In an article I read years ago on a PR site, one of the things that stood out and I still remember was that clients need to anticipate dedicating a certain amount of their own time to PR efforts every week. For authors, this may be daunting because it isn’t what they had in mind when they set out to write books. Even small business owners with brands to promote don’t have the time to commit to working an effective campaign. And “work with” is the operative term.
Because it still happens. We are hired for a book publicity/brand campaign and the author or client checks out after the first phone call. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t go on working without getting paid. We often find ourselves stalled, with a lot of questions, and in the position of hunting authors down for things we need. The ugly truth of it is no matter how wonderful we think we are, publicists can’t work in a vacuum and successful publicity doesn’t happen in isolation.
Today’s campaigns are much more than just booking interviews. To raise awareness, sell product, and establish a brand there needs to be a clear strategy for media relations, content marketing, and social media. There are just so many places audiences can be now, and the great thing about it is they are able to be reached directly–from the tiny niche to B2B to a mass consumer group. So where once you could put together a press release and some talking points and go for days, weeks or even months, now you have to be prepared to shift strategies, find new audiences, recraft messages, target audiences, and the like. Sound overwhelming? It can be, but as a PR professional I offer 5 things you can do to make the process more efficient, collaborative and successful.
- Plan regular check in meetings. Everyone wants to be on the same page and to make sure the trains are running on time, so set up a bi-weekly or even weekly call when you, your agency, and any other entities you suggest can get together to find out what is working and what isn’t.
- Provide as much information about yourself and your book/brand that you can. You know your brand better than anyone else. It’s also likely that you have collected a lot of information about the industry or topic; have an extensive bio of your own to share on the subject; and have met “influencers” or media contacts that could help. Prepare a package for your publicist with a list of contacts you know a little, more than a little, and a lot, as well as your bio, CV, articles, tapes of interviews you have done, and any other relevant material.
- Share your own ideas. Just because you’ve hired someone doesn’t mean you don’t have some of your own ideas. It’s better to have an exchange with your PR people so all potential leads and strategies can be vetted properly. Brainstorm!
- Keep current on your topic. Watch the news, read about your topic or industry, and network with other like minded people. Then tell your publicist about it. You also know your area of interest the best and it makes sense that sometimes there will be something that you find that your agency hasn’t. The publicist can’t have an ego about this, because it’s a benefit to all to keep each other informed. Leads can come from all kinds of places.
- Be clear about your schedule and availability. I have literally chased people to book interviews. Believe me, it can be hard enough to get the opportunity to be on The Today Show, so please don’t vanish in the hour of need. Another way to avoid something like this is to be totally upfront with your publicist about your schedule for the length of the contract or campaign. If you know in advance that you are going to Madagascar for a month, let your agency know! And, another benefit to keeping your schedule transparent is that there could be a media opportunity to be had where you are going or for what you are doing. I’m not talking Africa right now, but Los Angeles? That’s another story.
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