Monday, October 21, 2013

Crisis PR For Authors

Some may say all of PR for authors is crisis PR because many authors find themselves feeling stressed out about their PR campaigns. Some are never happy and others are fearful they’ll actually get the PR they’d hoped to get. But true crisis PR rarely involves authors. Crisis PR is about people or brands caught in a lie, a loss, or a negative event, rumor or claim. Think oil spills, Wall Street scandals, or tawdry affairs being outed. Still, many authors need guidance on how to handle their crisis moments.

Let’s redefine a crisis for an author. I would say authors are rattled when any of the following happens:

1.      They are misquoted in an interview.

2.      They receive a bad review.

3.      An interviewer asks a tough question in a way that sounds like the author is being attacked.

4.      When a negative moment or past situation is uncovered.

5.      When the author’s personal life impacts media coverage.

6.      When the author is asked questions he or she feels unqualified to answer.

7.      When the media outlet doesn’t sound like they read your book or know much about you while you are grilled by them.

8.      When an author appearance or media interview is cancelled or delayed due to bad weather, disaster, breaking news, etc.

9.      When your pants rip, your lipstick runs, your shirt gets stained or you feel exhausted right before a major media appearance.

There are solutions to each of these setbacks. The key is to prepare for them and where possible, take steps to avoid the problems from coming about in the first place.. here are the ways to combat the above-referenced dilemmas:

1.      Authors and politicians, businesses, crime victims, and others get misquoted. When it happens, you just have to move on. If you think the error was so awful, contact the outlet and ask for a correction. To avoid misquotes you can simply not give interviews, but then where would you be? However, when answering a journalist’s questions, try to be clear and repeat yourself when necessary. If you can, follow up your interview by e-mailing key points and quotable statements that may get used for the article.

2.      Bad reviews will happen. It’s the risk you take when you solicit reviews. In the long run, you should expect way more positive reviews than negative ones. Consider the critical reviews as aberrations, but if possible, learn from what they say. Further, look for a few positive words in the review and quote them in your reviews/testimonials.

3.      Sometimes the media has an agenda and beneath a question is an editorial or an opinion. Don’t worry about it. You just see the question as an opportunity to make the points that you want to make. Don’t feel obligated to get into an argument -- unless you feel the topic is controversial and you feel at ease getting into a verbal sparring match.

4.      The more famous you become, the more people dig up about you and unearth the wrongs of your life. No one’s perfect. It’s unlikely someone will dig up negative dirt right away but if you know you have a skeleton in your closet, think about what you’ll do and say once it is exposed.

5.      No doubt things will be going on in your life when promoting your book, including relationship issues, money problems, family affairs, health setbacks and any number of things that pop up in life. You’ll need to find a way to shut those things out while you are promoting your book. Don’t use personal life shortcomings as an excuse not to promote your book but sometimes major events happen -- death, divorce, sickness or job loss that simply will overshadow or burden your PR efforts.

6.      If you’re asked a question you don’t feel you can answer or are not qualified to answer, say so. Better to be honest than to bullshit your way into possibly saying the wrong thing.

7.      Don’t worry what an interviewer knows or what they read -- just give them the key points to help shape the article or interview.

8.      Stuff happens that’s out of your control. Try to reschedule missed interviews or move on and hope to replace it with something equally as good, if not better.

9.      We all find ourselves not looking or feeling our best during crucial moments. Bring backup clothes and check yourself in a mirror. And drink lots of coffee, to put a jolt in your step.

The only crisis authors need to worry about is if they aren’t generating a quantity of quality media coverage. But even that has a solution: keep trying, change what you’re doing and seek professional help (I don’t mean a psychiatrist).

Good Luck!

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013

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