Black Velvet Canadian Whisky originally built its brand in the U.S. around billboard and magazine advertising featuring “the Black Velvet lady,” a stunning, but approachable, blonde lounging in a black velvet dress.
The iconic campaign was a launchpad for many of America’s first generation of super models, including Christie Brinkley, Cybill Shepherd, Cheryl Tiegs, and Kim Alexis.
When hired by the brand’s importer to build excitement around the advertising, I worked with the brand team to create “The Black Velvet Model Search,” a nationwide grassroots search for the next Black Velvet lady. The contest had two elements — live competitions in key markets across the country and a mail-in option available through entry forms in liquor stores.
Local publicity leads to national award
The competition went on to win a national award for publicity excellence in the beverage alcohol industry for one reason: I created a press release “factory” that customized all of the press materials for each local market. The media outlets in each city where there were live competitions received a localized press release with a:
- Local dateline
- List of local events complete with date, time, and place
- Name and telephone number of the local distributor to call for an interview
Technology allowed me to merge a fill-in-the-blanks type press release with a database of localized information to generate these regional press releases, each sent only to media outlets relevant for that city’s events.
Because of this localization (and lots of telephone follow-up with the press), the brand received an impressive amount of local print and broadcast publicity — at its peak, the Black Velvet Model Search was named the best beverage alcohol publicity program in the country. That free media exposure also contributed to a brand sales increase in an industry that was experiencing a slump.
Use this tactic to generate publicity for your book
So what does this have to do with authors publicizing their books? Believe it or not, there’s an idea in this for nonfiction authors who have quoted others in their books:
Create a fill-in-the-blanks press release to send to the hometown media of each of the experts or other types of resources — including sources of anecdotes — in your book.
Here’s a sample fill-in-the-blanks press release to get you started. Because it’s so generic, you’ll want to make sure your resulting press release for each source reads well and makes sense, but that won’t be hard.
Click here to download and save the template: Template press release for sources
How to use it
After completing the press release, send it to the appropriate media contacts in each community. E-mail it by copying and pasting the completed press release into the e-mail message (don’t attach it).
For this type of news, you’ll send it newspapers and radio stations, but not TV stations. TV news programs don’t use this material. At each outlet, send it to:
- Weekly newspaper: Editor
- Daily newspaper: The appropriate section editor or beat reporter, depending on the book’s topic (lifestyle? religion? business? education?) and the local section editor
- Radio stations: Producer of morning drive-time programming
Consider asking your source for help with the names of local media contacts but if that’s not possible, you can get everything you need online or by calling.
Yes, it’s work
I won’t pretend that this doesn’t take time and effort. But I won both a national and local publicity award for a client by making this effort to get the most exposure possible while the client enjoyed an increase in sales as a result. Anything you can do to get exposure for your book will help, and this tactic won’t cost you a cent. All you need is time. (Short on time? Get an intern.)
Your book, and your relationship with your sources, will benefit from any resulting exposure.
What do you think of this tactic? Are you willing to give it a try?
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