Making Changes to Your Publicity Efforts Can Reap Huge Rewards
By Sandra Coffey
As an author, if you are thinking about publicity only at times when you need to sell or promote something, or for an achievement, then you are thinking about it in the wrong way. Publicity is something you need to embrace outside of these times because you want to become a member of your community, not someone who is knocking on the door only when you need the help of others, namely journalists or bloggers.
It is so easy to make this mistake. You get your author story together – a perfect press release – and send it out with a window of time to get it featured. Then, you wait for it to get picked up. Many also send it without knowing anything about what the journalist has recently written about.
I can't stress enough the importance of embracing publicity and making it a regular part of your activities. As writers, we are busy writing our best work and it is only when we finish it that we look around and see who we can send it to get it out into the world. Writers have so much more to offer journalists in terms of stories. I encourage you now to think more about what you do as a writer and how you can relate that to issues, news stories and events happening around you.
It is useful to think about this from the point of view of a journalist who needs to do their job. These five tips will help you get started when thinking about publicising your own book.
You need to be pitching to journalists at other times outside of when you need publicity. If you are only pitching around times when you need them to do something for you, then you are sitting in the pile alongside all the others doing the same. Those that say, “I have something I need to sell, and I need a journalist.” Look at your calendar and see what other things you are involved in, or want to be involved in. Look at this in terms of other stories you can offer so you can start to build a relationship with your chosen media and the journalists that write there.
Start by picking three media outlets and listen, read and watch. I encourage you to do this for at least one week before pitching to them.
Look at what the journalist writes about, look at what you can offer and try to match the two as closely as you can. Often, you won’t know exactly what the journalist likes to write about but by making this effort, you are already on their radar as someone who is interested and invested in what they do.
Try to write your pitch in a way that helps their readers, not in the way that helps you. For example, removing yourself from the picture and putting the reader there instead can be really helpful to understand their needs. What will the reader get from your book? What will they learn? Journalists are only interested in serving their readers, listeners and viewers.
Make sure you are flexible and can adapt to different angles that may work for different outlets, this can be a great way to meet the needs of a variety of journalists.
Use Twitter to Listen
Being silent and listening is something we could all do more of. It is easy to read the title of a link and feel like you know the story but reading in detail is the best way to getting to know journalists, newspapers and readers.
When you pick your three outlets, find the journalists that you are pitching to and follow them on Twitter. By all means connect with them and read their work, interact with them. Building your own presence on social media is always a great way to network with fellow professionals, readers and those in the publicity world!
If you would like to learn more about using media publicity to build a writing career, then my book is available now to read. It has been written by a journalist who sat in newsrooms for seventeen years and explores how you can best communicate with members of the press.
Sandra is a former journalist and editor. She is also the Author of Breaking Into the Media – A Journalist’s Guide to Publicity. You can purchase a copy here. If you would like any further advice or tips, you can visit Sandra’s website here.