What Does a Publicist Do?


Good Press = Good Business 

I am always surprised by what people think public relations services cost.  When I ask them what are their goals, they’ll say to sell 10,000 copies.

When I ask, “what’s your budget?” they’ll say they really don’t have one – but maybe $500 to $1,000.

For a campaign that sell 10,000?  I don’t think so.  If you could publish a book and spend $500 and sell 10,000 copies – you’re a miracle worker.  Fact is that you have to invest in your marketing (advertising AND public relations).

The Coaching Model

Now, as aPR coach, I help people save money by showing them how to do it themselves. I lay out a strategy for them, critique their timeline and plans – and give them the resources and contacts to make it happen.

Things I do for clients as their PR Coach:

  • Evaluate and improve your book marketing plan, tweaking your ideas and give you new ones
  • Tailor your promotion plan, tapping into my wealth of PR strategies and social media marketing secrets
  • Provide you with a full rolodex of the media and publishing contacts that make the difference
  • Hold you accountable as we work together on your execution of the plan

Simple – if they invest the time and put forth the effort to really do what is required they’ll reach their publishing goals. Coaching programs are typically $500 to $1,500 over say, 4 to 6 weeks.

I freely shares my publicity strategies and contacts with authors so everyone can have access to PR strategies, both the basics and advanced, so they can market their messages to the masses.

The Retainer Way (Hiring a Publicist)

Then there are those who want to hire a publicist do their entire publicity campaign for them – from writing the marketing materials, pitching media and scheduling interviews.  This type of client is usually a publisher who has a “brand” name author with a print run of 20,000 or so books.  The cost of typical PR campaigns like that is about $5,000 to $7,500 for three months at least – with no guarantees.

But what they can expect from these types of campaigns:

  • A fully developed press kit (interview questions, bio, endorsements, previous press clips, release and pitch letters)
  • Reviews in the trade publications like Publishers Weekly or Christian Retailing
  • Mailings to major media often landing TV interviews with TBN or Daystar or articles in Upscale or Ebony
  • Radio interviews and in some cases a publicist will arrange a Radio Tour (several radio interviews in one day)
  • Scheduling/Coordinating Book Tours and Media Appearances
  • Online presence – email campaign blasts to targeted audiences, podcasts and blog tours
  • Continuous mailings to media that request (which is typical for a ‘branded’ author)


Pay-For-Performance or Pay-Per-Placement

Another approach that’s getting an increasing amount of attention is pay-per-placement PR – which I have for certain types of clients (usually after coaching). However, pay-per-placement alone isn’t for everybody. For one thing, if you are pay-per-placement client – that’s all you get – you just get media. That means no strategy development, marketing or other work that many authors may need for an effective PR campaign. And if you’re not branded correctly, you won’t get media – or the right media anyway.

The costs of a typical “pay-per-placement” program are:

Broadcast Media Interview
National TV = $3,500.00 (network)

National TV = $1,500.00 (Christian)
National Radio = $1,000.00

Satellite Radio = $750.00

Local TV = $500.00

Local Radio = $350.00 ($100 additional for promos/contests)

Print Media (either book review, mention – full features are additional $250)

Newspapers or Magazines

Circulation 1M+ = $750.00

Circulation 100,001 – 1M = $600.00
Circulation under 10,000 – 100,000 = $500.00

The Difference and synergy of Advertising and Public Relations

When you pay the media directly – you know exactly when that ad will air or be published.  With pay-per-placement, you’ll be notified but it’s not guaranteed – thus you’re not billed until you get the media hit.

PR is not an exact science and you are really at the mercy of the media. It’s free when they cover you but you never know when or IF they will.

The best formula: to buy ads in publications or on stations that are targeting your audience best – and then pitch the editorial/producers too. You’ll at least have exposure in the publication or on the station that hits your main audience.  Sometimes you’ll get favor by being an advertiser and the station or publication will call on you for editorial too.

The key to any successful promotional campaign is persistence and consistency. Whatever structure you use for your book – make sure you are know the expectations and limitations of each one. Find the program that fits your lifestyle, budget and brand.

Pam Perry, is a PR coach, social media strategist, chief visionary at Ministry Marketing Solutions Inc.

Listen to Pam Perry’s podcasts: Get Out There and Get Known

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  • Wonderful breakdown of the costs for PR services. And it explains why many authors are unknown to the masses. Unless a high profile individual (like an Oprah or Katie Couric) hears of it, reads it and decides to promote it, the book might not leave the bookstore.

    • Pam Perry says:

      Yes, it takes tons of cash to reach the mass. 🙂 That’s why we always talk about SEO and getting a “tribe” and building a platform. Thanks Jacqueline your comment. Get a Gravatar. Remember, I talked about that in the 13 PR Power Moves follow up video.

  • […] people think they want to hire a publicist or a PR firm – but do not have a clue as to how much money they have to spend to get these kind of hits. Or how long it […]

  • Deanetta says:

    This was a great read. There is a lot of work in PR.

  • This is AWESOME information! So detailed and informative. Thank you so much for spelling it all out for those of us who have books we need to promote. We’re still enjoying your course as well. 🙂 ~ OEV

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