Public Relations a misunderstood profession
In simple terms, public relations is having a story/interview/book reported by the media as news. Resulting articles and interviews are therefore treated as credible information, not as a paid advertisement.
But to a PR pro, there is nothing simple about a competent approach to the media. Each client will be supported with specific tools tailored to their book, company, or service. The following is an overview to help explain how public relations can assist authors in reaching out to reporters.
Reporters at news organizations are waiting to hear from you. Not true.
A press release is all you need. Depending upon the outlet, reporters will receive anywhere from 500 – 5,000 press releases daily and of those most are discarded.
You are the only one with a book, worthy of a reporter’s attention. Not true.
If you call or write enough, reporters will use your information. Working on short deadlines, reporters rarely have time to connect with an unknown person, or read volumes of information. Your approach has to cut through this clutter.
Why reporters will pay attention
Your approach was that of a professional. You directed succinctly stated information to the right reporter.
You didn’t harass reporters with phone calls and essay-length information. A brief who, what, where, why and when, must be communicate in your initial contact. The skill is in doing that in a way to catch the reporter’s attention so they will get back to you requesting detailed information.
Your targeted approach showed that you understood the reporter’s role. You don’t present your book to a news editor, unless that reporter wrote about your topic…or a biography to a sports reporter, unless the book was about an athlete.
Your initial contact is no longer than 2-3 sentences if by email, 2-3 paragraphs if by snail mail…in which you say you have detailed information (the media kit) available on request.
You provided an easy way for the reporter to get back to you. via phone/email/text information.
You demonstrated that you know their work. It is flattering if you mention something the reporter had covered, especially if it can be linked to your book.
How it is done
Framing the story. Create the news hook to grab a reporter’s attention. Remember you are not the only author seeking media coverage.
Media Kit – The following pieces are the basic one page pieces of a campaign. However, in the larger world the media kit can include additional information in the form of a video, book, previous interviews, etc. Press Release – no longer than 300 words, and first sentence should tell the whole story. A press release without following up is a wasted effort. Synopsis – An overview of the special elements of the book to demonstrate the uniqueness of the story. Biography – one paragraph on market niche, one on your book(s), one paragraph with your credentials to demonstrate your background experiences, education, as well as any honors/awards. If seeking interview or speaking opportunities the additional information about your background will be important.
Identifying appropriate reporters. Make sure you send your information to the reporter most likely to write about your book/topic.
Contacting reporters Email – The first step in establishing contact must be short and to the point. Follow-up via email or phone in one week, but keep it brief. Have media kit materials ready to send immediately after initial show of interest.
The interview Prepare a Q&A in advance that covers important points (can also be part of your media kit). This helps the reporter, who won’t know you, to quickly grasp your story/book, and the fresh angle they can use during an interview. And yes, some will simply use your material so make sure the Q&A is interesting.
Following up with a note. Reporters are people too and appreciate a thank you.
Marketing the results. Resulting newspaper, magazine, radio or television interviews can be placed in your own media kit, on your website, and sent to agents and publishers to show that your book/topic has generated interest by the news community.
Fiction More difficult for an unknown author to get the attention of reporters/reviewers.
Non-fiction Easier because there is usually a newsworthy angle that makes the information timely.
Last words: Approach reporters to offer new information, not a demand for attention. People respond favorably to nice people.
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Patricia E. Gitt, is the author of four novels featuring smart women in dynamic careers faced with an enemy seeking their destruction. Check her website for information about her fast-paced, dramatic mysteries. http://www.pegpublishing.com.