A New York publicist mails a client’s book to a reporter across the country. The package includes a slick brochure. The reporter recognizes the publicist’s name but doesn’t recall her giving him a heads up the book was on its way. He flips through the book, stops momentarily to check out some bullet points on a page and wonders if his wife might find it interesting. He puts the book on his desk and throws away the brochure.
The book doesn’t relate to any particular issues the reporter covers. He doesn’t recognize the authors. There’s no obvious connection to the reporter’s community. If the package included a personal letter to the reporter, he never saw it. But the trash did.
I’ve talked before here about PR pros not simply pitching media like throwing darts. But it’s not uncommon for publicists to mail out clients’ books without much direction. And because we’re not talking about email, I wonder what it costs to mail 250 pages to many members of the media across the country. Maybe some of the media are specifically targeted and care about what the author says. But often, it does seem like someone is throwing darts.
At one point, a bunch of these books covered a strip of wood that separated desks at my husband’s TV station. Consider it a library of randomness. But somewhere out there, a client put a lot of work into writing those pages. And somewhere out there, a publicist is trying to make that client successful.
- In addition to the author, find someone before contacting media that journalists can interview who can share a personal story. Find a different personal story for each different city. Searching for people on Twitter can help.
- Decide if you’re willing to fly your client into cities for interviews. Satellite and Skype interviews are possible but often look blah.
- Don’t open up your pitch explaining your client wrote a book. That shouts “commercial” to cynical reporters. Pitch your client as an expert. Subtly bring up later the client wrote a book and ask if the reporter wouldn’t mind mentioning it or if the photographer wouldn’t mind taking a shot of it.
- Try to connect the client’s subject to an current issue being discussed in society.
- Tell journalists they can interview clients at a relevant location. If the book is about the work environment, find an employer who will let you use their place as a backdrop. Conference rooms and offices are so boring for interviews!
- Google your client to ensure the reporter won’t dig up anything negative and surprise everyone with a story you didn’t expect.
- Give the reporter a few links where readers and viewers can find out more about an author and maybe just buy the book.