Fatal PR – Mistakes Authors Make on Their Campaigns

by: Paula Krapf
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Any author who is driving their own PR campaign knows that often times marketing and media can be an uphill battle. Many times authors are pitching and promoting themselves with minimal results. It can be tedious and frustrating and sometimes lead them to make fatal PR mistakes that can cost them their campaign.

Good Morning America
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One of the first, and potentially most fatal, is thinking that one or two media appearances are going to wing your book into the bestseller spotlight. Media works when it’s done consistently and often it takes months, and in some cases years, for you to reach your own “PR payoff.” The most important part of a campaign is the author’s ability to stick with it. Most of the interviews you see nationally on shows like “Good Morning America” and “Oprah,” started with a regional buzz. Build your base (or buzz) in your own back yard first and then start getting your message out on a national level. And this leads us to our second PR mistake: ignoring regional or trade media. Sometimes when you’re promoting yourself it’s easy to get caught up in going after the big fish, but don’t ignore the smaller regional and niche publications, they can be a gold mine of PR and really help to get the buzz going.

Next on our list of fatal PR mistakes is the technique with which authors pitch themselves. First and foremost you want to make sure you’re pitching the right people, don’t just go after a “producer,” find the producer that’s right for the story.

An example of a breaking news intro graphic
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And be cautious of when you pitch, before you start calling the media, turn on your TV or radio and see if there’s a breaking news story. There’s no quicker way to offend your media target then pitching them a story when they’re scrambling to cover a plane crash or some other major disaster.

As you’re navigating through your PR campaign you’ll also want to make sure your pitches are focused and relevant. It’s much easier to get the attention of the media when you’re pitching them something that’s already on their radar screen. For example remember when you’re putting together your campaign to keep an eye out for seasonal or news spins to your topic. If, let’s say, you are discussing the topic of depression, you might want to pitch it around a nationally designated “depression awareness day” or, perhaps, given all the buzz around college kids and depression, you might want to tackle this as a back-to-school issue.

Targeted, focused pitches are the best way to get the media to notice you, so open that calendar or read your local newspaper to find out what’s hot and top of mind.

May - Oct 2006 Calendar
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Also, respect their time when you’re pitching. Get to the point, don’t ramble and remember that this is not about you, it’s about the benefits to their readers, viewers, or listeners and mo! st of all, never, ever, ever sell your book. You should always sell yourself and your expertise. Producers and editors will be looking for the WIIFM factor behind your pitch (what’s in it for me) not how they can showcase your book.

Finally there’s no quicker way to end your campaign than to over promise, stretching the truth, or not being reliable. If you miss an interview or over promise on a commitment one time, you can kiss any further media goodbye. Word travels fast in the industry and bad news travels even faster. Remember be patient, be persistent, and be professional and you’re bound to get the media you deserve and keep your campaign alive and well!

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3 Responses to “Fatal PR – Mistakes Authors Make on Their Campaigns
  • Thank you for this post. It confirms my thoughts about PR. I figured I’d have to start with a regional campaign and become known before I could hit the national circuit.

    I have eight press releases that have been picked up by various local media; now I’m working on my next step.

  • [...] this interesting post on PR flaws today from Penny Sansevieri. She outlines four major flaws an author alone can make in conducting [...]

  • Paula says:

    Stephanie,

    I think you have the right idea – and also, you’ll get valuable experience on the regional level that will help you as you work to increase your exposure. Good luck to you!