As a PR coach and publicist with over 20 years in the industry I’ve seen and done it all. I’ve worked with many different types of clients, I’ve managed many different types of campaigns, I’ve built relationships with numerous people in the media, and there has not been a media that I have not had a client in.
So what I want to share with you today is the top three mistakes I see authors make that cause them to lose so much of their precious time and money.
Now if you’re not an author, this information still pertains to you, because speakers, entrepreneurs and business owners are making the exact same mistakes too.
How do I know?
I know because I don’t just work with authors, I’ve had (and still have) clients in many different industries, who are selling many different things.
This leads me to a point I want to make when it comes to authorship: regardless of what business you’re in, authorship is one of the most powerful marketing tools you can have.
Authorship gets your name out to the public and implies you’re an expert.
Authorship can make you a celebrity – which gives you that prestige.
Publishing a book gives you respect, visibility, and credibility, so you can be a sought after speaker or garner potential clients/customers.
Your status elevates automatically when you become an author, even if the book doesn’t sell that well or even if you give the book away.
So with all the benefits of authorship, why are authors losing money instead of making it, and are having trouble getting publicity?
Well, it’s because of these three mistakes…
Mistake # 1 – Underestimating the Amount of Work That Goes Into Being Media Ready
You can’t take a shotgun approach to publicity and think you’re going to get somewhere. It’s a process, and you must be strategic about how you go through that process.
For example, if you were to hire a publicist, you need to be prepared to wait at least 6 months or more before you get any publicity at all (and there’s no guarantees).
Because of all the media preparation work that comes first.
You can’t just have a great message and a book with an attractive front and back cover and think that’s all there is to it. You need to first do a media assessment. You need to know which medium your book would have the best chance of getting noticed in, and put together a list of at least 25 media outlets to target.
Your publicity campaign needs to be targeted properly from the very beginning, or you will waste time and money backtracking and fixing mistakes.
You absolutely must know the right angle for the media. You need to know how to approach them with that angle, and you need to know what aspect of your book or life experiences are really the ones to accentuate in order to gain the best exposure (and keep in mind that this may be different for each medium).
And it’s not what you think is best, it’s what people in the media would think is best.
If you don’t have connections with people in the media, then how would you know this?
So that means you would have to take time out to build relationships with people in the media.
Along with doing that, you have to develop a complete press kit; come up with appropriate interview questions to provide the media; create a bestseller bio; get endorsements; manage your online presence; and so much more.
And let’s not forget that after you pitch the media, you must follow-up. Follow-up calls, follow-up emails, follow-up faxes, follow-up direct messages, follow-up tweets, etc.
You have to understand that 80% – 90% of media is scheduled due to personal follow-up. Publicity will produce the results when there’s a personal touch involved.
That’s the bottom line!
That’s why establishing a relationship with media professionals is so important.
Now of course, if you hire a publicist, you wouldn’t have to worry about any of these things, because that’s what they do. They have the connections; they would immediately know which type of media would be appropriate for your book; they would easily be able to hash out your “book hook” and come up with the right angle for the media and how to approach them; they handle all of the preparation work; and most importantly, they would handle all of the follow-up tasks.
And so when you are engaging someone’s services like that – a service that relies heavily on relationships and a personal touch – it involves more cost.
Expect to spend at least $2500 – $7500 per month for a professional publicist, and the campaign would typically be for a minimum of three months. There’s really not much a publicist can do for you in a month unless you’re already branded (you’re Beyonce, or someone like that).
Now if you find a publicist that’s just starting out, they may probably do something very very low like $1500 a month. That’s very low because of all the time and the labor that’s involved in that.
Also keep in mind that with them being so new, they may not have established trust with various people in the media yet.
If you have less than $1500 a month and you expect to hire a publicist to do a full campaign, you’re not being realistic.
So either you’re going to pay with your time and do all the follow-up and all of the things that are required, or you’re going to pay someone else for their time to do that.
Many authors have a full-time job and have other things going on, so some of them find it hard to find time to do it all, which is why they search for an agency or someone to do do the work for them.
So when I ask these authors what their monthly budget is, many of them say “Maybe $500 or $1000.”
Well, that’s not being realistic.
If you don’t have the budget, then you’ve got to put in the time to learn how to do it yourself.
Spend the time that you do have on doing the things that will get you the best results. You see, if you stop wasting time on doing things that do not work, you will have more time. Know that you will get to where you want to be when you do things the right way from the start.
So again, even if you have the budget to hire a publicist, it can take a while. You must be patient and go through the process so that everything will be done properly. However, what I’ve found is that many authors who have the budget to hire a publicist still are not ready.
Because they haven’t taken time out to build their platform. Which brings me to mistake #2….
Mistake # 2 – Hiring a Publicist Prematurely
A publicist’s job is not to help you build a platform; it’s to help you promote the platform you already have.
The publicist is who you go to AFTER you already have all the other elements – the foundational pieces – in place. You have a website (one which is optimized for your target audience AND for the media), you have a following, you have an email list…and so on.
Those things by themselves will cost you in time and money, but they are necessary before a publicist can even get to the point of really doing any PR work for you.
Now some publicists will take your money without disclosing to you that you need these foundational pieces first (they’re not intentionally misleading you, they just assume that you already know what you should have in place before you come to them), and this is when you’ve just wasted your money on something that you’re not ready for yet.
You’ve wasted your time too, because now you have to backtrack – you have to go back and continue building your platform to a certain level (which takes months to do), then go back to the publicist.
So many people want to be in the media and rush to hire a publicist without understanding what the media wants.
The media is in business to make money! They make money by having eyeballs…or ears…or readers…or listeners that are paying attention to what they’re doing.
The more people that are paying attention, the more money they can charge for their advertising.
It’s all about the bottom line. Please understand this.
So if you’re a new author, and you’re not really known yet, and you want to go on, say, Good Morning America or The Today Show, they’re looking at your star power.
They’re thinking “How many people are you going to actually bring to us by us having you on the air?”
They already have a set audience, but what they want to do is really make sure that they’re not losing their audience from bringing someone to them that they’re not aware of – someone that doesn’t have a platform.
So you already have to have a built-in audience of thousands – people that the media does not already have within their audience. You’ve got to have an army; you’ve got to have that tribe.
Your publicist knows this. They know that without you having that following, they can’t get you the results you’re seeking, because the media will not care about you until you have the following.
So, one of the main things you can do to make yourself attractive to the media is to build that army; to build that tribe; to build that platform; to really have that star power built into your brand.
So let’s say you or your publicist pitches a TV station and the station looks and they do a Google check, and they realize, “Wow this person has a huge following…and look how active their blog is. Oh my goodness, they are a rockstar in media. They’ve got tens of thousands of people on Twitter and Facebook and they are engaging on their blogs…they are really doing something. How many people do they have on their email list? They’ve got 10,000?”
Well, of course, obviously at that point, you are attractive to the media. You become that media darling that they want to get on the air, because you now have that army of people that would now go from following you online to following you on the air or reading about you in a particular magazine.
No one likes to take someone that is totally cold and then build them up. They want you to already have something going.
Mistake # 3 – Not Doing The Research To Know The Difference Between a Publicist And a PR Coach
Many authors and speakers go to a publicist when what they’re really looking for, based on their situation and budget, is a PR coach. They’re just not aware of that yet.
They’re looking for someone to help them with every aspect of publicity, and as I have already disclosed above, a publicist is not who you go to until your foundation and initial following is already in place. However, a PR coach will help you build that foundation AND help you to become your own publicist – which saves you thousands of dollars.
A PR coach is there with you from the very beginning. So it doesn’t matter which stage of the process you’re in, a PR coach will help you from wherever you are and move you forward to complete your goals.
So what specifically does a PR coach do?
A PR coach does a lot of the same things as a publicist, but they don’t do the part where they actually are doing the mailings or writing. What a PR coach does is they give you templates for you to do it yourself, and give you a blueprint to get it done.
They would devise a book hook for you; they would evaluate and approve a book marketing plan– making sure that your ideas are on point, or give you new ones to make sure that you get the media pick up you want.
One of the things that I do personally – because I’ve represented so many authors over the years – is I actually help with endorsements. So because I know so many authors, and I know genres of particular authors…really if the book is something that I think that another particular author would like, I would make that introduction. Every book needs endorsements.
Other things that a PR Coach does…
Overseeing and making sure that the back cover text and cover is sellable. Me personally, I would do an analysis of both, because that’s what sells. You have a total of about 10 sec. to grab attention and peak interest for each one.
I would help edit the author’s bio and book synopsis, because that’s one of the main things that’s going to sell the book. That’s what’s going to be on Amazon. That’s what’s going to be on the back cover.
And then we would actually create a strategy – not only the author’s particular book launch, but also for their entire content; for their blog. The whole online marketing piece, especially when it comes to social media.
That’s part of the strategy of really making sure that you’re growing that tribe – that you’re growing that platform. We make sure that you know exactly how to be media ready, and we help you with every aspect of that (including formulating talking points for interviews, interview scheduling, media follow-up, etc.).
Then of course there’s making sure that your media kit is assembled properly – not only your physical press kit, but also your electronic press kit (EPK) and online media room.
We also make sure that you are aware of the conferences and venues that every author should attend if they’re serious, as well as making sure that you’re aware of certain book awards.
Like a said before, a PR coach helps you with every aspect of publicity regardless of what stage you are currently in.
So you need to ask yourself: “Am I ready to hire a publicist, or is a PR coach more of what I need?”
How to Build a Strong, Media Ready Platform On a Limited Budget
It’s true that you will save thousands of dollars by hiring a PR coach, as opposed to hiring a publicist (even if you’re actually ready for a publicist), but you still need a reasonable budget for coaching. Hiring a PR coach to help you build your platform and then help you with a full PR campaign will cost you at least $1500 a month.
I’ve had conversations with many authors and speakers (as well as entrepreneurs and ministry leaders) who simply do not have the budget for private coaching.
So several years ago I created a more affordable alternative, which I called the PR Bootcamp. This program was a 4 week program where I coached what I call “Authorpreneurs” on how to build a platform and get out there.
I no longer offer this program, but many Authorpreneurs have asked me when or if I will offer the program again, and I’ve thought about doing it many times, but here’s the problem…
Every time I offered the program I found myself repeating the same thing over and over again. No matter how many years had passed by, the teaching was still the same, because there was nothing new to say (with exception of mentioning some new tools to use or new social networks to join).
In other words…
All of the basic principles I have been teaching for years do not change!
This is important for you to understand.
You see, the basic fundamentals of online PR and branding are still the same as they always were. It’s not the principles that change, it’s the tools you use to do what you want to do.
So what I had decided to do a few years ago was package the PR bootcamp into a product (since all of the live calls were recorded).
This was a way for Authorpreneurs to be able to afford my coaching. There really was no need for a live program when the information was the same anyway…so I thought.
But here was the problem…
Selling a product didn’t give people the support they needed to move forward. Basically, if you purchased my recorded calls and worksheets and had a question, there was no one to ask.
At least in my live coaching program everyone had access to me via email (and in some of the bootcamps where I charged a little more, I offered one private consultation) so they could get their questions answered, and I could clarify anything they were unsure of.
I’ve come to realize that the one thing that makes all the difference in the world between authors, speakers, entrepreneurs and other business owners who struggle for months (or even years), and those who become successful is having the ability to ask questions when you get stuck.
So, I’ve been thinking about how I could provide the same kind of help to people that my private coaching clients received, but at a more affordable price.
How could I combine a “do it yourself” type of course that walks you step by step on what to do and allows you to go at your own pace…how could I do that while at the same time allow people to ask me questions if they get stuck or need clarification on anything?
I didn’t want to just answer questions via email, I wanted it to be more personable and I wanted people to hear me explain the answer to them instead of read it.
I also want to help more than just a few people at a time – I want to help a large group of people…but how could I possibly do that, I’m only one person?
How could I do all of this…and then when I figure that part out, how can I do it and still keep the price down?
It took me awhile to figure it out, but I decided that having a program where people log into a membership area to access everything is the solution.
Let me explain…
What I’ve decided to do is create what I’m calling the Pam Perry Mentoring Program, which I briefly mentioned in my last blog post.
With this program you will receive:
- Access to my private member’s area
- Access to my “Get Out There” Kit. This is my PR 2.0 & Platform Building Course that includes over 4 hours of step by step platform building training via recorded audio mp3s. I’ve also included lesson notes for each session.
- Example templates, scripts, outlines and checklists on becoming a social media superstar, writing a winning bio, pitch letter distribution & follow-up, creating an effective press release, creating media alerts, essential elements of an interview, optimizing your website to increase traffic and leads, media relationship development…and more! I’m also going to continue to add content in there as I create it.
- A private contact form where you can ask me any questions at any time. I will then create a video that answers your question in detail and post that video in the member’s area. These Q+A videos will be created twice a month and they will be available any time to watch at your convenience
- Live teleclasses each month
…plus I’m starting a private Facebook group so we all can connect in there as well.
This is a 6 month mentoring program where I share everything I know with you and support you along the way.
You no longer have to worry about expensive PR fees.
You no longer have to spend months (or years) trying to figure it all out by yourself.
You no longer have to be overwhelmed with all of the information out there with no one you can ask to clarify things.
You no longer have to worry about wasting time and money doing things that produce poor results (or no results at all).
It’s time for you to get unstuck and move forward!
Sell more books and other products, build your brand, get your message out there to the masses, and get the media attention that you deserve.
I’m here to help you do all of that!
Talk to you later,