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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!

Getting Publicity for Web Seminars Is Very Difficult

Getting Publicity for Web Seminars Is Very Difficult

Have to tell you that I have yet to see media (prime media or even bloggers we pitch to) cover web seminars to any great extent. But to answer the question properly I had to ascertain existing media coverage for those keywords.

So I did the following search at Google News for “web seminars”.

http://news.google.com/news/search?aq=f&pz=1&cf=all&ned=us&hl=en&q=web+seminars

You can study the results yourself if you do this search. The proof is right before your eyes.

Here what I saw on Page 1 of the results:

• One AP article from US newspaper article talking about a free government web site web seminar on health insurance (hot topic for obvious reasons)

• One NY Times article on strategies for graduates that talks about using web seminars as a tactic for searching for work

• Three news releases posted at free online news release distribution services (not type of media coverage we are looking for)

• Two online magazine event announcements (topical but online only and good luck finding these unless you specifically look for them)

• Two topical online news service announcements (similar highly limited distribution and actual reach to people issues)

While the AP article appears encouraging, the AP cited to the US government on a hot topic.

The others are all media with very little reach or impact

So there is not one author, expert, or company article to be found in the prime media.

So at least based on this analysis of existing media coverage, the chances of seeing a business web seminar getting picked up nearly non-existent in newspapers, radio, TV, news services and news syndicates.

You may see a few pickups in trade magazines, but the possibilities of people in a given target audience are remote given the extreme paucity of bona fide media coverage that is revealed from the Google News results.

So what can you do?

Stay with the known proven tactics that perform well.

To date, media will run (in order of effectiveness and ROI to you)

– problem solving tips article by authors and experts

– local event announcements with significant community engagement

– human interest stories

– book reviews in media that serve the people you are trying to reach the most

Since the client I was working with was seeking targeted publicity that brands her and she sought to see interested people contact her for books, speaking and consultation, the best tactic I could recommend is for her to use the problem solving tips article approach.

It is the only reliable proven way to let people see and experience what she can do for them so that they act by asking for her to do more of the same for them.

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

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

You are a natural problem solver filled with good advice.

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

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

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

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

Bet you can’t eat one!

Book reviews VS. Feature Stories – Which Sells More?

Book Reviews VS. Feature Stories - Which Sells More?

I personally don’t believe that book reviews sell as many books as do feature stories. Yes, they have a role to play, but it’s actually a very limited role. The real gains are to be made with galvanizing feature stories.

The key to understanding this is that book reviews tend to simply show and tell the book and what’s inside the book while good feature stories are designed to galvanize and get people emotionally involved. If what people see gives them an experience, then they are far more inclined to take the action desired, which is to step closer to the book and the author. Articles about the author also tend to produce a professional branding effect. this means that if people read and like what they see, then they will be inclined to buy everything the author has for sale.

This means that if you put down the book, stop selling the product for a second and focus on doing what you do best – entertaining your audience and giving them your best, then this is when you stand your best chance of saying and doing something that will really turn people on.

Give people an experience. Make them laugh, cringe, make them hungry, solve a painful problem, make them feel good, feel bad, feel sexy, or feel awed and inspired.

Do that and they’ll remember you.

That’s what really causes people to pay attention and buy what you are selling.

Timing the transmittal of a news release

One of the members of the POD Publishing discussion group asked the following question:

When do you recommend going out with the press release (i.e. on the release date, a month before, etc.).

——-

Timing news releases depends what you are trying to accomplish and where you are at in your publishing or product release schedule. You must first recognize the key event date and then take media lead times into account. If this is associated with the publication of a book or a new product, this is usually associated with the official publication date or release date.

I do not generally advise sending out a news release till you can satisfy media requests for review copies or product test samples and interviews with the right person or people. If you can’t satisfy the media then you hurt yourself since you get a request which opens the door of opportunity but then you can’t satisfy the media’s request immediately. So you reduce the chances of getting the coverage you seek. So it depends when your books are available to you and that usually is a month or so before an official publication date, but this varies and is often a flexible date.

Second, the public has to be able to buy the product when the media publishes the news. So that means it has to be available at Amazon and/or BN.com plus any number of other web sites, and possibly be available in bookstores and or through bookstores so you can financially benefit (that is sell product) from the national or targeted demand your publicity seeks to create. This means you should not launch a news release or publicity campaign until the business system is totally operational. If you need to book to be in the bookstores or retail shops first, then you have to wait until your distributor tells you it is time to hit the switch. You have to be prepared to do what’s necessary to publicize and promote so that the window of opportunity doesn’t slip by and the lack of demand results in returns. Timing so that publicity hits when the product is in the stores is pretty crucial. If you are selling totally online, then this is not as crucial a factor.

You have to factor media lead time into account. This means you look two to three publications cycles ahead of the media you seek to get coverage in or on and then also take into account things like media response time to your pitch, mailing and delivery time, assignment time, the time it takes to read, write, review and then actually publish an approved article. For daily newspapers, this means a week to two weeks minimum and many times usually requires a month; for weekly newspapers, this is four to six weeks or more; for magazines this is four to six months. For radio and TV, it’s seven to ten days minimum, and preferably two to four weeks. Online media can of course react very quickly but many of the response and review times do factor into how soon these media can respond effectively. That’s all assuming you want media to do something with your book.

This means that you really have to stagger your news releases and target your media carefully if you are to take advantage of the medias needs. magazines require four to six months, so you hit them first. You do the short term media two to four weeks before your official public availability date. If you wait till the one month before launch date, then magazine publicity will come last and in some cases you lose the opportunity to time the coverage that you need at the time of product release. Still magazine publicirty at the back end can be a very helpful thing to have indeed since it will sustain your sales once the impacts of the short term efforts and coverage start to diminish.

Let’s say though that you are publicizing an event like a book signing, or a conference, or a work shop or a speaking event. If it is deemed to be newsworthy event or a hard news happening or something you propose media to witness of go to that involves people and photographers and interviews, then the minimum media times apply. We’ve seen newspaper, radio and TV camera crews get sent out and show up within 30 minutes of transmittal holding their Blackberries and iPods in their hand reading the news release and say “where do we set up?”

Finally there’s the day to day timing question. Which day of the week is it best to send out a news release to the media? The prime media tends to work on a five day work week schedule and that means they work Monday through Friday. Saturday and Sunday they have off and fewer people really are working in the office. Monday is a bad news day because the media show up to work and have staff meetings and have to recover from the weekend. Friday is also a bad day since they are wrapping things up and are trying to leave for the weekend. So unless it is really hard news, transmitting a news release on or near weekends is not going to get the best media response. But it really depends again what you are asking media to do. If all you want them to do is say yes to you sending in a book for review, Friday morning may be OK.

Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays give you the best opportunity to catch media when they have the least amount of competition for their attention and the maximum opportunity to devote resources to your project. So that is when I prefer to news releases to be delivered.

Finally, after the book is published, the publicity you seek may be far more issue and content focused and related to current events or some other angle. Regardless, you seek to get coverage for the best ideas, education or entertainment you can offer. This you can do whenever you want to do, but it really helps to get out in front to media and look four to six months out. So for example, today is March 25 so Mother’s Day is six weeks away, Father’s Day is two and a half months away, Earth Day is a month away, Independence day is three months away, Labor Day is four months away and so on.

I’ve created a free publicity calendar to help identify opportunities for people which is a free pdf file download. It contains a lot of unusual holidays so that you can really get creative and think up ways to tie-in to calendar events well in advance of the day they occur. Here’s the link:

Publicity Planning Calendar for 2010
http://www.directcontactpr.com/files/files/Publicityplan2010.pdf

The lesson learned is to be prepared, plan things out carefully, andthink through what you are asking media to do when you send out a news release.

If you’ve done your homework and you know you are offering something that interests a lot of people, has real value to the audience, and you also offer the media what they need to do their job easily and quickly, then when you send out a news release and get it to the right media people for action, then you will often times get what you wish for (which is media coverage).

The Key to Success is to Really Do Something

Action plan for turning passive reading into active maximum enjoyment

Read a book. To get from passive knowledge to active maximum enjoyment and real tangible benefits you need to do more than just read.

Take notes while you read. Underline ideas that you like. Highlight the things you’d like to make happen.

After reading, review the notes.

Think about each and every underlined passage.

Now think, actively dream and visualize about how you can use the idea.

Now write down what you want and need to do to apply the idea to your life, business, career, project or whatever.

Then identify the tasks you need to perform to make this idea happen.

Now create a schedule to do the tasks.

Now implement that schedule and take the first action on your list of task.

Keep going.

Publicity Planning for Fall of 2009

Publicity Planning for Fall of 2009

If you want to get more publicity, then you need to look ahead and identify the opportunities that will be coming your way.

So get out your calendar and think about what sort of article you’d like to see come out in the months ahead.

Identify the holiday or date or season that allows you to create a tie-in.

Then craft a news release or an article that’s appropriate for that date or event.

Pay attention to the crucial lead times and transmit the pitch idea to the right media to ensure that your proposal gets the timely consideration and attention it deserves.

To help you identify what’s coming up, here’s a quick look ahead at the next few months of opportunities.

Today is August 19, 2008

Ramadan begins Friday

Labor Day is three weeks away
Columbus Day is three weeks away
Grandparents Day is three weeks away

Rosh Hashanah is one month away
Yom Kippur is one month away
Fall is one month away

Halloween is two months away
Election Day is two and a half months away

Thanksgiving is three months away

Christmas is four months away
New Years Day is four plus months away

Valentine’s Day is five months away

Critical lead times: Daily Newspapers, Radio and TV – seven to ten days. Weekly newspapers – four to six weeks. Magazines – four to six months.

Best days to transmit your news releases are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Plan and write copy Friday through Monday. Plan ahead and start writing early.

You can get your free 2009 Annual Publicity Plan download here.

Knowing When You’ve Created Your Purple Cow

Knowing When You've Created Your Purple Cow

A question was presented to me today:

>> If CNN does decide to interview me, or if I’m scheduled for an interview on
>> any of the other cable news networks I’ve approached, I’m going to want the whole world to watch and learn about my concept.

>> I need to hire someone who knows how to use the Internet to make that happen.

Actually, I don’t think you need to hire anyone. I can’t imagine lots of people being motivated by a message that says ‘watch me on CNN!’ Think about it. You might send out an email to friends, colleagues and your mother, but most media won’t tell their audience to go watch you on another channel or network.

What I think you really need to do is refine your idea until it flies by itself when you present it to anyone and to everyone.

You’ll know you’ve got what it takes when it happens repeatedly and reliably and a level that produces a sustainable yield.

I call this the miracle of the microcosm. If you create something good and can communicate it so that people want it in your little neck of the woods, then when you go on CNN and say the same thing, it will have the same effect on millions of people.

But if what you created isn’t all that great, and what you said to people to get them interested wasn’t all that persuasive or galvanizing, then it won’t matter at all what you say even if you are on CNN.

You can develop your ‘mar-com’, script, or that magic sequence of communications yourself right in your back yard. You create the interview script that goes A-B-C-D-E and produces action XYZ.

This works because we are a nation of people who have been raised to respond to media communications the same way. We laugh at the same jokes and cry at the same sad stories, we cringe at the same pictures of tragedy and disaster and squeal with delight and water at the mouth when promised something sweet to eat.

Here is an article which describes a method for developing your own galvanizing communications sequence and testing it till you know it works.

The Magic of Business
http://www.directcontactpr.com/free-articles/article.src?ID=105

Here’s a link to another article I wrote with tips and ideas on:

How to Be Galvanizing- 22 ways to be galvanizing and interesting to media, prospects and customers
http://blog.directcontactpr.com/public/getting-more-publicity-getting-more-sales-how-to-be-galvanizing

To me and based on my experience with my own books, databases, inventions and clients, perhaps the most powerful thing you can do is make your presentation in the form of a helpful problem solving article or interview. Being helpful is the most important thing you can do to get people interested in what you have to offer. What you offer has to be truly remarkable and useful.

So here’s one more set of ideas for you all about:

Publicizing and Promoting by helping the People You can help the Most
http://blog.directcontactpr.com/public/publicizing-and-promoting-by-helping-people-the-people-you-can-help-the-most

If you do create a script that produces reliable action when you present it to people, of course, then it’s time to incorporate it into news releases and other business proposals and send it out to media and companies and organizations everywhere, so you can use the power of the media as a force multiplier.

I’ll be happy to see that ‘mar-com’ once you’ve created and feel like it’s ready to be pitched.

😉

New 2009 Publicity Planner helps authors and publishers create detailed roadmap of promotional and marketing activities

This unique publicity planner provides a month-at-a-glance roadmap to holidays throughout the year and identifies the lead time for each holiday.

Each year I create an annual publicity plan to help people look ahead and map out their ideas for acquiring publicity throughout the year.

The special design makes it easy to develop a detailed personalized framework of key dates and events so that you map out your strategy and ideas to promote your book or your writing in 2009.

The new planner for 2009 is now available as a free pdf file.

Anyone who is interested can send me an email at Paul@DirectContactPR.comand just ask me to send you the 2009 Publicity Planner

It is also available as a free download at my web site www.directcontactpr.com – look in the free downloads section for the Publicity Toolkits.

Maybe we don’t need PR any more?

A response to idea that PR isn't necessary any more

People are talking about how Vincent Bugliiosi has sold lots and lots of books by word of mouth, blogs, and without reviews and commentary by major media.

One comment on one of the discussion lists I follow stated:

“So I would advise writers who can’t afford a real PR firm to find a niche magazine for your work with ideally national circulation and get an article on your stuff in there.”

My opinion is that this is good advice for some and not for others.

What you see as being a vehicle for your success with PR is not what others may see when using PR. Media PR and marketing success is based on what each target audience reads, watches or listens to particularly when they are in the receptive mood or mode for whatever is being offered.

In one case it makes perfect sense that certain magazines are a good place, one type of products and services while radio and other places won’t be fruitful at all.

This is because media publish or cover based on the answers to just two key questions:

1. how many people in the audience will be interested?

2. what’s in it for the audience?

The answer to both questions has to be:

A = A lot.

This varies by the type of product or service or information offered and to what people are accustomed to reading, hearing or watching in the target media. My experience is that everyone needs to figure out what works for themselves. There is no single process or technique that works for everyone.

The chord you strike, the media response you get, and the actions you see once published depends on the perceptions and expectations you create with your news release.

This week, we saw blogs produce significant and near instant success for a book about remarkable artwork created by people with autism. We saw TV and radio and print respond well to a timely problem solving tips article and interview pitch based on a book about career re-invention for people over the age of 40. We saw FOX TV and national and local business magazines and newspapers respond well to an article based on a book for CEO’s. We saw magazines and newspapers and radio and tv respond well to a new high fashion cosmetic product. We saw radio and TV respond well to a country music video titled ‘pain at the pump’.

Each message was different and went to different media. What’s interesting is the number and quality of media who responded favorably, and what happened after the publications came out. In some cases the article were published within 24 to 48 hours and results were observed immediately. In other cases, requests were made, interviews were booked and results won’t be ascertained for a while to come. But we saw the right media audience respond predictably to each.

The experience shows that the media response depends what you have to offer and what the message is. Each product and message has to be tailored and targeted intelligently. The message has to be galvanizing to produce the desired action. If it’s not, then the publicity fails to produce the desired sales.

The media response will tend to parallel the market response very well. This is critical business intelligence for people with startup products. This intelligence can be used to grow a business. It’s valuable information if properly used.

The goal of publicity is to create national or targeted name recognition in the right pool of people. Targeting and mastering the messages that produce the action you desire (e.g., sales) takes research and intelligent design and repeat practice so that the message produces results reliably and consistently.

But this often takes time to develop.

Just think how much time and effort and repetition goes into mastering your particular product mix or skill set. You go to school for years, get degrees, then work gaining experience, all so that you get versatile and know what to do in a range of siutations. You wouldn’t use specific tactics in all situations. You’d only use specific tactics in certain situations.

The same type of decision making processes apply with PR to produce sales. You have to develop the experience and knowledge regarding where and when and how to use which tactics and messages.

And once you figure out what works, then you can use technology as a force multiplier and repeat the message in front of the right pool of people.

Of course, this is a process of testing and improving. Many first time publishers can only afford to do it once and the economics then don’t allow them to continue on. If they survive the startup process and do actually create a business, then doing PR regularly helps them grow their business. It’s the same with marketing.

One thing is for certain. If you stop marketing, your business dies.

PR is not a substitute for direct marketing. It’s a tool to help your marketing. It has to be wisely and properly used. Often times, it’s not only the instant effect on sales that the publication has when it is first released that is most valuable. Often times the follow on effect of the author/owner when using the PR success for marketing afterward is what produces most sales. The article has the effect regardless when it is seen or heard.

I wrote an article that’s worth looking at if you want to see a systematic view of how to evaluate and track the effectiveness of pr efforts. Here’s the link.

Article: Tracking Publicity Success and Public Relations Effectiveness

http://www.directcontactpr.com/free-articles/article.src?ID=14