Direct Contact PR, Internet media faxgrowth

performance assessment

Are you ready to publish? Knowing when you are done.

Are you ready to publish? Knowing when you are done.

Each year I work with hundreds of authors and publishing companies. Very few of them ask enough strangers to give them feedback as part of their book creation process.

What I recommend people do is go slow. Start with family, friends, colleagues, employees and expand the circle till you reach strangers. Show and tell one on one. It’s possible to learn how to sell. That’s the miracle of the microcosm. If you learn what you need to say to people in your little neck of the woods, chances are you can then say the same thing anywhere and everywhere you go and you’ll be equally successful selling your products wherever you go.

But you need to learn those magic words first.You have to write to sell, and the job of writing isn’t done until the book sells. This is where most self-publishers go astray. They publish their book without verifying it was really ready for market. Many don’t even get the help of an editor!

You have to test your ideas and test your product and test your mar-com (marketing communications) on real live people. STRANGERS! You need to identify your end users and the people who will buy the book for your users. Then you need to learn what to say to get these people to take the action you want.

Write to sell and test, test, test. Do this in small doses till you get the right buy signals. Reliably. Not just once or twice, but repeatedly and reliably.

Do 25 to 50 POD versions and test it with these important people.

You’ll know by their behavior and response whether you are really ready to publish the book.

If you can’t get people to even look at it, then you’re not done.

If they look at it and put it down, then you still have work to do.

If people look at it and grab it, you might be done. It depends what happens when they then pick it up and peruse it. If they put it down, then you’re not done.

If you get good comments that say “OMG you turned me on” – capture it, and do more of it.

If you get negative feedback that says “YUCHHH!”, take it out or fix it. Get rid of it.

Improve with the CACA process. Create — Ask — Create Again — Ask Again.

Yes it can be pretty s****. You may choke on your pride and wake up after a sleepless night. You have to have the guts and fortitude to redesign and re-write it till you know you are done because it sings to people. You have to work with your prospective audience to get real feedback, and you must listen to what people say and address the issues you receive.

This may take a lot of reiterations. But one thing is for certain, there is a point that you will reach when you know that you are done. It’s a wonderful thing when you get to this point and know it.

So this is my bottom line advice: Write to sell. Don’t stop writing and re-writing till you know it sells, and sells easily and continuously.

Prove it with small test POD numbers. Use the technology that is available to all of us wisely. Then move it up through the publishing and promotion chain level by level.

In most cases, the author thinks the book should excite and grab people. But it doesn’t always happen that way.

So to me, they still have work to do. But they can’t speculate about what’s wrong, they need real data.

This is what I tell people to do – get the data. Figure out what you need to say and do to produce action that will satisfy your stated goals and objectives:

Go ask your candidate customers. Ask until you are blue in the face and get the hard difficult data and feedback you need to redesign and redo your project.

Which content has more impact? Niche or generic?

Content is King. How do you identify the right content for you?

I’ve studied this intensely as a publicist. My experience is that it depends on how you make your income and what you do and say that turns your people on and gets them to take the action you want them to take (sales, fundraising, votes, participation, whatever). Whatever you do best is where you will shine the most. You have to make light that outshine your competition. and you have to be able to communicate to YOUR people wherever you find them. So what do they read, watch or listen to, particularly when they are receptive to taking action? What can YOU say that fits in those circumstances. Prove the message first, then select the technology and format the message to the culture. For many professionals, the problem solving tips article or Q & A is the best professional branding tactic. For others, it’s a educational photo feature.

So many people struggle to figure out the right words to use to turn people on. I believe you can learn what to say that turns people on one person at a time. You just have to keep talking to people and pay attention to what you said when it happens.

I call this the miracle of the microcosm because I’ve found people can do this anywhere and everywhere. It doesn’t matter where they are at all. And once you do figure out the magic words, then you can apply the numerous outreach technologies as a force multiplier to repeat the results.

Here’s a link that goes to my Magic in a Message slide show presentation.

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”

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”.

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”

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.

Getting More Interviews on Radio and other Media

Advice on how to get more talk show interviews and how to get the maximum ROI from the interviews you do

Start with the end in mind.

The real key to evaluating your media performance is your sales. Radio is an instantaneous communications medium. To evaluate your performance you might want to see if you can figure out whether you can trace book sales to the time and place of your interview.

Many a small radio station or show in the middle of nowhere have captive audiences who are very dedicated. They trust their hosts, and they do what the host advises.

I’ve done five minute interviews on small stations in the middle of the morning that produced thirty to as many as fifty book sales on a toll free number literally while I was talking. This has outperformed 30 minute interviews on big Arbitron rated stations and shows in major cities. This is because of the quality of the audience and the interview.

So when a guest does an interview and really shines, they can sell a lot of books very quickly. But whether this happens really depends on the quality of the performance.

Your success on radio (or any other medium and technology) really is determined by what you communicate to your listening audience. That is why you need to evaluate what you said and identify exactly what happened and when.

In my opinion, it is a mistake to say “My book”. It labels you as a person who is selling a product. It’s a turn off. Experience shows that saying this reduces or diminishes your success. So you want to prepare the host and make sure they have products and information in advance. It’s better to be a galvanizing guest and have people call up to learn more about you than to be seen as a salesperson hawking a product.

You want the host to be the one to mention and talk about your book. You want the host to lavish you and your writing with praise and point the audience to what you have available. You want them to be the ones who do the sales talk for you.

Your job is to be the best guest you can possibly be. You don’t talk about you and your life unless you really know that it is interesting and impresses people. You don’t talk about your book and your writing and your marketing unless you really know it interests and engages people.

What’s the very best galvanizing media publicity you can get that will produce the maximum ROI?

I believe that it’s a three to five minute piece that galvanizes people with you doing what you absolutely do the best.

So 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.

That is what you have to do when you are interview on radio.

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.

So, did you turn people on to the point where they were motivated to take the action you wanted?

Do you know how to turn people on? Were you galvanizing? Were you funny? We your education or entertaining? Did you entrance people with your story telling? Did you plan and communicate your very best talking points? Were you boring or were you memorable?

You have to decide in advance what your goal is and then carry it off without a hitch. Then you have to evaluate whether you achieved your goal.

This is the key thing you are out to learn and to achieve. If you goal is to sell books, then ask yourself honestly, did you sell books? If not, then maybe you need to revise your script and your strategy until it does do what you want it to do.

Technically, you need to be on a single land line when you do your interview simply to achieve the best sound quality. Cell phones, Skype, even portable phone are all at risk for interference and reduced sound performance. You also must turn off all intrusions, such as other phones, door bells, cell phones, and call waiting. You need to be where you can conduct your interview quietly without anything distracting your attention or introducing unwanted sounds. Close all windows, close the doors, tell the kids and any other people that you need quiet and no interruptions while you are on the air or taping. Make sure no one in the house picks up another phone on the line you are using to make a call while you are using the phone.

BTW, I’ll go out on a limb here and offer up a point of some controversy. I’m not a big fan of blog radio simply because to date, my clients don’t sell a lot of books using the technology, or at least it is rare. It can be done. Some blog radio shows have developed some pretty nice dedicated audiences. Blog radio interviews also tend to be saved online in audio file formats that can be readily played on people’s computers (MP3, MP4, etc). So the potential is there for people to discover and play your interview again and again.

But does it compare to regular radio? There are over 6500 radio stations and shows out there in the US and Canada. When me and my clients do campaigns, it’s not unusual for a single news release and phone campaign to net us dozens of interviews. Some radio stations and shows have tremendous geographic reach. There are 10,000 to 50,000 watt stations in the Midwest that can be heard from Mexico all the way into Canada. There are radio network shows and syndicated radio shows that can result in a single interview being played in dozens to hundreds of affiliate stations. This is what you can do when you hire a publicist who has the ability to create custom media lists for you and help you pitch to hundreds and thousands of media.

The proof of whether it works for you or not is what you need to zero in on and document. The technology is not as important as whether you created and communicated a message that got the people you want to reach and influence to take the action you want them to take.

So, the bottom line is that you evaluate your talk show experience by whether you sold product. Were you successful?

If it works (and you sell product) then you are achieving success. If your interview sold books, then do more interviews just like it. If not, then study your message. Don’t conclude that the technology is at fault.

Your success with radio is just one of the many ways you can learn to be successful promoting your writing.

Learn what you can say to turn people on in your own backyard anywhere. This is how you’ll get the most effective publicity you’ve ever experienced. Once you create and prove this little script and once you really get it down and prove to yourself that it’s repeatable, you can use it again and again everywhere you go.

We’ve got a country of 330 million media indoctrinated people. They react to media messages in predictable ways. You can learn what it takes to get people to get interested in you. You can even learn what to say to get people to buy something.

And once you learn how to galvanize them in your back yard, you can use technology to repeat the message and reproduce the response again and again. Whether it’s radio or print or online it won’t matter. That’s the miracle of the microcosm in America.

Five key metrics for evaluating publicity outreach effectiveness

Five key metrics for evaluating publicity outreach effectiveness

Most people are fully satisfied with the publicity results only when the “reach, persuade and move-to-desired-action” process produces sufficient visible actions on the part of those people you wish to influence. However, it may take several weeks or even months for this to occur.

There are 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 the release. 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 release is distributed and you can identify the number and quality of the media responses to your news release.

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?”

At each of these points you should ask yourself: “What is really happening here?” Real data should be collected objectively and evaluated without prejudice. The actual numbers of tangible events can be tallied. The actual costs can be surmised. Only then can you ask yourself “How do you feel and why?”

It is crucial that you recognize the importance of measuring the value of publicity in clear financial terms at each step in this process. However, you must realize that this will not be easy to do.

On one time publicity efforts, you might be able to break even financially on step four within a few weeks of sending out a news release, especially if the release goes to newspapers, radio and TV. But with magazines and trade publications that require longer lead times, it may take seven to ten months to reach steps 4 and 5.

You may also need to continue to maintain your publicity outreach, say on a month-by-month basis. If you do not break even on a news release, what should you do? Stop or continue? Do you use the same publicity materials and media list or change them?

The answers depend on your specific goals, and your specific finances. Some publicity goals are financial and some are not. You may have the resources and commitment to go for a long distance. You may not.

You might not want money as your goal. You may simply be seeking publicity. You may simply want to get the word out for the purpose of informing and educating the public to a serious and important issue. You may need a specific type and quantity of media coverage to achieve this goal.

But if you are in business, you are far more likely to be solely interested in enhancing the bottom line. You are seeking to use publicity as a means to achieving sales. To you publicity is an essential part of your marketing plan and you very simply seek a positive return on investment.

If that is the case, every dollar counts and you must document and tabulate your sales and expenses.