A unique blog dedicated to covering the worlds of book publishing and the news media, revealing creative ideas, practical strategies, interesting stories, and provocative opinions. Along the way, discover savvy but entertaining insights on book marketing, public relations, branding, and advertising from a veteran of two decades in the industry of book publishing publicity and marketing.
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Wednesday, September 25, 2019
To Promote A Book, Avoid These 21 Worst Media Practices!
My first pitch to the
news media came in 1989. I don’t recall
if it was by mail, phone, or fax. There
was no e-mail back then. But even three
decades later, regardless of how you deliver your pitch, the rules are the same
– find the right person at a targeted media outlet, contact them with a short,
focused, timely pitch. If one method,
say phone or email, doesn’t work, try another, such as mail, social media, or
messenger. Simple enough, right. Well…
Amazingly, the media
receives more pitches than it can handle, and of those it bothers to read or
listen to, few are very good or on point.
With several hundred thousand professional promoters out there – along
with millions of authors, celebrities, institutions, businesses, politicians,
non-profits, schools, and government agencies pitching the news media, there is
a lot of crap floating around. Why, you
The motive to get
PR is simple: It’s one of these at
play -- always:
MONEY – sell something.
EGO – pride of fame.
POLITICS -- persuade people on an issue.
HELP – serve the
There’s a lot at
stake in the world. Competition is
fierce, whether to sell a product, get a job, elect someone to office, or get
people to donate money. PR is the first
step for someone to seek to influence the masses.
Unfortunately, out of
desperation, low morals, lack of training, or brutish pride, there are a lot of
bad tactics employed to share lousy pitches to the media. Don’t make these mistakes:
send a very long pitch. Be prepared to
say what you need to say in 20 seconds or state it in a letter of no more than 4-5 short paragraphs (which should include bullet points and answer the
not send the same exact pitch to everyone on your media list. Customize it to the media outlet, the type of
beat covered, or a specific journalist-producer.
pitching yourself. Pitch a story. Your persona can show through it and your
credentials are important, but the media wants to know WHAT will be discussed
and WHY now?
cold-sending attachments. Spam filters
may gobble what journalists don’t just delete without opening.
ask the media for a favor. They are not
there to be your friend, serve your needs, or build your brand. They want what will help their career, meet
the demographics of their patrons and advertisers, and serve society well. They hate bullshit, begging, or getting
nothing new to work with.
of pitching media the way you want someone to leave you a voicemail. You don’t want a whole story on your
answering machine for two minutes – you want people to get to the point and leave contact
information. Don’t make the media search
for basic details and do not blitz them with links to a zillion things. They simply don’t have time to play detective
and investigate all of this stuff.
bribe them or suggest compensation for their coverage. You will offend them.
the media outlet and media person before you pitch it and them. Showing you know nothing about them is a
quick line to the waste basket.
present a generic angle to a common story – highlight your uniqueness to an
10.Do not risk alienating or offending
the media with an insensitive joke, comment, or story idea. Avoid race, religion, sex, and politics –
unless that’s what your book is about.
11.Don’t lie, make false claims, or
throw out crazy accusations that are baseless.
The media likes some controversy but they don’t want to boost
irresponsible statements from unknown nut jobs.
12.If you mail something, do not pack and tape it so well that one needs a saw to open it. Rely less on fancy packaging or give-away
premiums, and more on the substance of a good pitch.
13.Do not pitch an exclusive to more
than one media outlet in the same medium until one says yes or no.
14.Make sure you can backup any claims
that you make and never do a bait and switch headline where the pitch has
little or nothing to do with the headline.
15.Don’t bore the media. Your pitch should be lively with snappy
vocabulary words that reflect the level of subject matter being presented. Avoid clichés, profanity, or extremist
16.Don’t send a pitch until you have
done your homework and fact-checked your message. Make sure you use reliable sources to quote
17.Do not be impolite. Write please, thank you, and hello.
18.Avoid sending a pitch that wasn’t
proofread. Nothing gets tossed faster
than a misspelled or illiterate pitch.
19.Avoid pitching the media anything
if you are posting inappropriate content on social media or if your website
looks like crap. They will check you
out. You need to have a good brand.
20.Avoid repetition in a short pitch –
that means don’t state or restate the same thing and don’t keep using the same
words (vary them). Also, don’t include
images that are ambiguous or deemed sexist, racist, or anti-Semitic.
21.Lastly, don’t act as if what you
say is superior, stated for the first time, or so insightful – unless it really
is. See if others are saying what you say.
Be careful in your bid to stick out or sound confident – you may be seen
as a braggart and a blowhard.
The good news here –
so many people provide bad media pitches.
Good ones can still stick out. Go