Publicity 101: Publicity and Book Promotion During a Crisis

Unfortunately, “publicity and book promotion during a crisis” has been a recurring theme throughout my career in publishing.  I was the Associate Director of Publicity at Little, Brown when September 11th happened.  Since then there have been a series of storms, hurricanes, and financial crashes.  Our current state of affairs with an international pandemic is probably the most daunting.  But as I said in a webinar I gave last Friday, books entertain and inform us by telling stories that offer an escape.  They also document a history that we can look back on to try to find answers about what we might expect during and at the end of our struggles.  Since we know that books (and their authors) can be helpful in a difficult time, the question is how do we publicize and promote our work right now?

Important Questions to Answer

First, we need to be clear about our personal intentions, which are to “sell” our messages, brands, services and/or books.  Maybe selling products for money isn’t our main mission, but we are all trying to remain relevant and to continue to generate awareness of what we can offer.  I tell my clients that my rule of thumb is to consider how what we are promoting helps people during this time.  I  pose these questions:

  • Am I offering news-you-can-use and expert help for people experiencing stress or anxiety?
  • Can I provide information that will move the story forward in a meaningful way?
  • Does my promotion offer a welcome distraction from the negativity in the current conversation?
  • Can I express my message in a manner that shows empathy for people who may be suffering in some way?

Each of the above relates to a specific kind of writer, expert, and book.

    • News-you-can-use is usually provided by experts.  In this case medical doctors, psychologists and financial specialists.
    • The aforementioned types can move a story forward, but so can human interest stories.  News sites and networks are lacking original coverage and there are only so many times they can report numbers and government policies.  Real people and what they are experiencing can capture the attention of audiences who are looking to identify with others.
    • Promoting your novel, whether it is a mystery or historical, is a great way to offer a distraction from the day-to-day.
    • Finally, expressing empathy and hope is often related to religious leaders, spiritualists, and anything related to inspiration or mind/body/spirit topics.

Engaging with Media During CoVid19

Many people are wondering where they can promote and publicize when producers and journalists are overwhelmed.  The internet is the answer.  Original, quality content and distribution of it in a smart and thoughtful way is going to be the best practice for most people.  See our last blog post regarding social media planning and strategy for some ideas.  You can also visit the Hootsuite blog for articles about the latest trends in social media and content.If you have a human interest story or you are an expert hoping to get some air time on the national stage, you need to do your research.  Watch/listen/read the media outlet you want to be a part of and make sure your information fits in with what is being covered.  Look for journalists by searching articles on Google related to your topic.  One thing that is very important in these times is that we don’t bombard people who are already stressed, like everyone else.

If you have any specific questions related to publicity and book promotion during a crisis, you can email me at claire@clairemckinneypr.com.  You can also subscribe to our newsletter on our website which will notify you of free weekly webinars.  Thank you for reading and stay safe.

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