Thursday, August 16, 2012

Can Money Buy The Media?

A potential client asked me if he paid me more money would it increase the likelihood of campaign success. Of course I told him no. Book publicists are not like politicians who feel pressured to help their donors get favorable treatment on Capitol Hill. As a publicist I am not a hotel concierge or a restaurant hostess waiting to have my palm greased before I suddenly see a table become available.

But his offer made me wonder if money could play a role in influencing the news media. In some cases, it can. First, some publications are directly influenced or at least aware of its biggest advertisers. It will not bite the hand that feeds them.  Second, the media is influenced by relationships and if they don’t know who you are you have an uphill battle vs. them knowing a publicist whom they trust or like. An author who hires a publicist has an advantage over others.  Third, if one has money to spare, they could dress up their PR efforts with parties, fancy packaging, a better designed product, or fund attention-getting stunts. But still, no amount of money will get a media outlet to see a story when one does not exist. For the most part, merit and substance still drive editorial content decisions, yet so do ratings, ad revenue, and competition.

My potential client wanted to know if we’d go the extra mile to pull favors and trade well-earned currency with media connections to help them out. He even implied the extra money would be given to us because we would purposely suppress our efforts on behalf f other clients so that he had a better chance of success. It simply does not work that way. Publicists should only take on a client because he or she believes publicity is achievable. Of course the publicist should be compensated fairly, even well, but no amount of money thrown at a publicist will lead to a significant increase in their effectiveness.

As a publicist, either you can or cannot do something, regardless of what you are paid. Whether you choose to do something is another story. But whether you add a zero to the check to promote you, my ability to get you media coverage from a specific media outlet has not changed.

But I wonder if this is what authors or some publishers naively think about book publicists, that all that has to be done is throw them a certain amount of money and presto, you will be a media star and best-selling author. It just doesn’t happen that way. Money can buy many things, from mansions and fancy cars to sex and security – and to access to many places, things, and people – but whatever you pay a publicist won’t make your book any more interesting than it already is.

Interview With Author B. E. Dennis

1.      What type of books do you write? First, I would like to take the opportunity to introduce myself.  I am B. E. Dennis.  After 35 years of supporting and working for various federal agencies, I am launching a new career as an author.  I have decided to share my experiences on the fiction stage (to protect everyone).  Combining my passion for ancient mysteries and the unanswered questions of ancient cultures with the seemingly unending stories of today’s conspiracies fit the type of stories I enjoy and want to pass on to a broad audience.  I sprinkle in action to round out the stories and characters.  I would also like to take this time to thank you for the opportunity to announce the release of my latest book series.

2.      What is your latest or upcoming book about? I am putting the last finishing touches on the full release of a story spanning three books, a trilogy.  The Crystal Skull Trilogy includes the book titles; Crystal GiftCrystal Grotto, andCrystal Grave.  The book series is available through all on-line retailers in both print version (paperback) and eBook formats.  The Crystal Skull Trilogy weaves a story of action and conspiracy blending the ancient crystal skulls and Atlantis with the technology of today.  Putting a group of naive scientists in the middle of a struggle between a shadow group attempting global dominance and world governments trying to fend off the economic threat associated with the quest for a long lost ancient power.  To protect the scientists, the tarnished face of the CIA emerges.  As names and identities change, a few good characters remain constantly vigilant to protect the fragile economic balance of the planet.  Conspiracy, action, history, and technology are woven together into a work of fiction to entertain the reader.  I hope the reading may think this fiction may just possibly follow fact.

Crystal Gift starts the story with the discovery of ancient artifacts sought by both the academic community and a shadow government.  The academic community follows the search for knowledge while the shadow government recognizes a chance to increase their global power and dominance.  Crystal Grotto deepens the plot with a diversion from accepted historical norms.  The plot and story weave a quilt spanning 15,000 years of human history with the ever present battle between good and evil.  Crystal Grave brings the plot to the verge of boiling over until the struggle for redemption is finally faced with the economic survival of the planet in the balance.  Several final plot twists are reserved for the final climax and story ending.
My next project follows a similar mold of combining history and conspiracies.  Money and power trying to steal what they desire with little regard for the masses or the individual.  Though my stories are fiction, the same plots play out daily in the news headlines.

3.      What inspired you to write it? On a warm night in San Juan, I looked up at the night’s sky and wondered about several unanswered questions predating recorded human history.  My wonder turned to speculation and in a short time to a story line.  At that point I was hooked.  I started piecing together the framework of a basic story line.  As the plot grew, it took on a life of its own.  As the story finally developed and took form, I initially wanted to share a good story with the world.  I didn’t have a desire to try to influence thoughts or actions of an audience.  In time I realized that even fiction can persuade people to keep an open mind about the possible solutions to the unanswered questions of the distant past.  I enjoy following a plot and storyline.  I am excited with the anticipation to see just where the story can take me.  I strive to keep the story details technically accurate to keep plausibility.  I know if I am in the field, only certain things are possible.  Though I think a certain insight to my experiences might just surprise the reader.

4.      What did you do before you became an author? As I noted earlier, I have 35 years experience supporting and working for various Federal Agencies.  Most of my service has been out in the field.  As I look towards my service retirement, authoring tales will be my profession of the future.  Right now, I am still working within the government system.

5.      How does it feel to be a published author? Writing fiction is really about entertainment, and I enjoy sharing a story.  The greatest joy I get is when I hear that readers have enjoyed my story.  I am especially excited when I hear that a certain plot twist surprised and excited a reader.  I am also pleased when a reader is able to discover one or more of the several hidden messages within the story and even on the cover of my books.  I didn’t intend to influence a large audience, but when I realize that even a few readers look differently at world conspiracies, I am thrilled.

6.      Any advice for struggling writers? Recognize that your audience is smart.  You can withhold the obvious to help develop a surprise.  The reader will use their imagination.  Remember, fiction reaches into the ‘theater of the mind’.  Let, or even encourage your reader to use their imagination.  Their imagination can keep them involved and thus adds to the entertainment experience.  Remember, fiction is all about entertainment.

7.      Where do you see book publishing heading? The world of publishing is changing almost daily with the internet and advancing technologies.  In our world of instant (or at least quick) gratification, waiting for a traditional publishing process is unacceptable to many authors and their audience.  With self-publishing on the fast track to the top, there is no reason to he held hostage by old traditions.  Social media, such as this blog, are being recognized as legitimate sources for promotion.  Both music and book publishing is reaping the rewards of these new ways of doing business.  The ability to share stories is endless.  At the same time, the competition for the reader’s time grows at the same rate that publishing avenues expand.  A good story is the key to entertaining an audience.  Our profession is one of entertainment.

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