A book is probably the greatest thing in the world – to its author. But when an editor or producer says “pass” it’s the publicist who has to tell the client. Sometimes ZERO media are interested. And for anyone who has written a book that can be a pretty personally hurtful message no matter how carefully it’s couched. For me, it’s the equivalent of having to tell clients “your baby is ugly” 95% of the time, without hurting their feelings. Nearly impossible.
Why do I bring this up? Two reasons –
1) People need to engage in the public relations game knowing their odds. The chances of getting on national television or major print are very slim unless you are a celebrity or just did the impossible – like climbed a mountain for the first time while drinking martinis in pink bloomers. And even if you are a celebrity, you still get bumped. Michael Moore was bumped by Paris Hilton on Larry King Live (and boy was he pissed)
2) Publicists need to tell their clients this. I love DIY publicists like Joan at the Publicity Hound. She gets that most people and companies don’t have the money to keep a PR campaign going as long as it takes. So she teaches them how to do it themselves. That helps them get PR in the first place and it also helps them understand the process, which helps ME when it’s time for them to engage in a PR firm.
Here are a few things people should know before they go into this.
- It’s not personal. The editor at Health magazine told me one month she got 400 new fitness books in the mail. How could she possibly go through them all?
- It has to be relevant – not only to the current media environment, but to the editorial guidelines of the pub or broadcast show, to the preferences of the producer, to what they’ve done in the past 12 issues or shows, to the juxtaposition of Mars to the moon (okay I’m exaggerating) Point it, we can’t possibly know all that before pitching. Whether or not something will hit is at best an educated guess.
- You might have the best publicist in the world and due to circumstances out of their control, you might get nothing despite their best intentions.
So why do PR if it’s such a crap shoot? First of all, if you’re consistent and pitching the right thing to the right media, it will work – eventually. Nothing is more effective long term than public relations done well. (and I emphasize DONE WELL)
So bottom line? Don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t like your pitch. Change the angle and move on. We really aren’t telling you your baby is ugly. It’s just not the right size, right now.
Bonnie Harris is the founder of Wax Marketing, an integrated marketing and public relations firm. Read her blog here and follow her on Twitter for tips and to learn about the life of an accidental publicist.