Be Your Own Publicist: 8 Rules to Follow
People ask me, “Why do I need a publicist?” My answer, “Because there are too many stories, too many angles, and too many opportunities you might miss by not knowing the rules of the game.” Authors, speakers, small business owners (turned authors) often launch headlong into their marketing campaign with little or no regard for the steps and the process of getting media. Why? Because in our zeal to tell the world our story, we often stumble over our own efforts.
Over the years, a lot has changed in publicity. To be successful, not just once but continually, you need to understand how publicity people view each facet of their job (and the pitch), and how they garner the media they do. Generally, it’s a collection of tasks publicity people do over and over that gets them traction on a story. Here are eight things publicists do regularly, and how you can apply them to your own marketing:
- Think like a journalist: The only thing a journalist cares about is: “Will this interest my readers?” Use that objectivity and you’ll gain greater access to media, both online and off.
- Know the rules: When to pitch, who to pitch, how to pitch. A good publicist knows this, updates their information constantly, and lives and dies by these rules. Why? Get a reporter angry and you’ll see what I mean.
- Read outside of your market: When it comes to promotion, a ripple over there can affect what you’re doing here. Reading outside of your market, mostly related to changes affecting other markets, serves a couple of purposes. First, sometimes to be creative you have to look through your world using a different lens. By digging into and outside of your market, you’ll gain access to information that could affect your message long-term, or give your brain enough juice and insight to bring a new set of ideas that will create some great pitches.
- Media alerts: You can’t possibly follow every discussion around your topic, or know where and when it’s being covered, but you do need to stay informed. Try an alert system like Talkwalker or Mention.net . You’ll see who’s getting quoted, and which media is covering your industry.
- Understand the importance of local media: It’s not as glamorous or as big as national media, but there’s gold in your backyard. Local media loves their regional “celebrities.” If you haven’t done a local outreach, you should.
- Media leads: I subscribe to several media leads services and scan them for existing clients; and to note national trends. Scanning leads is a fantastic way to see what’s piquing the media interest, and you’ll also see tie-ins that you may not have seen previously.
- Realize the importance of a subject line: I can’t state enough how important it is or how much time a good publicist can spend agonizing over it. You should, too.
- It’s all about relationships: Once you get media, stay in touch with the person who interviewed you. Find them on LinkedIn, thank them for the story (I still send hand-written thank you notes) and follow up a few times a year. If you become a reliable media source for someone, you’ll likely always be in their rolodex.
Being a publicist is more than knowing how to craft a snazzy email; it’s an ongoing effort. If done right, you can accumulate a lot of great mentions, features and reviews. Know the rules, honor the rules, and if you’re lucky, the media will beat a path to your door.