Connecting with readers via Twitter, your blog, and organized online chats is one way to reach people. Another important way is through the media, who will be able to get the word out about your book to a larger audience. Successful PR requires a lot of work but can have a huge payoff. The media is hungry for news with a new angle. It’s up to you to provide journalists with insight into why their audience will be interested in your story.
Nowadays, most journalists accept and prefer email communication and their addresses are often found attached to their articles. Alternatively, if you’re going to contact a blogger, you can find his or her information on a “Contact” page. Please note: Mail isn’t dead. Remember, you want to stand out, so package up your book and press release in a way that will catch the journalist’s eye. With so many pitches being received per day, you’ll need to stand out.
Before you start sending off a press release (tips on how to write a great press release here), here’s a little more information on how to get your pitch noticed.
Think local: It takes time to get in the national spotlight. Make a list of every medium from your city’s biggest paper to your community’s local newsletter. You have to start somewhere–and sometimes that means a place with a small circulation. When pitching local media make sure to include your ties to the community and perhaps how your book fits in. Better yet, make a personal plea to nearby journalists. If one is doing a local library talk, go introduce yourself. Nothing compares to a personal connection.
Don’t brush off bloggers: Ten years ago media meant print publications. That’s all changed. Now blogs can be just as influential and powerful as the “traditional” media. Bloggers have been instrumental in getting products and pieces to go “viral,” so reach out to those who are nearby and any who write about your niche. Make sure to personalize your message to who you’re contacting and really understand the match between their material and your book. You may not need to be as formal with your pitch as you are to other older media, but always, always, be professional.
Hype yourself: What can you, as a person, offer to the media? Do you know a lot about airplane design or anusara yoga? Try your hand at pitching yourself and your credentials to local and niche media if interest in your book is, initially, lackluster. If you book time on a radio show, make sure to plug your book and/or tell the host/web producer to include it in your bio if your story ends up on the Internet. Here’s a great example of a radio interview given by L.N. Jennings for her novel, Seven Splinters.
Keep up with the trends: Is there a larger, national story you can attach your book and your expertise to? Read the papers, scour the Internet, or listen to NPR and find the right angle for you and your book. Then, with a timely press release, reach out directly to the writers who have covered one angle of the story and explain why your angle is newsworthy, too. In this article, Kevin Powell, author of Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and The Ghost of Dr. King, talks about American racism as it relates to the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida.
If more cash than time, there are companies you can pay to help get out the word including PRWeb, PRNewswire, or GlobeNewswire. Each offers a number of options, including targeted distribution of your press release(s), ways for you to monitor your coverage, and a means to analyze the results. Check out their sites and explore which is the most cost-effective based on your budget.
Whether you end up paying to have someone take care of your PR, or you handle it yourself, getting media coverage takes a lot of work. Be flexible and let go of a one-size-fits-all approach. You’ll most likely have to craft more than one press release depending on who you’re targeting and you’ll probably have to follow up–within reason–with your contacts. Be personable and friendly and be mindful of sounding spam-like or angry.
Most of all, be patient. You’ll do a lot of work with potentially (at first, especially) little return. But one article begets another, and who knows where it all can lead?
If you have any PR success stories, please share them in the comment section below.