9 Things Every Publicist Does (Differently) That You Should Do, Too!

By:  Post can be found here

People will ask me all the time, “Why do I need a publicist?” If you have to ask the question, chances are you probably need one. Why? Because there are too many stories, too many angles, and too many opportunities you might miss by not knowing the rules of the game, so to speak. Authors, speakers, small business owners (turned authors) often launch headlong into their marketing campaign with little or no regard for the steps and the process of getting media. Some authors stumble into success after success, and that’s great, but it’s often not the norm. Why? Because in our zeal to tell the world about our story, we often stumble over our own efforts. We send pitches that are too long, or send them to the wrong person. Or we get a media person on the phone and fumble our elevator pitch. All of these things can rob authors of the chance to get some coverage for their book .

Over the years, a lot has changed in publicity. Players have come and gone, pitching windows have narrowed, and with so many stories vying for airtime, your 15 minutes of fame often seems like 15 seconds. To be successful, not just once but continually, you need to understand how publicity people view each facet of their job (and the pitch) and how they garner the media they do. Generally it’s not one thing, it’s a collection of tasks publicity people do over and over that gets them traction on a story.

Let’s look at some of the things we do on an ongoing basis and how you might be able to apply them to your own marketing efforts:

    1. Think like a journalist: This is probably the most important and the most difficult. When I say “think like a journalist” what I mean is thinking objectively and not thinking about yourself, your book, or your pitch because those don’t matter. The only thing a journalist cares about is “Will this interest my readers.” If you can work using that objectivity, you’ll gain greater access to media, both online and off, than you could have ever imagined.
    1. Know the rules: When I say rules, I mean not just the rules of your industry but the rules of pitching. When to pitch, who to pitch, how to pitch. A good publicist knows this, updates her information constantly (because media changes, moves, etc.) and lives and dies by these rules. Why? Get a reporter angry and you’ll see what I mean. Turn in a story late and see how much media coverage you end up getting. A lot of authors think they are special and different, and the rules don’t apply to them. Yes, you are special and different and yes, the rules still apply to you.
    1. Read outside of your market: They say that, eventually, everything ties into everything. This may or may not be true for all industries, but when it comes to promotion you’d be surprised how much a ripple over there can affect what you’re doing here. Reading outside of your market, mostly related to changes affecting other markets, serves a couple of purposes. First, the importance of creativity when you’re pitching can’t be overstated and sometimes to be creative, you have to look through your world using a different lens. By digging into and outside of your market, you’ll be able to gain access to information that could affect your message long-term, or perhaps give your brain enough juice and insight to bring a new set of ideas that will create some great pitches.
    1. Google Alerts: You can’t possibly follow every thread of discussion around your topic, or know where and when it’s being covered, but you do need to stay up on all of it; that’s where Google Alerts comes in. Yes, there are more elaborate tracking services, but Google Alerts is a great way to know when and where your topic is being featured. Also important, you’ll see who’s getting quoted and which media is covering your industry.
    1. Understand the importance of local media: Many times clients want to overlook local media. It’s not as glamourous or as big as national media. Well, that may be true but there’s gold in your back yard. We love local campaigns and local media loves their regional “celebrities.” If you haven’t done a local outreach you should. Additionally, network with local media by going to media events like Press Clubs (which anyone can register for). You never know where this will lead you, and you never know where your local contact may wind up on the media food chain. Years ago I worked with a producer for a local (small) Los Angeles station. We stayed in touch over the years and now she’s one of the head producers at CNN.
    1. Local vs. National: And speaking of local publicity — local media loves a local angle on a national story. If you can hook your book into something that’s going on nationally, then I suggest you pitch it to your local market. Good publicity people are always on the look-out for regional tie-ins, they make for great media!
    1. Media leads: I subscribe to several media leads services and I scan them, not just for existing clients, but to note trends nationally. Doing a quick scan of leads is a fantastic way to see what’s piquing the media interest. As you start doing that, you will also find that you’re responding to more and more stories because you’re starting to see tie-ins that you may not have seen previously (which is helped along by #3).
    1. Realize the importance of a subject line: I know that the topic of subject lines in email pitching has been covered (a lot), but I can’t state enough how important it is or how much time a good publicist can spend agonizing over it. Don’t just willy-nilly point and click your way through your media pitching — subject lines are extremely significant, and most publicity people I know spend a lot of time crafting, redrafting, editing and tweaking them. You should, too.
    1. It’s all about relationships: Once you start getting media, remember that staying in touch with the person who interviewed you is important. Find them on LinkedIn, thank them for the story they did on you (I still send hand-written thank you notes) and then stay in touch a few times a year. Perhaps you can comment on a story they did or send them a quick update or a copy of your latest book. If you can become a reliable media source for someone, you’ll likely always be in their rolodex even when they move on. Just like the example I gave above, media can move, and if you’re lucky, your information will keep moving with them.

Being a publicist is more than just knowing how to craft a snazzy email, it’s a process and an ongoing effort. If done right, you can really pull in a lot of great mentions, features and even reviews. Building media relationships takes a while, and there are no shortcuts, but if done effectively, these relationships can grow and flourish throughout your career. And remember: Media loves media. The more you get, the more you’ll get. Know the rules, honor the rules and perhaps if you’re lucky, the media will beat a path to your door.

Advertisements

How To Respond To HARO/ProfNet Queries Without Pissing Writers Off

This post can be found here

Think your peach defuzzer is the greatest product in the known universe, or rep a doctor who’s on the road to curing a formerly incurable disease? Then you’re probably signed up as an expert source on services like Help a Reporter (HARO)and ProfNet.

I use these services as just one of many tools in my arsenal to find expert and “real life” sources, but often I end up frustrated — and without usable sources. To be fair, sometimes my requests are kind of crazy — like I’m looking for a Hispanic woman in her 40s who lives in the Midwest and drives a Suburban. But many times, it’s the people who respond to queries that make a writer want to drive flaming daggers into her eyes.

Don’t get me wrong — I love and appreciate these services. They’re free to journalists, and I often find good sources through them, like the beautiful bridal entrepreneur-slash-cage fighter I ended up profiling for Fortune Small Business and later for Inc. But the successes are tempered by avalanches of off-point e-mails from PR reps and expert sources.

If you use these services as a PR rep or a source, here are some tips for boosting your chances of a reply when you respond to a writer’s query. (Yes, writers, these requests confusingly are called queries.) I’ll use some examples from recent queries I sent in.

1. Read the Freakin’ Query!

Lat week I sent out the following query:

Are We Detoxing Too Much?
I’m looking for experts such as MDs who can discuss whether the detoxing trend is going too far, in terms of detoxing our homes, our bodies, and our food. Magazines and books are telling us to purge everything from house dust to bleach to non-organic foods, and more and more people are going on fasts and detox diets. How do you know if you’re going too far? And how much do we REALLY need to detox? I do not need to hear from vendors about detoxing products.

You get it, right? I’m looking for information on the negative side of detoxing — how much is too much and how to know if you’ve gone too far. And yet, almost 100% of the responses I received were from medical professionals who offered to talk about why we need to go on detox diets and how to do it. It’s like they scanned the query, saw the word “detox,” and blasted off an e-mail about the wonders of detoxing. If you can’t (or won’t) read, how can we trust you as an expert?

So please…READ the query!

2. Sell Yourself

Every once in a while I get a response that says something like, “I can help you with your article. Call me.” Yeah, I’ll get right on that. Please, tell me who you are and what makes you an expert in the topic I queried.

3. Remember That Our Job Is Not to Sell Your Product

Of course, people who respond to writer queries have something to sell, whether it’s a product, a viewpoint, or something else. But you need to use some smarts to determine when it’s right to make a blatant product pitch. For example, here’s a query I sent out yesterday:

For a national health magazine, I’m looking for beauty news that’s NOT product-specific and that is backed by studies. For example, I don’t care that Jane’s Sun Kissed Skin Lotion was proven to prevent wrinkles, but I do care that a recent study published in the Journal of Dermatology concluded that the antioxidants in pistachios were proven to whiten teeth. Please, no product pitches.

I’m guessing you noticed that I did not want product-specific pitches. I mean, I made it pretty clear, right? So why do I get replies from people telling me, for example, that the FatBlaster Brand Laser Machine has been proven to reduce the look of cellulite? I guess the reps think, “Well, it can’t hurt to send it along anyway.” But guess what? Itcan hurt, because I’ll be sending very negative vibes your way, and I will remember you when you contact me again.

4. Don’t Add Us to Lists Unless We Ask You To

I can’t even count how many PR reps add my address to their press lists after harvesting it from a HARO or ProfNet query. I know this because I have a special e-mail address that I use only for queries on these services, so when I start getting press releases at that address, I know how I ended up on the list. Many people see I’m a writer — what type? who cares? — and decide that maybe I’d like to write about their clients who run a cracker factory in Boise. But even if a PR rep groks my specialties, I don’t want to be added to press lists unless I ask for it. Just because I wrote about safe web surfing in 2001 doesn’t mean that I want to receive press releases on that topic for the rest of my days. I get enough e-mail as it is.

Now HARO has a special feature that hides your e-mail address on your queries so this is less of an issue, but as soon as you respond to a PR rep they have your e-mail address and can add it to their press lists, so the problem hasn’t been completely eradicated.

5. Make Sure Your Client Is Available

It sucks when a PR rep responds to a HARO or ProfNet request with what sounds like the perfect source, but when you try to set up the interview the source goes AWOL. Check with your source to make sure he’s interested in doing the interview before you respond to a query.

Is This Publicist Wrong or Right?

Sometimes I think PR people get into the industry for the wrong reason.  Kim K’s former publicist is bitter for some reason.  My question to you and feel free to comment, should he be talking about her business?

Kim Kardashian Divorce: Publicist Accuses Star of Divorcing Humphries for Money

A former publicist for reality TV star Kim Kardashian told RadarOnline.com that his former client “is very selfish.” Jonathan Jaxson, owner of JJ Public Relations, also said of Kardashian, “She knew marriage was a bad P.R. move as her value has dropped since the wedding.”

Following the announcement that the TV star had filed for divorce from a marriage just 72 days old, speculation has been rampant as to Kardashian’s motivations.

Added to this suspicion is soon to be ex-husband Kris Humphries’s statement, Monday: “I love my wife and am devastated to learn she filed for divorce.”

According to Jaxson, who claims to have known Kardashian since 2007, including during her relationship with NFL star Reggie Bush, and has assisted her through a number of publicized scandals, “When we first met it was all about getting publicity and turning her into a star.”

Jaxson suggested that he was not surprised by the news of the TV star’s divorce and explained that even before Kardashian became a household name, through her hit reality TV show, she had always sought publicity.

“I staged so many paparazzi moments for her, I arranged for her to be coming out of a jewelry store and made it look like Reggie was planning to propose to her,” Jaxson said.

According to numerous reports, Kardashian exploited her wedding for profit. She reportedly received $1.5 million dollars from People magazine for exclusive rights to photos of the event.

In a statement issued on her website, Kardashian denied that she profited from her wedding:

“There are also reports that I made millions of dollars off of the wedding. These reports are simply not true and it makes me so sad to have to even clarify this. I’m so grateful to everyone who took the time to come to my wedding and I’ll be donating the money for all the gifts to the Dream Foundation.”

As for her marriage with Humphries, Kardashian said:

“First and foremost, I married for love. I can’t believe I even have to defend this. I would not have spent so much time on something just for a TV show! I share so much of my life on a reality show, that contemplating whether to even film my wedding was a tough decision to make, and maybe it turned out to not be the smartest decision.”

The TV star continued by defending her filming of personal events:

“But it’s who I am! We filmed Kourtney giving birth, Khloe getting married, break ups, make ups, our best moments and our worst moments. These were all real moments. That’s what makes us who we are. We share, we give, we love and we are open!”