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Tell Me a Story! Five essential elements for being on the front page of your target media

Five essential elements for being on the front page of your target media

More than anything, your audience seeks a story containing knowledge of success and a happy experience. Let me share with you an example.

I was on an airplane to Los Angeles wondering what I was going to say at a conference where i was speaking, when I had a breakthrough in understanding media. I had stared at the cover of USA Today and I glanced from story to story and there it was. The common elements of news on the front page again and again. Then i went to the magazines one right after another. Same elements. Everywhere! I just wrote down what I saw. Five simple elements, which I made into an acronym for easy storage and ease of use.

DPAA+H

I’ll share this with you now.

You are in the driver’s seat when it comes to selecting what you will tell people.

If you want attention that drives people to you, you have be engaging and you have to bring it on quick.

If you want to take your connections to a new level, tell people a story and make it:

DRAMATIC

PERSONAL

ACHIEVEMENT in the Face of

ADVERSITY

and add in a little HUMOR if you can.

Look around and you’ll see that these five elements are the most common things that are featured in both successful media coverage and in marketing communications.

DPAA+H

Study the top media. Look at he headlines and read the lead sentence and the first paragraph.

You can do it, too.

Turn Your People On! Copywriting that Produces Action

Writing marketing and publicity copy that produces interest and action (sales)

Here’s my best advice for authors and publishers wanting publicity that helps sell books: Turn your people on.

The message has to make people pay attention and want more of what you have to offer. If you don’t succeed at this, even an article in USA Today won’t
help you sell books. Identify the hot buttons that get your audience jazzed.

Ask them, “why do you like this?”

Pay attention to what you said that produced howls of delight. Study your testimonials and reviewer comments, ask your mother or kids. Just figure
this out and focus on it. What you focus on tends to get bigger.

Identify what you do that turns people on, and then do more and more of it. Then prepare a variety of presentations that hit those hot buttons again and again in varying lengths from 30 seconds to ten minutes in length. Every word you say has to make people crave more.

If you bore them even momentarily, you will likely lose them.

This is the key to PR success and marketing success as well.

You can’t say “buy this amazing provocative book!” You must be amazing and provocative. You must do what you are best at in your own unique way. You
must entertain, educate and stimulate. You must give people chills and thrills. And you must practice this and perfect this messaging until you can
do it again and again with adequate action producing results (=sales).

Once you develop, refine, and prove YOUR MESSAGING, based on the actions people take in response to what you say and do (= proven sales), then the
rest is easy. Then can you use technology as a force multiplier to extend and share and repeat the message (using technologies and media of all types) and thus get the results you dream of achieving.

Publicity Planner for 2013 – Identifying Opportunities for Media Coverage Well In Advance of Deadlines

Publicity planner is a publicity calendar designed to help people identify opportunities for media coverage

Every year I create a forward-looking publicity calendar to help identify opportunities for media coverage in advance which is available in a free pdf file download.

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

Here are the links to the Publicity Planner for 2013:

• Color version (the dazzling beautiful to look at edition)

http://www.directcontactpr.com/files/files/Publicitycalendar2013.pdf or http://goo.gl/MMz6N

BW version (low ink eating printable edition)

http://www.directcontactpr.com/files/files/publicitycalendar2013bw.pdf or http://goo.gl/LLScX

Many more useful tips, articles and resources are included in the calendar. The calendar can be printed or used on your computer.

Share freely. Reach out and help the people you can help the most. Enjoy!

Happy New Year! Stay safe wherever you go!

Publicity Planner for 2013

When can you send out a news release? Answer: as soon as your books are available!

Timing and lead time on sending out a news release about a book available for review

My rule of thumb is that you can send out a news release offering books for review as long as:

1. you have books for the media to review and can ship them within a week or so of getting the request

2. the book is available for purchase on Amazon and your web site at a minimum (and maybe other places as well).

Timing is roughly based on when you want the publicity to hit taking into account the normal lead time the media needs to do what they do even if they decide to do a feature story, an interview or a book review the day your book arrives in their hands. Your web site and Amazon need to be in place and operational so you derive the financial benefit of your promotion.

Now from experience (and I do send out lots of news releases for authors and publishing companies), 95 percent of the media response to a news release transmitted by email occurs within 24 to 48 hours of delivery. Then you have to stuff a package (with a book and a copy of your news release at a minimum), send it by street mail (I recommend First Class or Priority and never media mail), then wait for delivery (five to seven days), then wait for the media to review the book or take action (review time on the book and work time to take action on your proposal for media coverage).

The minimum lead time for media is usually two to three publishing cycles. So for online media you can estimate that even once they get the book and if they read it right away, it’s one to two weeks. For daily newspapers it is two to three weeks. Same for radio. TV varies on the urgency and perceived interest but the normal lead time is three to four weeks. For magazines, the lead time if four to six months.

I recommend you transmit your news release on timed for Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday delivery. The media tend to operate on a five day work week. Saturday and Sunday they are gone. Friday tends to be a bad day because they are wrapping things up and trying to get their desk cleared before the weekend. Monday is a bad day because they are catching up from Friday and also have staff meeting and priority assignment from on high. By Tuesday, you can get the maximum attention to read and respond to your proposal and it gives the media the rest of the week to identify, allocate and deploy the resources needed to give you the type of publicity you seek.

You may think that sending an eBook will expedite reviews. Don’t make that assumption. Media seek to validate when they get a review copy. They want to make sure they recommend something good that has real value. The ebook or pdf file is too readily deleted, discarded or ignored for you to trust a media to do a quality review. The best way I know to maximize your success with media is to make a quality presentation and give them what they need to do the best job you want done. Send them a quality book, a quality pitch, photographs of the cover and the author, plus feature story quality content and value.

Response to Publicity Doesn’t Work

Response to Publicity Doesn’t Work

Forbes just posted an opinion article “Book Promotion for Self-Publishers

http://www.forbes.com/sites/suwcharmananderson/2012/06/19/book-promotion-for-self-publishers-a-waste-of-time/

Quite a number of authors express great frustration and anguish over the fact that the publicity (book reviews, interviews, feature stories, etc). they received didn’t result in lots of book sales.

In fact several of them conclude that publicity doesn’t work.

OMG, failure certainly speaks louder than success. What a sad perspective.

Their experience with media may be due to a lot of things. But to me what appears to have happened is that whatever the media published certainly didn’t result in them “turning their people on”. I don’t see that as a reason to conclude that “Publicity Doesn’t Work”.

I see that a failure to make effective use of any number of golden media opportunities. Very simply, they didn’t turn people on.

In the middle of February, one of my clients, JJ Smith, did one interview on The Steve Harris Morning Show, and sold over 6,000 books and made it to the top of Amazon’s best seller list ahead of The Hunger Games Trilogy. Sure, it was only for 24 hours or so, but it was a single talk show interview that did it.

One of my favorite authors, Vince Flynn, did an interview with USA Today on Feb 6. He’s a best selling author of 13 books. He was asked three questions, and he spent one to two minutes more or less, answering each question. I was tickled to see how he handled the last question from the USA Today interviewer, one that he apparently had never been asked before – “What is it about your stories that brings the reader in?” BTW, it worked since I ran to the local bookstore and bought a copy.

For those of you who have worked with me, I challenge you with this very same question “what do you do that turns people on?” whenever we seek get media coverage whether it is for a review, a feature story, or an interview.

Think about what happens – just for example, when was the last time you read the newspaper or a magazine or watched TV and grabbed your credit card?

It probably doesn’t happen very often., does it? In today’s world, it may actually happen more often if you read something on a trusted blog or on a friend’s Facebook and they say, “…this is cool. You gotta have it.”

Think carefully about the times that it does happen. How did you feel? Weren’t you amazed, galvanized, and stunned? Wasn’t your attention riveted?

Well, if you want publicity or any other marcom that you create to do that, then you’d better figure out what is happening when it happens to you first. Then you have to learn what you can say and do to make it happen to others.

Realize that if you want to be a successful author you not only have to write a really good book, but when you get in front of media you need to turn your audience on. You have to learn how to do that or else people won’t respond the way you want them to.

Now I’ll share with you something I’ve learned doing publicity for a few tens of years.

I believe that you can learn to do this anywhere. I call this the miracle of the microcosm because I’ve found from working with real people, from all over the country, that it really doesn’t matter where you are. You can learn what to say that turns people on one person at a time. Yes you can.

You just have to keep talking to people and pay attention to what you said when it happens!

You can ask people at a speaking engagement to tell you. You can have a partner watch the audience and take note while you are speaking. You can record your talks and track sales or how many people raise their hand or come up to you after your talk. You’ll find hints in your reviewer comments and testimonials where people tell you why they love what you do.

The miracle is that once you learn the magic words that produce the action you want, you can then you can use all the media and other marcom technologies as a force multiplier to repeat the message and keep reproducing the effect.

In a nation with 330 million people, you have very good reason to focus on that message. Even if you are successful in reaching and converting an itsy bitsy tiny percent, you can be phenomenally successful.

Before you think that doing publicity or any other MarCom (marketing communications) technology is going to help you, you really need to learn what you can say and do that turns your people on. You need to develop a script that produces action.

Can you stand in front of 50 people and talk for three minutes so that half the people come flying out of their chairs and hand you money? That is what you need to be able to do. You need to hit their hot buttons by being the very best you can be. You need to give people a transcendental emotionally engaging experience. Learn how to do this in a small audience and then place that script into your interviews and feature story proposals.

The same is true by the way with social media. The real promise of social media is only achieved when what you’ve done is so good people rave about it to all their friends. If it’s not good enough, it’s just panned.

If you learn how to turn people on, and then use that in your targeted communications so that you help the people you can help the most, you’ll see your success with the media hit maximum levels. This isn’t easy to do. But if you are strategic and test, improve, and prove your communications systematically, it can be done.

Make sure that the content you offer is like candy. Create a recipe that tastes so good that people just can’t get enough of it. and they want the whole bag.

BTW, I’ve create a five minute, self-serve Prezi that describes how to do this process in a highly entertaining and visual way. It’s at my blog – here’s the link:

http://blog.directcontactpr.com/2012/02/getting-the-best-publicity/

Enjoy.

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.

Getting the Best Publicity

Guidance, strategy and steps to getting the best publicity

Getting publicity for books with “edgy” content

Getting publicity for books with "edgy" content can be very difficult

Publish-L author asked a question whether to include sex, violence, drugs and “edgy” content in a new Young Adult title. I offered up some thoughts from a publicity perspective.

Most of the prime media reviewers and many of the Internet and bloggers represent the socially conservative family oriented (hence G-rated) perspective. They actively embrace the clean and wholesome.

I have yet to see YA books that contain violence, sex, drugs and four letter words do particularly well with media. It seems that most of the adults simply nix the idea of sharing books that contain these elements with others. They cater to their audience preferences and opt for the safe and easy to promote so that they don’t suffer criticisms from those who find these elements distasteful.

Basically, while you may be able to persuade media people to take a look using news releases and phone calls that describe the books but don’t reveal or utilize these elements, once they get the book in their hands and see what it contains, you run a major risk of then being unable to get any positive reviews, and may in fact find yourself having to deal with the consequences of negative reviews.

Not that this should stop you, it’s just a factor I recommend you consider. My kids still rave about the Alana series, and witness the success of The Hunger Games. These books contain sex, violence, highly questionable behavior. Of course, quality content, style, and action packed edge of your seat writing may be playing so much more of a factor that reviewers will overlook any incidental elements they find to be distasteful within. And if the books are so good people will rave about them to each other in spite of their “edginess”, then you might not care about what media say, and in fact, it may not matter.

One of the other Publish-L participants noted that even the NY Times covers Young Adult books that contain sex, violence, and drugs.

This is true. It’s also not particularly relevant to the issue of promoting a new book from a lesser or unknown (or heaven forbid – self-published) author that contains these elements.

My point isn’t that you can’t get media to play with you once you climbed the mountain and achieved the level of a social phenomenon. You can. The fact that you’ve become a best-selling success makes the reporting of that news easy, safe, and trust worthy. The media are reporting facts. They are no longer taking a gamble on the book or the author. There is very little risk to them for publishing the news on this basis.

My point is that until you do so, getting media to play with you will be very difficult. After the fact reporting of success is much easier to acquire than coverage that helps you achieve success.

Persuading the media to give you media coverage before you’ve acquired a track record means you need to communicate and validate the quality, the value, and the importance of the writing and contribution without being able to demonstrate that tens of thousands of people agree with you and do in fact love what the author has created.

My point is that when you promote a book (or anything else for that matter) and seek to get media to share information about the book and the author, media look at that idea as a proposal for media coverage. You’ve got to answer to the three main questions that they use to make decisions correctly. These are:

1. How many people in my audience will be interested in this?
2. What’s in it for my audience?

The answer to both these questions has to be:

1. A LOT OF PEOPLE; and
2.. A LOT OF VALUE

Then you get to the third question the media asks.

3. What does it cost me to do my job?

The answer to this question has to be:

VERY LITTLE

This is because media editors will only invest staff time, energy, and publication resources into articles that help them sell more subscriptions or get more advertising, since that’s how they make their income and survive and thrive.

Good luck trying to persuade media to review a new just published book or interview an author of an unknown author of a book that’s filled with sex, violence, and drugs.

Can you imagine the how editors wince and cringe when little old ladies and god-fearing parents call up or write in and say they will no longer buy the publication because they are promoting such awful stuff?

Editors and producers will not give people coverage if doing so threatens their publishing income. Reporters and columnists won’t take the risks when they are so easily fired and replaced.

Yes, it’s sad that the world is like this, but this is the way it works and this is what really happens.

The point is that as writers and authors we get to make decisions about what to place into our works. We can think ahead and recognize what the people we will use to promote need to be successful and we can design, create and incorporate the elements that will enable them to utilize what we offer.

We can think ahead and do our best to write to sell. You just need to do so with your eyes open.

If you don’t think ahead and you create books that contain risky topics or course language, and you do so to express yourself or drive whatever points or agendas you may have, well, that’s your decision. It’s your publishing business and you take the risks. It’s your choice.

Just don’t be surprised when you then try to promote it and find out that it’s really hard to succeed.

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 more publicity: The three key questions a news release answer

Getting more publicity: The three key questions a news release must answer

I cannot believe what is coming across the wire. So may people are still blasting out news releases that lack the essential information media need. What a waste.

If you want your news release to be maximally effective, it has to answer the primary questions for the media:

1. How many people in my audience are going to be interested in this?
2. What’s in it for my audience?
3. How easy is it for me to use this information (e,g., how much does it cost me to do this?)

Then it must present your proposed story, the facts needed to support and flesh out the story, your ideas, advice, or comments, your skills, experience, credentials and accomplishments in terms of that objective.

You have to offer media everything they need to run with the story using you and the resources you’ve arrayed if you are to meet their needs in today’s fast paced environment and the ever changing technologies we get to utilize.