Thursday, May 21, 2015

How To Connect To The Media Like It’s 1998

I had lunch with a publicist at a growing medium-sized, New York City based publisher and discussed the trends and challenges to generating publicity for today’s books and authors.  I was not surprised when this beautiful young woman told me that she and her fellow Millennials rely almost solely on email and digital contacts with the news media.  I tried to exhort the value and utility of supplementing such efforts with good old phone calls. I don't know if she fully appreciates the advice.

My colleague at work, a Boomer Baby, reported to me that he got a Fox-TV booking, a meeting with a CBS This Morning Weekend Show producer, and a potential New Yorker article all with phone calls.  He said after mailing books and sending follow-up emails the only real tool he had to reach and persuade the media was the phone. It worked. He even took it a step further and converted a call into an in-person meeting.

Now, this doesn’t’ mean email will fail us or that calls will always produce big bookings, but it’s obvious that we must vary our pitches, our timing, and our means of contact if we are to reach, influence, and impact the media.

The same goes with networking.  Sure, it’s convenient to meet people online at sites like LinkedIn or Facebook, but to really further those relationships, phone calls and meet-ups really help.

The other day I met a 30-year-old travel expert who is regularly interviewed by the media and I concluded the 15-minute conversation by exchanging business cards.  She didn’t have one.  I asked why not.  She said she just gives out her Instagram page.  I told her it’s not always practical.  Now I have to remember her page or write it down immediately?  What if I’m not on that social media platform?  It’s just dumb not to use business cards.  Paper, phones, and postal mail should not be demonized or ignored.  They have their purpose and can be an asset to you.

Another thing I’m noticing is that communication have gotten shorter and thus less detailed – which causes more people to ask more questions and for clarification. Or worse, people throw too much at you in an email or attachment and overwhelm you with useless materials.  Can’t we find the right balance of sharing useful, detailed, and relevant information?

I’m finding we’re beginning to segregate based on social media platforms.  There’s a whole other world on Pinterest than on LinkedIn, and Twitter is not YouTube.  Some of us use multiple platforms – or none at all.  The same goes with traditional media.  Some watch TV, but some stream and download things that few see.  Everyone’s reading, listening, and watching two different things – or the same things but at different times. The variety and choice are wonderful, but as a society, we’re losing a core foundation of information and entertainment that a vast majority can reference or understand.

There is also a chasm in the book world. You have e-book only vs. print and e-book or Print On Demand vs. printed books.  There’s the Amazon Kindle, the Nook, other competing devices, each with exclusive titles.  There’s self-published vs. traditionally published, fiction vs. non-fiction, and unknown author vs. bestselling author.  This is all normal and fine but I wonder how society will continue to grow as it breaks down into different content silos and information segregation.

All types of media are looking to get into the business of others and everyone wants to commoditize content.  Mergers happen daily as brands look to align with what they don’t have or with those that threaten them.  What will the mass media landscape look like in 2025 and how does one position themselves for the coming changes?

We can’t turn the clocks back nor can we speed up the future.  We need to strike a balance between old and new, paper and digital, tech and in-person.  Society will be in flux for a while and until an exact standard or formula is established, diversity your portfolio of communication styles.  Call!  Email!  Snail mail!  Meet in person!

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. 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 © 2015

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