Monday, September 22, 2014

Defining A Successful Book PR Campaign

I probably have worked with at least a thousand authors over the years, helping to promote them to the news media.  Interestingly, I noticed that an author’s level of satisfaction with the campaign is not always in proportion to the actual results.

For instance, I recently had a client interviewed by 20 local TV stations, 40 radio shows, dozens of online sites, and was the subject of a huge story in the Wall Street Journal.  She was a first-time author with a small, independent press.  In the end, she thought she deserved more coverage.

On the other hand, I’ve had authors achieve far less in terms of the size of their book publicity campaigns but they were overjoyed and thankful for the media placements.

Whether an author is happy or not with a PR campaign will depend not just on the actual results, but how the author measures things and puts everything into perspective.  They may have low or high expectations.  They may not understand or fully value what was achieved.  Or, they may not have the right yardstick to define success.

Here’s what authors should consider when evaluating a book marketing or PR initiative:
·         Branding
·         Messaging
·         Media Resume
·         Connections
·         Sales

One’s return on investment from a PR venture is not always immediately known or realized.  For instance, you may walk away from a PR campaign that yielded some credential-building clips but not many sales of your book.  To judge things solely by dollars spent and dollars received, the campaign fell short.  But if you start to realize that the press clippings give you a legitimacy that was lacking, you now have the medals to show on your website, on your resume, in your next book proposal, in your speaker’s kit, and in your social media.

When you look at branding, a PR campaign can begin to establish your image and give it a public definition.  The publicity effort can begin to give a look, sound, and voice as to how you want to be perceived.

For messaging, not only do you figure out the voice you want to be heard by others, you get a chance to share a positive message with impact and intensity to possibly millions of people.  The PR campaign gives you a forum or platform from which you can share a powerful message that influences others.

Your media resume comes from the collection of media clippings.  When you now have links to dozens of online reviews, print stories, TV appearances and radio interviews, you can show others you have been vetted, that you passed a litmus test.  Additionally, you can quote, from those stories and interviews, and put together scores of media testimonials that will serve to validate you when you venture into another project or market a new book.

Book PR campaigns greatly help to increase an author’s social media footprint and connectivity.  You can amass thousands of followers on Twitter, befriend countless people on Facebook, and build up your blog readership with a PR campaign.  By grooming a larger following you’ll be in position to do several things, one of which is to further your growth online.  Connections beget connections.  Further, bigger social media numbers convince others that you are a somebody.  Between your press clippings and social media following a PR campaign can help your present yourself as an established entity, which will help you down the road.

Sales, of course, are the gold standard measurement for the success of a book marketing and publicity campaign.  No metric can beat that.  The goal of all the PR and marketing is to have a financial pay-off.  But sometimes you can get great PR and sales don’t follow, in part due to distribution, quality of the book’s appearance, price, competition, etc.

Defining a successful campaign comes when an author looks at things honestly, from a distance, over time.  He or she may look back a year or two from today’s PR campaign and realize that it was successful – based on what followed and in comparison to another PR campaign of theirs or of another.

Certainly, a good PR campaign will help an author get to the next level and to build on prior achievements.  A solid PR campaign consists of a quantity of quality media placements that are experienced by a targeted group of consumers/readers.  And if the PR campaign falls short, it may offer another valuable asset: a chance to test your message out.  A failed PR campaign can be indicative of a poorly executed campaign or a book that falls short of its promise.

Most PR campaigns should be able to point to some level of success and whatever is accomplished as a result, use it to launch yourself to the next level.  PR is not a one-time thing nor is writing one book all that a writer will accomplish.  There will be more books and more PR campaigns – and hopefully both will grow together, perhaps because of one another.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, 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 © 2014

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