Friday, December 30, 2011

Exclusive PR

Some of my best media placements have come not because I had a celebrity, best-selling author or breaking news story to promote. In fact, aside from luck, timing and targeting the right person at the right media outlet, I can think of no better way to get media coverage than through one simple trick:  offer an exclusive.

The media loves getting an exclusive. It wants to be first and to scoop the competition.  So give them what they want.

By attaching the word “exclusive” you set a few things in motion.

First, you elevate your pitch into sounding important and demanding it be looked at.

Second, it forces a timely decision by that media outlet – either they want you or they don’t.  No need to follow up next week.

Third, it makes what you have to offer sound better than what it is and yet if your pitch is good and you have something interesting, you may just get someone to bite.

So what do you do if multiple media outlets say yes?  You break down the yeses by media type – first TV first newspaper, first magazine, first blog, first radio show, etc.  Within each media class there are outlets that don’t conflict with each other.  For instance, a local radio show in Philadelphia doesn’t compete with a national NPR show. A morning TV show doesn’t find national evening news programs to be their competition.  See what I mean?  So it turns out you may do five or six exclusive interviews without violating what it means to grant an exclusive. Further, once you do an interview with a big news outlet, the smaller ones will follow.

Interview With Author Josh Katzowitz

Josh Katzowitz has an untitled book about football great Sid Gillman due out in summer 2012 from / Clerisy Press and wrote Bearcats Rising, published in 2009 by Orange Frazer Press.

1.      What do you love about writing? Too many reasons to count. Taking the words and stories a person tells and making them better. Peppering a tale with details that really make a story sing. Finding the right balance between bland prose and overwritten swill. Drinking coffee in the morning or whiskey at night and letting my mind wander into my fingers. Finding an old story that has been long forgotten and shining it into a can't-miss anecdote. Finding your writing style and then forevermore tweaking and improving it. Reading what I wrote the night before and never being satisfied with it. And honestly, it's awfully satisfying to pour your soul into a book and then seeing the finished product. Even when you're exhausted from the previous research, interviews and writing, it makes you want to do it all over again.

2.      What is your latest book about? It's the the story of Sid Gillman, the only coach inducted in the Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame, and the lifelong impact he made on his players, fellow coaches and the modern-day game of football. He's the father of the modern passing offense, but for some reason, he's been allowed to fall through the cracks of NFL history. I'm trying to correct that. But it's more than just a story about football. It’s also the story of his life away from the field, about his wife, Esther, and his four children who vigorously love him and protect his legacy from those who forget his influence.

3.      What inspired you to write it? When I wrote Bearcats Rising, I found myself fascinated with what occurred in the 1920s, 30s, 40s, and 50s, and a big reason for that was Sid Gillman. First of all, there's never been a book written about him. Secondly, he's a fascinating character (innovative around a football program in ways that were legal and, um, maybe not quite as legal) with many good qualities and a few warts as well. Third, I wanted to explain to fans why the football they watch today isn't quite as new as they think. Gillman was inventing and perfecting some of the techniques you see today in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

4.      What advice do you have for a struggling writer? If you ask this question to any writer who knows what he or she is talking about, that person will tell you 1) to write every day and to write every chance you get and 2) to read other people's work until your brain is saturated. All of it is great advice. But my advice is something different, and it's this: develop a thick skin. Particularly when it comes to somebody editing your work. In this day, a college student can go years without anybody really touching their work if he/she has a personal blog and/or works for the student newspaper. But editing is so important - in the short term and the long term. There are lessons I've learned from English professors who tore apart my papers (one of those lessons being don't use the phrase "there are," like at the beginning of this sentence) and journalism professors who bled red correction marks all over my articles. But that kind of criticism - that kind of learning - made me a better writer. Listen, being edited by somebody else sucks. When somebody marks out a great turn of phrase you thought you had nailed, yeah, it stings. But simply put, if you're not being edited, you're not growing as a writer. So, take it like the big man or woman you are. Because it's only going to help in the long run.

5.      How are you taking advantage of the new marketplace to market, promote and sell your book? You have to be involved (and involved heavily) in social media. It's actually something at which I need to do a better job. It's all about Twitter and Facebook and your own personal website or whatever the newest phenomenon is. Of course, learning how to make social media work is an entirely different lesson of its own. For my first book, I kept a blog about what the process was like for a first-time author. That probably earned me a few extra buyers. An author I really admire, Jeff Pearlman, recently released a book on Walter Payton, and he did a series of video blogs on YouTube that talked about his process of writing and marketing his book. Unless you're a famous author who all he/she needs is his/her name to sell books, social media is certainly worth exploring. And, in most cases, it's imperative. 

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Planned Television Arts. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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