Like everything else, public relations takes guts, perseverance, and the ability to know when to try something different. To fine-tune your publicity campaigns, try these five tactics. They’ve proven successful throughout my more than 20 years in the public relations business.
Don’t be married to your angles–they may need to be instantly changed. We once pitched a hot national TV show on a cooking segment for a chef who wanted to showcase his new gourmet recipes. The producer was receptive but felt that gourmet food wouldn’t interest his audience and asked us instead to develop a holiday segment. Once we came up with holiday recipes that fit the producer’s needs, the show turned out to be great coverage for the chef.
Be alert to angles that take on lives of their own. The perfect angle for a title can develop as you talk with media people during a PR campaign. A health book we once pitched, about the effects of drugs and environmental hazards on the human body, was getting exposure and moving smoothly in the media. But it wasn’t until we came up with “toxins in your home” as an angle that it ran away and became a cover story for a national magazine and a one-hour segment on the Montel Williams Show. After that, it hit the bestseller lists at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com at #4 and #6, respectively.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. When one of your titles appears to have strong appeal, but the media aren’t picking up on it, don’t lose hope. It’s just time to reevaluate your campaign strategy. Maybe you’re targeting the wrong media. For example, a fashion book will find a great home with print journalists but not get much attention from a talk-radio host. Or a political book by an unknown pundit may fly beautifully on talk radio but get nowhere with political editors.
If an angle is running out of steam, don’t just fold–get creative.Develop a new angle that has a tie-in with a national holiday or something in the news. If, for example, your title is a how-to book on managing finances, but it’s the month of June and nobody’s biting, develop a show about finances for newlyweds, tying your author in with the annual rush of June weddings.
Understand that timing is everything. Don’t waste your resources pitching the majors if your title has no tie-in with the news. But always monitor the national press, and when a story hits that relates to any of your titles, pour everything you’ve got into it.
Marsha Friedman is president of Event Management Services Inc., a performance-based publicity and book-promotion firm that provides guests for talk-radio shows around the country and arranges national book tours and coverage in newspapers and magazines. For more information: 727/443-7115 x 208, or firstname.lastname@example.org.