“Um, so what is it exactly that you do?”

television studio set

“Um, so what is it exactly that you do?”

I get asked that question a lot, so I figure it’s probably about time that I explained what exactly a publicist is and how he or she may be able to help you meet your goals in terms of media and exposure.

You see, some confuse a publicist with a publisher, an agent, a promoter, etc., and so in order to shed some light on this, I’ve decided that every Tuesday,Thursday and Sunday for the next couple of weeks, I’m going to throw open the doors on publicity. I’m tired of all the confusion and people not understanding what publicity is and how to get it, and I’m going to invite people to share the information. No need for anyone to be in the dark anymore. I’m going to take some time and explain what a publicist is, what she or he does, and how you can embrace this process and make it work for you, whatever it is you’re promoting — a business, book, product, trainings, workshops, etc. In fact, I’ve just decided that I’m going to call it the Two-Week Publicity Crash Course. How’s that? OK, so let’s begin:

The definition of media has changed over the last few years. It used to be that to get publicity you needed “earned media” (which I call “other media”.). All this means is that some other media person is involved in the spreading of your message. In order to reach your target market, you had to pitch the gatekeeper and get him or her interested in your story. It could be an online journalist, blogger, radio or TV host, or whatever but someone else is involved.

Now there is “you media” which consists of all the content generation you do. “You media” is generated through your website, blog, articles you write, videos you create, podcast you record, etc. You’re in charge and you’re putting out your own message to your own networks and asking others to share your material with their networks. This can be very effective, but I have found that it only takes a person so far, and then if they want to grow, they need to bring in the big guns.

Here is what a publicist is:

A publicist is someone who works with earned media (the big guns) to bring stories out into the limelight. In addition, a publicist can help you with positioning yourself and making sure you to come across well as you build out your platform. A good publicist has plenty of relationships with media; They know how it works, they’re experienced at sharing story ideas and can significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to secure earned media and get you exposure that you might never be able to get on your own. In the world of books, a publicist helps to get you media attention whether it’s reviews, features, excerpts, interviews or whatever.

An agent, on the other hand, is the one who sells your manuscript to a publisher. He or she will work with you on the book proposal, and give you some ideas about building out your platform. They understand the business behind publishing, such as copyrights, foreign rights, digital rights, and contracts. They are in your corner and can give you extremely valuable advice.

The publisher is the one who buys your book, and then invests the money needed to create the book, including editing, design, all production, and sets up distribution. Depending on whether you’re a lead book, they may have a marketing and publicity plan for your book as well.

The publicist (in this case, me) is the one who promotes you and the book to the media.

Another route that is becoming increasingly popular is self publishing. Those who already have a very strong platform and active networks may do well by publishing the book themselves and not going the agent and publisher route. In this case, all the production costs fall on the author, in addition to distribution, marketing and publicity. If the book is good, it’s been edited well, has a great cover, a unique message and has skillful positioning, it can also do well with media.

There are a number of different options for publishing now, and the most crucial thing to know is that your goals and objectives for the book and your business determines the kind of publishing you should do. It’s not the other way around. This is key, and it’s probably the biggest mistake I see people make.

Here is what a publicist is not: It not your best friend so you can cry on her shoulder. It’s not your mom. A publicist doesn’t just brag on you no matter what. A good publicist will be your cheerleader when it’s appropriate and will be a truth-teller when it is necessary. A publicist can be a fantastic guide into the world of media and help you to get coverage in all the places that are best for you and your book.

What’s really fun is that I’ve had my own publicity firm for over 18 years now, and we’ve changed with the times incorporating what is necessary, and eliminating what is no longer needed. Through testing and experimenting and discovering successful strategies, I have created something very exciting, which I call a Wave. A Wave is a package where you are the VIP and I do the publicity for you and with you. If that sounds tantalizing to you, make sure you stay tuned because on February 28th I’m making a very special announcement.

Part 2 in the Two Week Publicity Crash Course is coming up on Sunday. Meanwhile, how media savvy are you? This is a good assessment of your strengths (and what might need a little work). Take the How Media Savvy are You Quiz here.

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