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The Power & Cost of Publicity

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Here’s a question I asked of the members of the PMA-L list regarding publicity: “When you’ve had a limited amount of dollars to spend on PR for your book or author, what have you done? Perhaps some of you out there can share with the rest of the list your best use of PR dollars. Please give both the program you used and the results you achieved. Thanks for sharing this info.”
Here are some wonderful responses from some of the members of the list:
Those of you publicizing books should take advantage of the immense power of print newsletters. You can really target your message, and sometimes they’re much easier to get into than many newspapers and magazines. An excellent resource is The Oxbridge Directory of Newsletters at http://www.mediafinder.com/nlr_home.cfm. You’ll find info on more than 18,000 newsletters, by category. Listings include names of editors and contact info.
Another great tip is to make your pitch to e-zines (online magazines and newsletters), many of which are hungry for material. You can find information on almost 2,500 e-zines at John Labovitz’s well-organized and user-friendly Web site at http://www.meer.net/~johnl/e-zine-list/. It’s updated monthly. Search by topic. If you have problems accessing this site, keep trying. I’ve encountered glitches from time to time.
Joan Stewart

Media Relations Speaker, Trainer, Consultant

Publisher, The Publicity Hound newsletter

Phone 414/284-7451, fax 414/284-1737

I move virtually all my books through a combination of radio interviews (the majority obtained through GuestFinder, some through Radio-TV Interview Report [RTIR], leads on the PMA list and elsewhere, and producers stumbling on my Web site).
Some of the other ways I get publicity (and sales) for my books include:

  • Review copies and/or press releases leading to mentions in the press
  • My Web site
  • Participation in many Internet discussion lists, with a high percentage of appropriate and helpful posts
  • Back-of-Room (B-O-R) sales
  • Slow-but-steady orders from Ingram (I assume mostly libraries but have no way of knowing).

I admit that this does not sell as many books as a saturation strategy with lots of paid ads, buying endcaps in bookstores, etc., but it’s profitable and a heckofalot quicker!
Shel Horowitz

News releases, brochures, newsletters, ad copy, resumes, etc.

Books to save you money on business (Marketing Without Megabucks)

Phone 800/683-WORD or 413/586-2388

E-mail: shel@frugalfun.com

Web site: http://www.frugalfun.com

 

Kim Dushinski and Tami DePalma and their team at MarketAbility have created an incredible (and affordable!) do-it-yourself PR resource in their “Maximum Exposure Marketing System.” They break down the sometimes mysterious art of PR into easy-to-understand segments and create a step-by-step plan that can be easily followed by the novice promoter. They also provide reminders of details sometimes overlooked by seasoned veterans. Their Web site is at http://www.MarketAbility.com.
Many listmates have found GuestFinder (created by listmate and author, Lorilyn Bailey) to be a great way to increase their exposure to the media at a very affordable price. Guests receive a Web page of their very own that includes a picture, bio, and suggested interview questions. This page can be printed and faxed to hosts or producers providing them instant essential information for an interview. Lorilyn actively promotes GuestFinder to the media, and it has become a well-known spot for producers to find guests for their programs. This Web site is at http://www.GuestFinder.com.
Paul Krupin’s IMediaFax Service is another tool that has benefited many listmates. This service allows you to target specific media outlets for press release distribution at a reasonable cost per media outlet. Paul really knows this market and shares his expertise with his clients. His Web site is at http://www.IMediaFax.com.
BookZone provides many different Internet marketing options for publishers ranging from Web site development and hosting, to their super catalog of books, to their new BookFlash program which gives publishers a reasonably priced method of announcing their books and other publishing news to the media. This site also contains one of the best compilations of publishing links that can be found. This Web site is at http://www.BookZone.com.
Several listmates have, at various times, put together co-op mailings that reduce the overhead cost for all involved. Bonnie Marlewski and Scott Gregory are two that come to mind, but I’m sure there are others. PMA also sponsors mailings of this type.
Of course, if your budget allows, publicists like our own Cor Van Heuman of Cate Cummings Publicity and Promotion Group and Stacy J. Miller of S. J. Miller Communications provide personalized service and expertise and, more importantly, results for you. Cor’s Web site is at http://www.bookpublicity.com and Stacy’s is at http://www.bookpr.com.
I’m sure there are others that I’ve left out, including myself. One of the most important things you can do if your PR budget is limited is to P L A N. This is the best way I know to get the absolute most for your PR dollar.
As an aside, in typing the various Web addresses listed here, one “pattern” emerged — all of these addresses include a certain degree of “branding.” Something to consider.
Michelle Banks

Maxwell Media Group

e-mail: banks@websurf.

We have given away a lot of books, especially to print media (newspapers, magazines, newsletters, etc.). As a general rule, we have found that print publicity works much better than broadcast publicity. We have seen results more than a year after the initial mention. For radio and television, we have always tried to target special interest programs that attract listeners who, simply by listening or watching, identify themselves as part of our market.
We also try to coordinate media placements, signings, talks, etc., with the travels of our authors. We might not go out of our way to book someone in, say New Orleans, but when they are there on vacation, we do try to take advantage of the opportunity.
We have used “trade out” space for advertising a few times. We create an ad and run it in surplus space in print media. We pay for the space by giving the medium a percentage of sales. This costs us only the ad preparation expenses.
On the whole, though, regular mail, e-mail, phones, and faxes can spread a limited budget a long way.
Robert Goodman

Silvercat

San Diego, CA

Phone 619/299-6774, fax 619-299-9119

E-mail: rg@silvercat.com

I invested heavily in a NYC PR firm. It was a total waste. They sent out over a hundred review copies and got me one article.
Since my background is marketing and advertising, I figured I’d try it myself. So with only about $1,500 left, this is what I did:
1. I spent $800 on Radio and TV Reports — only one-third of that has been used (you get three ads for that amount and only the first has run) — but I’ve done 20 radio shows from that first ad.
2. I spent $550 on an ad in Romantic times magazine. That got me an ad, a page of editorial, plus a mailing of one thousand fliers to independent bookstores.(cost me $250 to print the fliers). The result of the ad: orders are booming, and bookstores are calling. It’s a hit.
3. I spent nothing but a million hours of my time searching the net, marketing the book myself: (a) Getting excerpts on about 10 Web sites so far; (b) Reviews are promised in about 30 sites and e-zines, links were arranged on about a hundred sites; (c) I offer to write articles for free on some aspect of the book or my publishing/marketing experience and have gotten three articles printed and about five more requests; (d) I offer to give away two copies if a site will run a contest for my book.
All in all, I would have spent about $20,000 dollars if I was paying for the above exposure — but all this effort is working. A word-of-mouth thing is happening with the book, and if anyone out there wants to hire me, I’m now thinking of opening my own PR firm.
M. J. Rose

E-mail: ParisPoet@aol.com

Much valuable information was shared during the life span of the PMA listserv. Based on a PMA Board of Directors’ decision, we closed the listserv on February 28. In its place, we are featuring the PMA Q&A on our Web site (http://www.pma-online.org). Each week, we will have a topic for selected experts to address. You can post your questions on that topic at the Web site, and they will be answered. At the end of the week, those questions and answers will be archived on our Web site. The schedule for the first four weeks starting March 1 is: Week One, Strategic Planning with Don Tubesing of Pfeifer-Hamilton; Week Two, Direct Marketing with Jerry Marino; Week Three, Realistic Expectations for Trade Shows with myself and Dan Poynter; and Week Four, Fiction/Poetry & Independent Publishing with Nick Weir-Williams.
We can all look forward to exploring this new way of communicating on publishing issues.
This article is from thePMA Newsletterfor March, 1999, and is reprinted with permission of Publishers Marketing Association.

 

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