Tuesday, January 26, 2010

4 Ways to Find a Good PR Firm

You've decided not to do your own publicity (in spite of my encouragement) and want to outsource the work. How do you find a good PR firm for your publicity project? Here are a few things you can do to make sure you land with a trusted agency that will generate realistic results:

  1. Ask around. Have you seen other nonprofits or businesses enjoying impressive media exposure? Contact the organization to find out if they used an agency and if so, which one. Would they recommend them?
  2. Ask journalists at your targeted media outlets to make a recommendation based on their experience. They know which PR firms bring them good stories, sources, etc., time after time.
  3. Call the president of your community's PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) chapter, describe your needs, and ask for the names of a few members who might be qualified to do your work. (Use this link to get a chapter listing and contact information.)
  4. Post a message on a public relations forum. When looking for a crisis communications specialist for a client, I joined a PR forum so that I could ask for assistance identifying a qualified consultant, and got several great leads. My client ultimately retained one of the individuals recommended by list members and was pleased with the outcome.
Once you've identified a few potential firms, you'll want to make sure they're a good fit for you and your assignment. "How to Hire a PR Firm" provides guidelines for the next step.

What methods would you add to this list of tips?

Friday, January 22, 2010

4 Ways to Kill a Pitch

I smile when I get bad pitches from publicists -- they're blog fodder. I heard from many publicists this week who sent material on everything from a cookie diet to a bilingual book series, but the one that really stood out had the following characteristics. Use it as your format for What. Not. To. Do.
  1. Use 8 point type. Seriously, even The Young People have trouble reading type this small.
  2. Write two inflammatory sentences that paraphrase somebody but don't tell me who you're paraphrasing.
  3. Don't give me an overview or facts. Instead, tell me to click on the link below to learn more about the topic.
  4. Use a tinyURL format for that link so I can't tell who your client is or whether it's a link I can trust. There's lots of buzz about the bad things that might happen to my computer if I visit a "bad" Web site. I'm not going to trust your tinyURL if all you've given me is a couple of vague sentences about an impending danger to our society.
This woman's client might have had something interesting to say...and this e-mail might have gone to many writers who were in a position to help the source get her message to the people she thinks need to hear it. I suspect that it didn't get the desired response, though. One of the mistakes on the list above is enough to kill what could be a good story idea. Work to make sure that your next pitch avoids these mistakes.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Learn How to Promote Your Book

"Book Publicity 101: How to Build Book Buzz" addresses the biggest issues most authors encounter when they realize they have to handle their own book publicity and promotion. Typically, authors:
  • Struggle to figure out what to do first to promote or publicize their book.
  • Know which activities will have the greatest impact on their book’s visibility.
  • Hesitate to use social networking tactics because they're not sure how to.
  • Don't quite understand why and how to schedule a virtual book tour.
  • Aren't sure how to approach and pitch traditional media outlets in the most appropriate way.
  • Might not be clear about the book's target audience or how to reach it through the media.
  • Want to do as much as they can to publicize a book without spending thousands on a publicist
I help authors discover the answers to these questions – and much more – in this dynamic four-week starting February 1, 2010. It's taught in an easy-to-use forum where you will learn, practice, implement, and grow.

Learn more about this very affordable and interactive course (and register!) here; e-mail me at sbATbuildbookbuzz.com with questions.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Want More Publicity? Get Starter Publicity

Publicity begets publicity. You've heard me say it before because I've seen it in action as a publicist and more recently, as a writer, but now there's harder evidence of this. "How News Happens," a new study from the Pew Research Center, reveals that "much of the 'news' people receive contains no original reporting. Fully eight out of ten stories studied simply repeated or repackaged previously published information."

The report went on to say that ". . . of the stories that did contain new information nearly all, 95%, came from traditional media—most of them newspapers. These stories then tended to set the narrative agenda for most other media outlets."

The Pew study of Baltimore media outlets is representative of the local media news-gathering and reporting process, but this plays out nationally, as well. Writers like me use our local newspapers to help generate article ideas that we sell to national publications; national business publication staffers monitor the trade press for news and trends article ideas; the network TV morning talk shows pick up interesting stories from their local affiliates. Whether your story appears in a local or national media outlet, online or offline, you still have a much better chance of getting your story into more than one outlet if you get that one hit first.

For most of us, the easiest way to do this is to start locally. As the Pew study has shown, you'll go the farthest fastest if you start with your daily newspaper.

Have you enjoyed larger media exposure after a local mention? What happened?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Authors: Enter Hoffer Awards by January 21

January 21, 2010, is the entry deadline for the Hoffer Awards for academic, independent, small press, and self-published books that were released or copyrighted in the past two years. The entry fee of $45 could lead you to a grand prize of $1,500 and recognition you can use for promotion and marketing purposes. There are five ways to win -- by genre, press, the Montaigne Medal, the da Vince Eye, and the Hoffer grand prize.

For more information visit http://www.hofferaward.com/HAnominate.html.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Don't Use Celebrities as Your Publicity Role Models

Newsmaking celebrities such as Rush Limbaugh and Tiger Woods can use a passive media relations strategy to get their information or point of view out to the press. All they have to do is post a news release on their Web site and sit back and wait for pieces of it to be used in media reports.

The rest of us? Not so much. Nobody's coming to our Web sites looking for our news, so we have to be much more proactive. We need to use hand-crafted media lists or press release distribution services to generate stories, mentions, interviews, and exposure.

It's important to push your news out there. While a journalist might stumble upon your press release while doing research online, you still need to take the time to figure out which media gatekeepers can help connect you with your target audience and provide them with appropriate information that helps them do their jobs.

This doesn't mean that you don't want an online press room -- you do. It definitely helps. You just don't want to make that your entire publicity campaign. And one tip about that: Don't use the PDF format for your media relations materials. It makes them harder to work with and when you make it harder for a journalist to use your information, chances are, it won't be used at all.