It really is about time to change the definition of what a publicist is, because I have to tell you in the last 20 years the work I do on a daily basis has changed dramatically.
It’s very common for new authors to think, “Ok, I’ve written the book. Now I’ll hire a publicist and he or she will get the book out there and get it the attention it deserves. If it doesn’t get as much play as I think it should, well, that publicist just didn’t know what he or she was doing.
When I first consider taking someone on as a client I consider 5 things. Here are the first four:
- Do I love the material?
- Do I think media will love the material?
- Is the author mediagenic and if not, is he or she willing to get trained?
- Do I have chemistry with the author?
These four points were in this order for many years, and then something interesting happened. #3 became #1. Of course, loving the materials is still essential, but before anything can even begin with the publicity process, the author has to have some major pieces in place, including:
- Do they have networks?
- Do they have active social media channels?
- Is everything connected to everything else so that no matter what door someone walks through to find you, e.g., your website, can they quickly find you on other platforms, e.g., your social channels. In other words, no dead ends.
- Can they speak?
- Do they use sound bites?
- Are they compelling and engaging?
- Is there proof of these things? (Video and audio clips with sound bites)
Before reaching out to media, all of these pieces have to be in place. We live in a world where judgement happens quickly. You have seconds to get your point across, so you must be able to deliver. There is no warming up any more. You have to start with the climax.
You know how much extra time you have on a given day, right? Well, it’s the same with media, except that they have people and authors pitching them all day long. They will look for the smallest thing to cast you aside.
Here’s the good news: I promise you that if you have targeted the right person, you have your media strategy lined up, you can speak succinctly and in sound bites, you have a unique, compelling idea, then you’re going to get coverage. Media is looking for great people and fabulous ideas. They want the next great idea all the time, but that’s the key. You have to have a great idea and it has to be presented well. You would be amazed at how few people can pull that off.
As you may know, I have a side project as the booking producer for a major podcast, Something You Should Know Show, which is consistently in the top 15 on iTunes. That’s the top 15 out of 300,000 downloadable podcasts. Not bad. I am always looking for fabulous guests and I’ll let you in on a little secret. Even many of the PR professionals are not getting it right. It truly is astonishing, so believe me, there is room for you.
What to do? Here are some tips:
- Be sure and include a video and/or audio clip with your best, concise pitch. It’s best if it’s you doing another interview so the producer can see you in action, however it can be a clip of you speaking to a group or a Ted Talk if you have one.
- Don’t make the producer go and look for your best material. Have it right there. Include links. Include the best pieces of your bio, not a great big long list of what you’ve done, but the highlights.
- Start with a hook. Keep it short. Include links and other important pieces that show who you are and what you do. Include a summary if you have one.
- Don’t be overly friendly if you don’t actually know the person. Pretending you’re best pals can be a complete turn off, so just be natural and friendly.
Being concise is not limited to media, however. Think about it. If you’re looking for a agent, a distributor, if you want to speak…in all of these situations and many others, you need to get to the heart of it right away.
What you want to avoid is putting others in a position of having to “figure you out,” because they’re not going to. They might try for a few moments, but it’s easier to move onto the next thing than to try and figure out what in the world you’re trying to say.
Bottom Line: Practice.
Practice your pitch. Practice talking about your book. Practice in the mirror. Practice with everyone you meet. After your very first sentence do they lean in and say, “Tell me more…” or do their eyes glaze over? If it’s the latter, keep working at it.
The publicist of the past booked media. They lined up interviews, features, reviews, excerpts, etc., and that is still important. However, getting the author ready, and being strategic about it, is the critical first piece, and a media strategist will help you do that.
To your success!
P.S. When you’re ready, it may be time for a media strategy session. Let me know and we’ll talk.