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Marketing Gurus and Publicists - Who does what?

In my opinion, there is only one huge  reason to hire a PR firm - who they know. Just sending out an email "blast" - you can do that for yourself.

What a true PR professional (I’m not one!) brings to the table is a virtual "rolodex" of media names in your industry (very important) who will listen when this professional sends a story lead to them. They trust this person and know that if he/she sends the lead - they should consider it. It is the rifle approach vs the shotgun. I don’t think shotguns work very well (<:

A marketing professional (I am one) brings a different set of skills to the table. They look at your project from a holistic view. They consider all parts of the project and how to best market it. They work with such things as:

* Who is the target market? How large is it? How easy is it to reach?

* Is the product produced appropriately for the market? Is the language the right level? Are the graphics appropriate, Is it well-edited?

* What is the competition? How does this book stack up against the competition?

* What is the unique "hook" that this project brings? How does it fit in with the competition?

* Is the book priced correctly for the market? Can it be distributed at that price and make money?

* How should the product be distributed to meet the authors/publishers goals? What has to be done to get it distributed to the correct channels?

* How do each of the appropriate channels fit into the overall sales mix? Does that mix create profits?

* And lastly, how should this product be promoted? What mix of publicity and/or advertising will be needed to meet the sales goals?

* Does the author have the funds to meet those goals? If not, what can be done to modify the sales goals and/or increase exposure within the budget?

* Which methods is the publisher/author willing to employ to sell the book? Live presentations? Internet? Print? Broadcast? Everyone has their own time, financial and personal constraints that expand or limit what they are willing and can do.

You’ve got to hire the right person for the job you want done. Some publicists also do some marketing work as I described, but many do not. I work with (and refer to) a lot of PR professionals - and they often bring me into jobs that aren’t yet ready for publicity to help get them ready. There is nothing more disheartening than to see someone pay for a publicity campaign when the underlying marketing work has not yet been done. A good example is a book that wants nationwide publicity, yet is only available on the author’s website and at a price that doesn’t fit the market they are going after. Sigh…

The other advantage a marketing professional brings to the table is that they can help you develop a marketing and media plan that you can implement yourself. I prepare media kits, media plans with timelines and resources, as well as do marketing and website evaluations, pricing plans, get appropriate distribution for people, and yes, refer to a publicist when the author/publisher has that as part of their overall marketing plan.

Sometimes it is a "tough love" business, but a good marketing professional will always guide your decision making in the right direction. They don’t say things to be mean - they just want you to be successful. But, one of the beauties of being an author and/or a publisher, is that you get the final say on all phases of your project, including your marketing.

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"And I thought after 40 years of writing, I could write a sales letter... WRONG! Carol White's letter went beyond my imagination and into the sales stratosphere. Thanks, Carol! " -- AD Walker