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Did you quote someone in your book? Use them to get local publicity

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.

local publicity 1Click 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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    1. Thanks, Marcia! I’ve got a binder of local media clips that’s an inch thick — from just one year of the competition.

      : )


      1. You mention the binder you kept of media clips. My new book’s launch is generating some newspaper clips. What is a good way to use these? Is it worth it to keep them in a binder? I thought about scanning & putting them on social media. Is that too cheesy?

        1. If the articles ran online, by all means, share the links via social media. I don’t see anything wrong with scanning and sharing them on social media when you don’t have a link to the article online. Just spread out the posts rather than bunching them all out together.


  1. If I’m writing a fictional novel on a subject and I’ve read non-fiction books on the subject, could I add the book title and author’s name without getting in trouble? Or do I need to get the author’s permission and/or let them know that I used the title of their book and their name in my novel?

  2. I am currently working on my own book.

    I am initially creating it electronically, so I’m not quite sure your suggestions would work. Maybe.

    Thanks for the post.

    Keep up the good work!

    – Sam

    1. Hi Sam,

      This concept applies to all book formats, but only if you’ve used information from individuals and given them credit for it in the book.

      Thanks for stopping by.


  3. I have just self-published a picture book, and I did come across “press releases”, but they only seem to apply to non-fiction books. Does one create a “press release” for picture books? What if I have used no one as a source? I apologise if these questions are silly. Thank you for the post.

    1. Mili, you want to write a press release that announces your book’s publication. It’s a different type of press release from what’s featured in this article. It’s used for both fiction and nonfiction books. You can learn more about why you want one and how to write it on this post, “Why you must have a press release that announces your book” at http://buildbookbuzz.com/why-you-must-have-a-press-release-that-announces-your-book/. I hope it’s helpful!


      1. Thank you very much, Sandy, for letting me know where to start on my book marketing journey. I really appreciate the time and effort you have put in your blog articles.

          1. Whoops! Thanks for letting me know, Mili. (I’m still laughing.) I just fixed it so I won’t confuse anyone else.

            : )


    1. I would only do that if you’re sending it to a weekly newspaper. A weekly might use the info, but a daily probably wouldn’t and radio and TV definitely wouldn’t.

      You could also send a completed press release to your endorser with media contact info. and suggest that he/she email it instead of you.


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