On the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) blog “The Word” this week, member Gerry Souter writes about his experience with the publicists he hired to promote his fiftieth (!) book.
The short version of the story is that they all lived happily ever after. Souter and his publicity firm worked together as a team — he wrote the media relations tools while they made important connections on his behalf. They achieved what they wanted to.
There isn’t always a happy ending to these stories, though, as many of you know. But Souter did enough research to feel confident that the firm he hired could do what he wanted it to do — and that the chemistry was right.
How to find a good one
What’s the best way to make sure you’ll have a similar experience when you work with a publicist? Here are a few suggestions:
- Know what you need done. Some firms specialize; you don’t want to hire someone who prefers generating online exposure if what you really want is publicity in newspaper sports sections.
- Manage your expectations. Is your book really national morning TV talk show material? Most aren’t.
- Ask authors who have hired publicists for referrals. Then ask a few questions. What did they like about the firm, and what didn’t they like? What does the firm do best? Would they hire that person or firm again?
- Ask local business owners and journalists for referrals. If your primary goal is generating local exposure, you’ll do best with a local publicist. Entrepreneurs often have recommendations, as do reporters who are on the receiving end of pitches.
- Use author, book, and writers forums to request suggestions. People talk in forums. Ask them to share what they might know about good and bad publicists.
- Understand what’s involved. “7 things you need to know about working with a book publicist” will help prepare you.
If you’ve got the budget for a publicist, I want you to have the kind of experience that author Gerry Souter had. Be thoughtful about who you hire. Chemistry is important, but so are skills — and evidence of those skills. Make sure you see proof of similar results before you write that check.
Authors are always asking me for referrals to publicists. Who — other than yourself! — would you recommend?
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