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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.

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.

Content Marketing: Using The 3 I Technique to Create a Publishable Content

Content Marketing: Using The 3 I Technique to Create a Publishable Content

I received lots of questions today about how to get the most out of my 3 I Technique.

There’s a neat way to create publishable content that you pitch in a news release. It’s called, “The 3I Technique” and you use it to create appropriate publicity materials for yourself, using articles about other people (= PR success stories) as a guide.

The 3I Technique works like this:

Step 1. Identify the Success Story (using the search engines to identify appropriate articles)

Step 2. Imitate it (pick one and mimic it line by line)

Step 3. Innovate it (by writing an article just like your success story, but using your own information).

Very simply, you must follow in the footsteps of those who have been successful with the media before you.

Using the 3 I Technique allows you to identify other successful media coverage and leverage it for your own practice.

Now to arm you so that you can develop releases and deploy these strategies freely, do a number of searches using your key words.

Then you’ll be able to use The 3 I Technique and do what’s necessary any time and you’ll be on your way.

Things you can’t do if you want publicity — What definitely doesn’t work

There are certain news releases that simply look more like advertising that news to most editors. Thus, while commercial advertising elements generally may be great for direct marketing, they are generally are fatal when placed into a news release.

¨ Anything that resembles a request for free advertising.
¨ Hard sell commercial pitches or marketing hype.
¨ Pithy quotes from executives & corporate gobbledygook.
¨ Clearly incomprehensible technical mumble jumbo.
¨ Freebies or discounts on prices or demos or consultations.
¨ Offers for free samples
¨ Promotes a product without more.
¨ Simply promotes a web site
¨ Promotes a publication or e-zine.

Although this may ultimately be your goal, the purpose of a news release is not to sell product. The purpose of a news release is to persuade an editor to give you news coverage – to publish information about you or your product.

You just need to interest the media decision-maker, and make it easy for them to do their job.

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

Is there anybody out there?

Discusses active vs. passive methods of delivering a news release

When you write a news release your goal is to get publicity – media coverage about you and your book – either an article or an interview. To do that you have to write a news release that is persuasive and interesting and then make sure it gets to media decision makers.

The technology you use to reach media decision makers has an incredible influence on the effectiveness of your outreach.

Online news release services will post a news release (a page of text and some even do multimedia pages) and then post a snippet (short description) or maybe even just a headline or a subject line with a link to the news release page and your content. Media have to search to find it and read it. The headline may be on top of the list of news releases posted for only a few minutes before another one is added to the system and then it gets pushed down as it is replaced by others. It may be accessible to media if they have signed up to receive news releases for selected keywords they are interested in. But they still may only receive an email with a list of subject lines or snippets and this may not produce a very high response.

The data you see on the reports from these services is also terribly misleading. You do not know really how many people saw your pitch, compared to how many machines or even search engine spiders actually are causing the hit. Page hits do not equal media coverage.

The meaningful measurements are:

How many media actually responded with an article or an interview;

How many review copies requested;

How many and what quality blog posts you get with links and attribution;

How many quality articles/reviews and interviews results from you then sending your book and media kit; and finally

Did you sell ultimately product and produce a return on your investment that exceeded the cost of your outreach;

The challenge with this process is that you have to communicate meaningfully with media and first persuade them to give you coverage and second, the coverage you get has to trigger action on the part of the audience.

I prefer using email html and the phone to get maximum effect when I write a news release.

This way you hit the maximum number of key media people directly with a pitch and follow up with them so you find out if they even received it, and if so what they think. If you can get them interested in getting more ideas, information and proposals from you, then the door opens. .

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.

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.

Getting the media (and everyone else…) to pay attention and get interested

Getting the media (and everyone else...) to pay attention and get interested

One of the participants in the Independent Authors Guild list on Yahoo said:

> There is one question that I think all indi authors have asked themselves. How do the big publishers do it. I understand that authors like Dan
> Brown and Rawling can sell 10 million copies on release day, but before that. I remember years ago stopping in the book isle at Wall-Mart. I
> picked up this book called “Deception Point” by Dan Brown. …[]… But? How did he get his first novel on that Wall-Mart shelf? No one
> had ever heard of Dan Brown before.

I hear the frustration people have in seeking to break even and make a profit writing all the time. Just want to share some experience, perspective and some ideas.

Many years ago, Dan Brown was a poor starving author and an English teacher and his wife Blythe were struggling, seeking to achieve success and sales with his fiction writing. They hired me back in the days when I operated a business called Imediafax (we used to send one page faxes to media) and I worked for them to get publicity for the book Angels & Demons before Dan made it big with The Da Vinci Code. (If you have Angels and Demons on your shelf go and look, you’ll find my name in the acknowledgements).

Then as now, an author must first do his or her best and WRITE A GOOD BOOK. (That’s a separate question. But let’s just say, OK, you’ve written a good book.)

Then they must do their best to let the right people know that they have a good book. They must reach their target audience and entertain and educate them so that they are motivated to buy the book. Many authors don’t do this very well. Yet it’s crucial if you are to be successful. So I’m going to focus on this a little.

People’s needs haven’t really changed. Time and technologies have changed.

I think there are amazing opportunities for success in writing. In the US alone you have over 330 million people all of whom read, watch and listen to newspapers, magazines, radio, TV and all sorts of Internet and electronic media and communications devices. We’re trained from birth and indoctrinated in how to use these technologies.

What’s more is we are biological organisms and have five senses and we respond to stimulation in predictable ways. We laugh at the same jokes, we cry at the same sad stories, and we get turn on by beautiful half naked people. What even more important is that we can be stimulated to buy things. The media and producers have figured out how to do this and you can too.

It’s pretty clear that you have the opportunity to do really well IF you figure out how to turn people on.

The challenge is that you need to learn how to turn YOUR people on.

And once you learn how to do that, THEN you can use all the available technologies to reach people and stimulate them to action.

BUT if you don’t figure out how to turn people on first, then no matter what technologies you use, you really won’t have the effect you seek.

So HOW do you turn people on? HOW do you turn media on? That’s the challenge.

At least in my continuing experience and a publicist, it doesn’t matter whether you write non-fiction or fiction. The media does not really care about the book. They care about what you do to their audience with what you ask them to publish (in an article or a review) or use on a show (in a feature or an interview). It has to be so good that it helps them sell more subscriptions and advertising. This is how they make their income and this is what you have to provide if you want them to use your content.

So if it’s not the book, what is it?

My Answer: It’s about the issues you can talk about! It’s about the emotional engagement and interest you can capture!

As a publicist, I see this again and again. You can see the proof of it day in and day out in the media you want to be in. The question is how do you do it?

You have maximum success turning people on by getting jazzed up and energized and spontaneously raving about the issues you write about. It’s when you and revved up and all fired up that you generate the energy and the intelligence that galvanizes people’s attention. It’s those moments when you are at your best.

That’s what you need to identify for your all promotional efforts. You will be most successful with media, when you offer them a show or an article with you doing what you do best. It need not be very long. It just has to be really good.

So if you’ve written a book and are seeking to get people to buy that book, keep on talking to people about your book and your writing. Pay close attention to what you say and do when you create maximum interest and turn people on. You can also find much of this information in the reviewer comments and testimonials that you receive from people who read your book. They’ll tell you very specifically what you wrote that turns them on.

But remember that you can’t use the description of the book or the feeling as a substitute for the real thing. When you do promotion, you must deliver the communication that actually produce the feelings that trigger the interest and action.

That is what you have to place into the communications you use. You must learn what you say and do and then capture and repeat that messages. This is not easy to do, when you realize that each medium of communications you choose to use has its own format requirements.

So focus on identifying what you say and do that turns people on. Capture it! Repeat it several times in various settings and circumstances and make sure that it produces the action that you want to happen (as in people get so interested that they buy your books).

Then you can reformat and use all the technologies you want to repeat that message. Like Dan Poynter says, write it once and sell it forever.

Getting more publicity in newspapers means going beyond the book pages

Strategies and tactics for getting beyond the book review pages

One of my clients expressed her frustration in getting her local paper to give her coverage for a children’s book. Her local paper was The New Orleans Time’s Picayune.

I offer up some of the techniques I use to help identify how to increase your chances of being successful with them and other newspapers and media who cover children’s books.

Use the 3 I Technique and the newspapers’ own search engine.

The 3 I Technique consists of 3 steps:

1. Identify a Success Story (and use this for a model for your own pitch).

2. Imitate It (line by line).

3. Innovate It (with your own information).

Now go to the target media that you want to be in.

I went to Nola.com since this is where you want to be, but you could use Google News, USAToday.com, the NY Times, or any media that you want to target.

Now search on your key words: children’s book

I used the singular (book) to capture both articles that use ‘children’s book’ and ‘children’s books’

Here’s the search:

http://search.nola.com/children%27s+book?date_range=m11

The first set of results included several years’ worth of articles so I used the advanced search engine option to narrow the results to the past 18 months only.

Now start studying the articles. Look to see what the editors write and publish, who the journalists are, what the articles contain in the way of information about the books, the authors, and their stories.

Make a list of the key content you see and realize that this list reveals both the editorial style and readership interests of the media you are studying.

Now use the 3 I Technique and start writing headlines, leads, sentences, paragraphs, and ends that mimic the articles you see.

If you use this process carefully, when you get through you have created a draft article that will very likely have all the characteristics of a feature story that looks like it came right out of the media you are using. You’ve done this on the first try without much pain at all.

Now polish it up and turn it into a news release. Send it to your target media.

You can also now use this same news release and send it to a custom targeted media list of other media.

There are about 2200 media that you can pitch that will consider stories about children’s books and authors in the US and Canada.

This is one of the best ways I know to be successful when you try for reviews and stories.

If all you do is seek a book review, you are narrowing your chances of getting media coverage. Book reviews occupy a very small portion of the overall publication. You have far greater opportunity for media coverage if you expand your horizons and look at other sections of the publications you seek to be in.

To avoid the risk and stigma of being classified as a self-publisher and experiencing the negative response associated with such a determination, you must first make sure that your book has the quality and content of a professionally produced product. This is a given.

Assuming it passes muster, then you must then bring into your pitch for media coverage, news angles and story content that goes well beyond what is covered on the book review pages. You must be totally aware of the type of news, educational information, entertainment information, and human interest data that is used in the other parts of the media publication (or tv or radio show) that you want to be in. Then you must consciously and strategically array and incorporate this type of data and information into your news release.

If you look over the stories in the NOLA search you will see that they do appear to be quite discriminating in what they choose to publish. But there are media coverage opportunities you can aim at. The big area of opportunity appears to be in local book events with a strong community involvement element.

To maximize your chances, you must identify the topics and the content of the articles that you see and then propose and present comparable content.

Now there is a diversity of content demonstrated in the articles. Learn from them. Identify from these articles the characteristics and information that is deemed newsworthy and do your best to present comparable information about yourself.

Just realize that no matter what you do, the media you are pitching to may still have a standard for “celebrity” that may be very difficult indeed to achieve. In the case of NOLA, if you look over the articles they publish on children’s book authors, you will see that the “celebrity” standard is indeed quite high indeed. In the past year, it does not appear that they have even written on article about a local author unless he or she was indeed a best seller or had “national celebrity” status.

You may think that you deserve to be there, but these media may simply still decide that you do not have what they are looking for to justify the coverage to their audience. Accept it and move on. Don’t get in a slump over the media you can’t please. They are making editorial decisions that keep them thriving economically as publishers. Realize that they are very sensitive to the character of their articles and editorial coverage. There are economic reasons that force them to maintain rather strict policies on what they can publish, so as to avoid any loss of revenue. The “self-publishing stigma” is one of those areas. Imagine the consequences of giving media coverage to low quality books. Understand what happens to subscriptions and advertising revenue if the audience decides, that was a pretty poorly done book you wrote about. The quality of the paper goes down if the quality of the content fails to stay at the levels that the paying audience expects and demands. So realize and understand the plight of your fellow publishers. They too are trying to stay alive publishing.

My advice is to try your best, allow yourself to fail, and move on. Stay focused on working with the media that will allow you to reach the people that matter the most to you. Like my client Andy Andrews says “what you focus on get bigger”.

So focus on getting beyond the book pages. Use the 3 I technique to bring your proposal up to the caliber and style of the media you want to be in.

Then present it to that media and all sorts of other similar media who will be interested in this sort of content. You will find that when you use these techniques to create a quality media proposal that contains the type of information, you will see other media respond to that quality content as well.

You can use this combination of tactics any time to maximize your media coverage and success.

Go for it!