From time to time you may get a book published, produce a movie, lead a major event, or do something else significant and have the opportunity to work with a public relations firm or publicist. Their job is to attract attention to your book, film, movement, business – whatever. But hiring a publicist isn’t a magic button. Perhaps in the old days of legacy media, you hired a publicity expert and then sat back and collected big paychecks based on book sales.
But not today. To work successfully with a PR expert or publicist, here’s some important keys:
1) It’s a partnership, not a one-man show. They need your help, so don’t sign the contract and then check out. They need your input on press releases, pitch information, and more. Show up, make yourself available, and you’ll be far more successful.
2) Help create content. During my last few book releases, I worked with a publicity firm that asked me to write some opinion pieces based on current issues I discussed in my books. They were able to get those columns published in some amazing places like Wired magazine, Fast Company, Forbes, and more. But here’s the key: I had to write them. If you can write 600 word op-ed pieces based on your book, film, business idea, or cause, it will make a remarkable difference in helping you find the right platform.
3) Bring your assets to the table. Do you lead a large company? Have a successful blog? Do a radio program? Pastor a large church? The best place to start a publicity campaign is with people who already know and like you. Give your publicity consultant a running start by helping them reach the low hanging fruit of your friends, fans, or followers.
4) It will take time. The publicist’s contacts have to be pitched, they need to look over your book or film, and they need to schedule it into their media run. Don’t expect miracles in the first month. Give them time to launch your campaign and you’ll see much more significant benefits. Because of that, you need to be engaging a publicity firm at least a month or two before the book or project release date.
5) Don’t take it personally. I’ve been turned down by plenty of major media outlets, but I don’t let that get me down. I also don’t blame it on my PR person. They got me there, and it was the news director or station manager that said no. It’s not about you, it’s about what that particular news program needs to advance it’s agenda. If your story doesn’t fit, then fine. Move on.
6) Finally, be open to interviews at weird times or for small platforms. I’ve been up at 3am Pacific time to do a network TV interview for the 6am news on the East Coast. I’ve done phone interviews long after midnight with a radio station in Perth, Australia. I’ve been interviewed by magazines I’ve never heard of, or obscure small college radio stations. But guess what? You never know who’s listening. Some of my best speaking engagements or consulting projects came because of someone who was listening to a small radio station or reading a local newspaper.
I randomly had breakfast with the Vice-President of a major organization while on a trip to India. We were staying at the same hotel. When I introduced myself, he told me as he was leaving his house for the airport, his wife gave him a magazine with my interview in it and told him to read it on the plane. What were the odds that we’d meet halfway around the world? Now he wants me to speak at their annual conference.
Be open to all the possibilities, and you never know where publicity will lead.