Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Barack Obama's Infomercial

Barack Obama will talk directly to the American public tonight on the major networks without pundit interference or interpretation.

On the surface, it's a great idea. Whether it's an effective strategy or not will depend on how well Obama (a) communicates his vision and (b) sets the record straight on rumors and misinformation.

I hope he tackles the "socialism" undercurrent that developed after he used the phrase "spread the wealth around." To Republicans, that phrase is the verbal equivalent of hiding the keys to the BMW -- makes 'em crazy. I think it needs clarification.

Many voters believe whatever is fed to them, without challenging or questioning it. Let's hope that those who are so easily influenced will tune in and pay attention. People should make their decision on what to vote for after contemplating the facts, not the innuendo.

Please stop back here tomorrow and offer your communications assessment of Obama's infomercial. Tell us if it was effective.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

PRWeb Offers Free Small Business Publicity Webinar

Online press release distribution service is offering a free small business publicity seminar tomorrow, October 22, 2008, at 2 p.m. The event features Entrepreneur's editor along with the host of Startup BizCast. Other upcoming events will include using online publicity for arts & entertainment organizations and to drive better search engine results.

Learn more and register at

Monday, October 20, 2008

How One Business Got Opportunistic

Whether I'm speaking to a group about how to generate publicity or teaching my book promotion e-course, I always nudge people to capitalize on the day's headlines to create buzz for their charity, business or book.

One of my "Book Publicity 101: How to Build Book Buzz" students did this recently, placing an essay about her book's topic in today's Christian Science Monitor. Meagan Francis, author of Table for Eight: Raising a Large Family in a Small Family World, leveraged the buzz around Sarah Palin's five children and Angelina Jolie's ongoing comments about adding to her family to place Thanks to Angelina Jolie, having lots of kids is hip. It's a well-written piece that tells us more about why Meagan has four children and another on the way -- and one that I shared with my mother, who had seven children in 10 years back when that was more the norm than the exception.

Meagan's high-profile success is just one example of the kind of exposure your company, organization, product or service can enjoy by reacting quickly and effectively to the day's news. Most of us will have the most success by adding a local angle to a national story (a TV station in my area interviewed "local Joe the Plumbers" last week), but we can also score a big one -- as Meagan did today. Great job, Meagan!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

5 Surefire Ways to Promote Fiction

It's harder to promote fiction than non-fiction, which is why some book publicists won't do it. It takes more creativity, thought, and inside-out thinking, but once you get the hang of it, it's both fun and rewarding. Here are five tips to get you thinking about the news value in your novel:

1. Tap into what you learned while writing your novel. Did you learn about colonial America or a specific profession while writing the book? Use this new knowledge as a springboard for publicity -- free media exposure. The author of an historical romance novel set in New York’s Hudson River Valley, for example, can write and distribute a tip sheet on the top romantic and historical attractions in that region or pitch a local newspaper or regional magazine on an article about the area’s most romantic date destinations. The goal of the latter? To get the author quoted as an expert source because this would require using the book title as the author's credential.

2. Find the nonfiction nuggets in your manuscript and use them to create newsworthy material for relevant media outlets. Is your heroine a jilted wife starting over in the workforce as – let’s say – an account executive at a high-flying packaging design firm who finds love with her client, a studly executive at a consumer products company? You’ve got publicity opportunities with the packaging and marketing trade magazines. Is she a radio jock? The female morning drive time personalities would love to interview you by phone.

What about locations, products or services in your novel? A story set in a national park or a convenience store gives you news pegs for exposure in the relevant trade magazines. A character’s obsession with a little known beverage brand could get your book into that company’s employee newsletter, too.

If you’re writing your novel now, work in some nonfiction nuggets you can capitalize on later.

3. Market to “warm.” “Warm” in this case refers to those people who are most likely to buy your book. Is your protagonist a nurse? Target regional and national nursing trade magazines. Is your story set in a real location? The people there will be interested in knowing more about your novel. Do you have a blog with a strong following? Tell them first when your book is available for purchase – they know and like you already and will want to support you (and might even help you spread the word).

4. Think globally but connect locally. Make friends with your local booksellers by offering to do interactive book signings – a presentation about the book-writing process rather than a straight book signing. Don't tell your life story (unless your book is a memoir!). Explain some of your challenges and how you overcame them. Share a few research secrets. Talk about the nuts and bolts of your book – how you named your characters or selected the story’s location.

Talk to local groups at their regular meetings, too, about what you learned while writing your book. Address some of the behind-the-scenes processes. Because most everyone thinks that they, too, could write a book – if only they didn’t have that full-time job that takes all their time or that new baby who doesn’t nap – they will welcome a chance to hear about how you overcame similar obstacles to bring your story to print.

When considering which groups to offer your speaking services to, put a priority on those “warm” audiences – using the examples above, that might be nurses, packaging designers, or radio personalities. Sell books everywhere you speak, of course.

5. Learn from the masters. Who are the gurus in your category? What did they do early in their careers to spread the word about their books? What are they doing now that’s innovative, interesting, successful, attention-getting? When it comes to marketing and promotion, there’s really no such thing as a “new idea” anymore – so take an old idea, put your spin on it, and see where it takes you.

Have you successfully promoted your fiction? Tell us what works best for you.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Should You Use Social Networking Sites to Build Buzz?

I interviewed social networking expert Paul Gillin for the September issue of my Build Book Buzz free e-zine; here's what I learned about using social networking sites to build buzz:
  1. It's essentially a process for building relationships one-by-one. If you're lucky, you might get a little viral action out of it.
  2. Because it's not a great method for reaching a large number of prospects quickly, it will help our businesses and organizations the most if what we're trying to do is establish our credibility as experts. For example, I will probably focus my social networking efforts on showing my expertise in a way that might generate speaking engagements rather than promoting my writing business or selling more books.
  3. Good use of social networking sites and activities will have the greatest impact on businesses that have a very focused target market. That might be based on geography -- your own community, for example -- or a niche that is reachable through special interest networks.
To learn what Gillin had to say, subscribe at and use the link in the subscription confirmation e-mail to read the September 2008 issue on the archive page.