Digital Marketing: Where PR and Marketing Meet

In many organizations PR and Marketing are not created equal.  Oftentimes PR reports to Marketing. Why?  If you are a public relations professional you know how much your expertise impacts marketing strategies, especially due to the evolution of the digital landscape.  You know where PR and Marketing Meet.

How PR and Marketing are Tied Together

Marketing will handle advertising, design, and copywriting for campaigns.   PR creates stories and messaging from information and research.  Then a publicist or media relations professional will pitch those stories to generate awareness for the brand, product, or individual. PR can do the job using stories on tv, radio, print, and online media.  But, if many people are not watching television news sources, listening to talk radio, or reading newspapers, how does the message get out? According to the Pew Research Center, the largest audience on cable or network news is around 7.5 million for evening, network programs.  Everything else is well below 5 million viewers. Radio World reports that radio listenership is struggling since the pandemic began.  There have been multiple reports on the decrease in traditional newspaper and magazine readership.  Media is more digital and online and this is where PR and Marketing meet.

Digital PR and Why Marketing Needs Us

Public Relations professionals have become much more active creating content for social media and websites.  Content driven social media campaigns are a combination of design efforts from Marketing and  writing from the PR department.  The snappy copy produced in  Marketing is fine for advertising.  But PR people know how to pitch an angle and write the appropriate copy to go along with it.   Also PR people build relationships, which we know is critical for growing a loyal and engaged audience.

Teamwork Leads to Success

So what does it look like when these two departments meet on equal footing?  In an ideal world a team that includes marketing and pr will get together to plan a campaign.  Tasks will be delegated and a structured, executable campaign will result.  Marketing will handle the images and copy, hashtag and competitor research.  It will also have developed a value proposition and target customer(s).  PR  will write blogs, articles, and social media copy.  These professionals will plan a media strategy that includes social platforms and content, plan events, and train spokespeople.

Like me, some PR people are full on Marketers.  In the end we all are determining what motivates people and why they do what they do.  In a sense, people watching and that’s the fun part.

For more information on marketing and pr visit our blog and check out:

Marketing is Not Public Relations

 

 

 

Writer’s Block: Simple Solutions

Writer’s block can happen at any time.  It is not a commentary on your ability to write.  All kinds of artists experience blocks including musicians and performers.  I am one of these and sometimes I just can’t practice.  A trick I learned is to set a timer for 15 minutes.  Practice for only that amount of time until you can start to increase it.  It is a weird trick, but it works.  Many creative people, in particular, experience writer’s block and other forms of being “stuck”.  Who else is terrified sitting at a blank screen and a keyboard?

A blog on Psychology Today.com by Susan Reynolds says “Writing isn’t for sissies”.  She suggests that there is a lot of “thinking” that goes into writing.  We think harder than most people who are (paraphrasing here) happy to punch in and punch out of a job without investing too much of themselves.  Maybe that’s true, but I can’t speak for everyone else.

Writer’s Block Scenarios

Here are a few things that have happened to me when I write and my opinion of the causes.

  1. Thinking really hard on a subject or about a character and trying to find a first line to start the narrative (fear of failure; perfectionism)
  2. Sitting down to write and having a running list of things to do playing in the background (distractions)
  3. Writing along and all of a sudden you forget where you are and can’t remember what you were supposed to be writing (jolted out of a flow and you can’t get back in)
  4. Having too many ideas (distractions)
  5. Worrying about the reader of your material.  Are you writing something that anyone cares about? (existential crisis)

All of these are either a result of internal stress or will cause an unending loop or anxiety.  So what do I do?

Claire’s Simple Solutions

I’m not a doctor or therapist, but I have had multiple careers and have worked as an artist or with artists most of my life.  I am super familiar with creative blocks and I have some suggestions to offer for each of the numbers above.

  • 1A: Walk away from the screen and do something else.  If it isn’t going to happen then let it go and open up to other possibilities.
  • 2A: Make a physical list of all the things from the tape in your head. Usually the list is a lot smaller than it seemed to be a minute ago when it was lodged in your gray matter.
  • 3A: Stand up, stretch, walk around a bit, make some tea, get a snack, and return to your work after a few minutes.  Your flow has already been interrupted so the best thing you can do is relieve the pressure.  You also want to shut down the voice in your head that is beating you up for not getting back into the groove immediately.
  • 4A: For too many ideas, bring out the pencil or iphone list app and jot them down.  Organize them into categories (if this applies) and leave it until tomorrow.
  • 5A: When you write a first draft, write what you feel you want or need to write.  Let an editor or a reader tell you what’s wrong with what you’ve done.  You can’t be your own critic and create at the same time.

To find out more about a wide range of topics, please visit our blog.  You can also check out these articles directly:

Creating Your Author Bio

Quality is Key When Competing with 1 Million Books

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Ready to Promote Your Fall 2021 Book

The glory of working in retail  is that you always need to think six months ahead of when your product is going to be ready.  Books are products and you want to have an opportunity to make noise leading up to the holiday shopping season.  Here is a list of things you should be doing right now to promote your Fall 2021 book.

Digital Platform

Is your social media strategy and online profile up to date?  To promote your Fall 2021 release,  you should have a plan to market yourself and your work on your social channels.   Create or polish a content calendar, and make sure you have a clear schedule of how you are going to market your content and when, leading up to the publication.

If you are not subscribed to a scheduling platform like Hootsuite, now would be a good time to set that up.  On Hootsuite you can schedule content in advance so you can make sure you are keeping to your calendar.

Review Copies for Publicity

Are you going to use digital galleys or print review copies, or both?  I recommend printing some review copies for people who still like to have a physical book.  Physical copies of the book are great for Instagram influencers.  They will often take a picture of your book when they receive it and tag you in the post.  Now you have a new, original image to use on your own digital platforms.

Lead-Time to Publicize your Fall 2021 Book

If you want reviewers and other media entities to cover your book, you need to allow four to six weeks for pitching and follow up.  When you are asked for a review copy, you need to prepare to be patient.  It can take up to three months for the book to be read and reviewed.  Sometimes you can get faster results, but in general the lead time for books is three to four months at minimum.

Interviews for online publications, radio, podcasts, and television can be pitched with a shorter amount of lead time.  But if you want to feel confident about the amount of coverage you are going to get, it is still a good idea to allow up to two months to get responses and schedule interviews.

For more information on when to publish check out our blog including this infographic on when to publish your book:

When should you publish your book? An Infographic

 

 

How to Work with a Publicist

I was scrolling through some searches today, looking for different topics I might cover in this week’s blog.  I decided not to write about digital pr and marketing today.  Instead, I am going to talk about relationships.  Specifically, how to work with a publicist.

Don Hires a Publicist

Don is a first time author whose novel is being published by a small press.  He hires a publicist because he wants to make a name for himself and sell books.  He has a modest following on social media and he has contributed a few pieces to some small blogs.  He has a day job that takes most of his time, and writing the book was challenging.  Now that he knows he has a professional on his side, he is looking forward to making some money and hopefully signing a big publishing contract for the next book.

The Publicist understands that Don wants to get coverage for himself and his new book.  He thinks the book is terrific and has had really good success getting blog reviews and some small publications to cover a first time author.  Don agrees to a short contract for a review and interview campaign and The Publicist starts getting the word out.

Three months later, The Publicist has secured about a dozen hits on moderate level blogs and a review in an independent magazine.  He also got a brief Q&A on Don’s college alma mater’s website.  The Publicist was happy with the job, but Don was not.

Why Is Don Unhappy?

If I look back at the reasons why Don hired a publicist, it is clear why he is unhappy.  He hired a publicist to “make a name for himself and sell books.”  The Publicist heard that, and filed it away under “this is what every author wants, but everyone knows how this works”.  Each entity went into this relationship blind, with notions about the process that were not based in reality.

To ensure that this doesn’t happen to you, here are some questions to ask a publicist that should help make your campaign a good experience.

10 Questions to Ask a Publicist

  1. In an ideal world, what kind of results can I expect?  What are some samples of coverage author like me receive?
  2. What will I need to do to help you succeed at your job?
  3. Will I make my money back?
  4. How many books will I sell, approximately?
  5. What services do you think I need?
  6. What services will you be providing?
  7. How long will it take?
  8. Can we schedule a phone call a month from now to go over how my campaign is going?
  9. Can I get my money back if I am not happy with the way things are going?
  10. Do you complete any tasks that are open at the end of the contract?

10 Answers You Should Hear From a Publicist

These are some answers you might hear to questions you ask a publicist.

  1. This answer is going to be book and author specific.  The kind of coverage you get will vary based on what the book is about, your background and experience, where you live, who you know, etc.
  2. This answer is also a bit specific, but at the very least the publicist will need a picture, a bio, a book jacket, a contact list from you if you have people who can help, and a copy of the manuscript or book for the publicist to read.
  3.  I can’t say for certain, but most authors do not earn back their marketing expenses on their first books.
  4. Publicists do not sell books.  Our job is to raise awareness of you and your book so that there are increasing opportunities for you to sell copies.
  5. This answer is going to be based on the job itself.
  6. This is going to be based on your budget and what the book needs
  7. Whichever contract term you select should be ample time to meet the deliverables outlined by the publicist.
  8. Yes, of course we like to have status meetings with our clients
  9. There is a cancellation clause in the agreement.  We can’t guarantee results, but we do not sell services that we do not feel we can provide effectively.
  10. If there are any leads that require additional follow up, we will make sure to follow through.

For more information on hiring publicists check out our blogs, How Much Does a Publicist Cost? and Do You Know What a Book Publicist Does? (previously printed in Publishers Weekly magazine)

 

Marketing Fiction: Beyond Book Reviews

At the recent Pikes Peak Writers Conference (PPWC) I gave a presentation on identifying major and minor themes that can help with marketing fiction.   Let’s face it.   For indie authors, book reviews in any traditional sense are difficult to come by.  We all want to end up in the New York Times, but there are over 1 million books published every year and only 52 New York Times Book Reviews.  Even with a publicist who knows people at the Times who make editorial decisions, by the numbers it looks like a long haul to getting that review in the paper.

The Problem with “Book” Marketing

Many writers think of their books as singular products, referring to them as my “novel”, “mystery series”, “fantasy”, “romance”, “coming-of-age novel”, etc.  I have been working on marketing fiction for twenty-five years and I can honestly tell you that trying to sell your book to a reviewer based on, “this is a great new novel” is not going to cut it in our competitive world.

One Solution to Fiction Promotion Challenges

There are many strategies you can use, like digital pr, but the one I suggest first is dissecting your book to go beyond book reviews. In my presentation, I described the process using a book we all know, The Great Gatsby.  I analyzed it through a more comprehensive lens–digging deep into any promotional angle I could find. Here is an outline of the process you can try on your book(s).

The Deep Dive for Marketing Fiction

  1. Open a blank document or take a clean sheet of paper. Write the title and genre of your book at the top.
  2. Make two columns, one called “book assets” and the other “my assets”
  3. In the “book assets” column write a list of the locations in your book; any topics that it covers (in Gatsby the list included Prohibition and Class Wars); and anything particularly interesting about the characters.
  4. In the “my assets” column make a list of things that pertain to you and your brand, such as where you live and where you grew up.  Add items like what you do beyond writing; any parts of the book based on your own personal experience; why you wrote what you wrote; and any additional interests, hobbies, or skills that you have.
  5. Now make a list at the bottom of the page of where you can imagine finding interest in the items in either list.  Is there a story in the media that relates to your topics?  In addition to being a novel, does you book include anything of interest to health care, psychology, or business? If your book is a mystery, note mystery outlets that you would target online and in print.
  6. Finally, pretend you are a reporter and write some mock headlines based on your list of angles and outlets.  The Great Gatsby in today’s world might inspire a headline like “Class Divides in New Novel Mirror the Culture of Celebrity and Billionaires vs. Everyone Else”; or “New Novel Explores Whether Class is Defined by your Market Value or by Knowledge and Manners.”

Thank You English Teachers

Remember English Class?  Yup, this process has some similarities.  The exercise will help you think about marketing fiction in a broader way.  It will also help enhance the number of opportunities it will have in the media.  Marketing fiction is always a challenge.  The first step to getting more press and attention is to see how many latent themes and topics your book can address.

For information on marketing fiction, see Case Studies #3

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