needs?

2. The second point is immediately after the outreach is conducted and you can identify the number and quality of the media responses to your outreach.

3. The third point is when articles are actually published or when your interviews have been conducted.

4. The fourth point is when you determine whether enough of the right people respond to your message.

5. The fifth and final point is sometime later still, when you are finally able to somehow determine the overall benefits of your outreach effort and experience.

It is only now you can truly ask “Was it worth it?”

Here is a link to an article I wrote which discusses this aspect of publicity in more detail titled “Tracking Your Publicity Success and PR Effectiveness” http://www.directcontactpr.com/free-articles/article.src?ID=14

What this means of course is that publicity is more valuable when someone has multiple streams of income that can be leveraged and the branding effect triggers interest and sales in many ways. This frees people from strictly focusing solely on their product and allows them to shine again and again by helping people they can help the most in ways that really turn people on. This is how you not only trigger real interest, but trigger trust and action. This is the professional branding effect and when it works, people like what you say so much that they will buy everything you have for sale.

This is what you hope for when you hire a publicist.

So is it worth it to hire a publicist?

It depends on whether you can do what needs to be done by yourself or with the right type of help. It depends on the results you achieve when you do these things.

The one thing you really need to realize is that even if one hires a publicist, there’s still no guarantee that publicity will produce sales. All you can do is try.

And like any other marketing tactic you should really evaluate the effectiveness as a business using objective measures. Look at all the factors and make an informed decision.

If it works, do more of it, and if it doesn’t stop and do something else.

The only thing that is certain is that if you do not reach out to people somehow, nothing will happen.

Hope this all helps. Questions? Feel free.

And BTW, Oprah doesn’t have a show any more. She has a multimedia network with lots of shows and a magazine.

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

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.

Targeted Publicity Program for a History Book

Targeted Publicity Program for a History Book

A Publish-L list member, wrote:

In November, I published a 400-page (20 in color) hardbound reference book with dust jacket about a particular regiment during the Civil War. It is the first of four books planned about the regiment. It is in pdf format without an ISBN. Although I’ve sold 300 copies locally (at $30 each), I’ve probably exhausted my available client list and would like to be able to offer it online in some format.

What should be my next step?

I’ve worked with a few authors and publishers of history, military, and civil war books so I’ll offer up some strategy and ideas from a book publicity standpoint. At the end I’ll point you in the direction of taking the same outreach communications and aiming at the “interest groups” you can reach directly using a similar but adapted approach. Here goes:

You can seek book reviews in certain media categories, but I believe this is one of those cases where feature stories filled with anecdotes, factual data, interesting information, and photos (hopefully some are available), will enable you to convey some portion of what the books offer so that you can make a truly favorable impression with the best galvanizing content.

There are several ways to target the different pools of media who we have seen respond with interest to books like this. I’m using the online Cision database which covers the US and Canada to provide the following information:

First there is the history media, with two key subcategories, national history and local history. I just created a custom media list and while it is not a big pool of media (770 media in the raw data Cision search but when I take out the empty & duplicate emails there are 646 media left) the people who cover this topic do have avid readers. I saved this list and will send it to you so you can see who is on this list. In the local history category, you will have to hand select media that align with the geography of the book and the people in the regiment.

Second there is the military media. The Cision count shows over 700 media (before cleaning) that cover this topic. There are military history buffs and depending on the stories you tell, you can get different types of military editors interested. There are several military subcategories including military lifestyle, Armed Forces, and other specialized categories. I’d recommend you study how a few of these media do military history feature stories first, and then use my 3 I technique to create a story pitch that looks like it belongs inside your target media.

Third, you can target media geographically and seek local feature stories based on the locations covered in the books, where the events covered by the book took place, and where the families of the people resided at the time.

Fourth, you could offer this out to all the non-fiction and general book reviewers. My latest database count from Cision for the categories of books, book reviews, authors, fiction, non-fiction, literature, and writing identifies over 3,300 media listings (before cleaning)..

Fifth, you could send an interview pitch to the NPR and PBS stations and shows. I’d recommend this go nationwide, but again, I would expect the media in the geographic areas covered to express the most interest, depending on how you spun the stories. To get to the national level, you would need to offer information and insights that have national implications, especially as regards what we see in our lives today, which is a consequence of what you write about. There are about 1,100 NPR radio station media and 800 PBS outlets.

Sixth, if there is ethnic or multicultural element, say the book is about an African American regiment, then you have an additional media pool who will have interest in the topics you write about.

I worked recently on a book by James Cameron, titled Color of War, a book which is based on extensive research and first-hand interviews with veteran white Marines and black Marines and African-American sailors who survived Port Chicago, a historic disaster in WWII. Campbell crafted The Color of War to paint a gripping picture of July 1944, the explosive month that changed the course of history. The Color of War juxtaposes the spirit of the Greatest Generation with the scars of segregation. In June 2012, in a fitting tribute, the black Marines who fought in Saipan will be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for their WWII service. President Obama signed legislation to create the nation’s 392nd national park, the Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial in Concord, California, to commemorate the explosion and the men who lost their lives at Port Chicago. The PR effort was pretty successful and got coverage in newspapers, magazines, radio and tv both locally in Chicago and nationwide. (I’ll send this news release to you and a few others so you can see what history news releases look like.)

I think the most critical element of your approach to media would be to not simply describe what the book contains. You have to tell entertaining stories that are so good as to intellectually and emotionally engage the audience and capture their imagination and make them relive a piece of the history. If they like the hefty taste you give them enough, then they will want the whole set of books. The news release offers stories and photographs so as to communicate to media both the printable, audio and visual elements of the stories that can be shared so the media can easily imagine what the finished media coverage looks like and sounds like. You’ll have to be willing to let the media publish or use on TV the photos you have available for their feature stories. You might want to be the interviewee but you may also want to see if you can find family member descendants so as to enlarge the pool of people so you can add depth and greater human interest.

The next area to follow along and create a parallel outreach strategy by using Google to identify the clubs, associations, institutions, museums, events, historical societies, and other groups of people who devote considerable time and interest to all the above subject matter areas: history, the civil war, books, military, veterans, and so on. Start locally (e.g., with a search on “civil war history club + your location”) and branch out with sequential searches systematically, city by city, county by county, state by state, and so on, depending on how far you can reasonably travel offering to speak and give talks and lectures.

This will keep you busy for a while!