Last week we talked about rejection and how to handle the “nos” you’ll get when working to publicize your books. (You can read it here.)
Ultimately, we want you to receive plenty of coverage, so to improve your chances of getting to yes sooner, do the following:
Send a great first pitch:
Seems obvious. You’d be amazed at how many don’t do this. Forget being vague, e.g., “My book is fabulous.” “Your audience will love it.” “Take a look at my book and let me know what you’d like to talk about in an interview.” Being vague is the quickest way to be rejected…and they won’t tell you that. No one is going to try to figure you out, so you have to spell it out for them. You have to tell them.
What would an interview consist of? Why you, why now? What are your talking points? Why are you a good fit for their audience? It takes some thought, but you can do it. You simply have to change your thinking.
You have to think like an editor or producer.
Even before sending the pitch:
Study the media outlet you’re considering first. Now, I know in the interest of time, it’s tempting not to do this and just blindly send out your pitch, but it doesn’t work. I also know that the smallest of the small bloggers think you should read all about them before sending a pitch, which also isn’t likely. There is middle ground. Where does it make sense for you to be? Study them.
Now there are exceptions:
When you have timely news that can easily tie into a national story, this is when you want you get the information out there and fast. Press releases work very well in these situations. However, most of the time, you will be approaching specific media for a specific reason. Get to know them. Listen, watch or read first. Then create something you know will speak to them. You will stand out because most people are in too big of a hurry. They don’t want to take the time to do the research. Don’t let that be you. If you want coverage, this is a step you must take. (Note: Another option is to hire a publicist, because that’s what we do. We also have already established relationships with media so the research has already been done.)
Just this past week I approached a podcaster I had never worked with before. I didn’t approach him to pitch the show, but simply to introduce myself. I explained what I liked about his podcast, and even referred to several comments he made during a couple of his shows. (Yes, I take the time to listen to the podcasts, and it pays off.) Here is his response to me:
Well, considering you’re the first publicist to ever contact me who has actually listened to the podcast and not just sent me a lazy copy & paste effort, of course I’d be interested in hearing from you about potential guests.
I have a trick I like to play on people (purely for my own amusement). When they tell me they enjoyed episode “X”, I always email them back and say “Thanks, I hope you didn’t find the bit about [insert fake conversation topic that never happened] too long and boring? Then when they message back to reassure me that they actually really enjoyed that part, I know not to bother engaging with them. How you do anything is how you do everything, as the saying goes.
Anyway, anything psychology/philosophy related is up my street. Some self-help/productivity stuff is of interest, but more so from the psychology than the business angle.
Hope this helps.
Glad you enjoyed the intro, and thank you for the kind words.
Me again. I’m leaving off his name since I didn’t specifically ask him if I could use his name here.
I share this to demonstrate how you can stand out simply by being patient and reaching out to media as if they’re real people. It works. Plus, you don’t want anyone playing games with you, right? Of course not.
Be friendly, but not creepy:
When you approach someone digitally (or in person) for the first time, don’t act like you’re best friends. It’s a turn off. Be professional and personal but not stalkerish. You might want to refrain from discussing their recent social media posts as that can come across as a little too intrusive. However, if it’s an article they’ve written and published, or a show they’ve produced, then absolutely you should bring that up. It shows you’re familiar with they’re work. Who doesn’t love that?
Be persistent but not pesky:
Learn the difference. When I had a radio show, I once had a publicist trying to book her client and she called me Every. Single. Day. For three weeks she and left very long-winded messages each day on my voicemail. Finally, I told her not only was I not going to book her client, but I was never going to book any of her clients again. She was beyond pesky. A brief call or email twice a week would be ok. That said, you do have to follow up.
Most decisions for coverage are made during the follow-up process. Expect to have to check back in with editors and producers. Have a digital tickler file that tells you when it’s time to check back in. Be friendly. Remember, you’re asking them for a favor. Keep following up with gentle nudges. If they expressed interest by requesting a copy of your book, it’s OK for you to do this. (I have several effective ways for doing this, and for walking that line between being persistent and being pesky. Look for it in my new book that I’m working on right now!)
Remember, they are doing you a favor, but you are also doing them a favor. They need content. If yours is great, you’ll get coverage assuming the timing is right.
Do as they say:
Sometimes you will find yourself on a web page that says exactly how to approach that particular writer, editor or media outlet. I suggest following those instructions to the letter. Remember, media gets pitched a lot. Everyone wants coverage now, so one of the first ways they sort through who to pay attention to and who to delete is if they followed instructions. Does that mean you can never be creative in your approach? No. There are exceptions to every rule. (More of this in my new book. Am I teasing too much here?? haha…I promise it will be worth it.)
Be confident but not obnoxious:
Know how good your book and message is, but don’t be arrogant about it. Again, a fine line here, and a very important one to understand. Be confident. You are the expert. You are still asking them to help you get the message out there, so a dash of humbleness goes a long way. This kind of communication skill is an art. Practice it.
As I mentioned last week, when you hear no, it often means, “No, not right now.” One of my favorite phrases when I hear no is, “Is that ‘No, never in a million years, or no, just not right now? If i come up with another idea and angle may I run it by you? They always say yes. (Only one time in years has someone said no never in a million years.)
Take to heart the suggestions above and it will increase your yeses a thousand percent. Maybe more. Do your research and reach out to people as if they might become your next best friend. It will help you book publicity efforts immensely.
To your success!
P.S. As I’ve been sharing recently, if you know someone who would benefit from the information contained in our Savvy Sunday News send them this link: use this link now. If they sign up, both – that person and you – will each be entered in a drawing to win a complimentary book and media strategy session with me. It will be fun and very productive for both of you!
P.P.S. Happy Mother’s Day to all moms everywhere!!!