Danielle Douglas operates with
decade of publicity experience, specializing in Christian publishing.
She has worked in-house publicity with publishers such as Thomas
Nelson, B&H, and NavPress. Over the course of the past decade,
she’s worked as part of the initial publicity launch for such well
known titles as Wild at Heart and Blue
Like Jazz and has worked with
many well known authors including John & Stasi Eldredge, Don
Miller, Charles Stanley, and Anita Renfroe. She also has experience on
the other side of publicity as well having worked as a reporter
& photographer for the Smithville Democrat-Herald
and as a promotions coordinator for KCLR-FM in Columbia, MO.
Dictionary.com defines publicity as “extensive mention in the news media or by word of mouth or other means of communication.” In the ever-evolving media marketplace, however, publicity has come to mean so much more. Publicity in the news media is wonderful, but countless magazines, blogs, Web sites, and social media outlets are also excellent outlets for publicity coverage. Simply put, publicity seeks to make a message, product, or idea stand out in today’s cluttered media market without purchasing advertising or editorial space.
Think about it. Every day we are inundated with media messages via television, radio, computers, BlackBerrys, iPods, billboards, and signs. So many messages are out there that it’s impossible to keep track of them all. In many ways, we’ve become desensitized to advertisements. We fast-forward through commercials with our DVRs. We throw away the direct mail pieces in our mailboxes. We ignore the telemarketers by using caller ID. When we read a newspaper article, however, we pay attention. When we listen to a favorite radio host, we concentrate on what he or she is saying. Subconsciously our minds grant more credibility to messages that are presented as part of a bigger article or program. Conversely, we tend to overlook advertising messages unless they are particularly clever or salacious.
Publicity is the art of getting a specific message woven into a bigger article or program. It can be as simple as a brief mention about a product as a readers’ resource or as big as a feature story with your message front and center. Publicity generated those articles or programs and their impact will be much larger than a similarly placed advertisement. A well-organized and well-timed publicity campaign can help launch a book or author into a best seller.
Every author and every book needs a strategic, well-executed publicity campaign to help raise awareness in the marketplace. I’ve witnessed train wrecks that resulted from publicity campaigns that were poorly timed and executed. It harms not only the book, but ultimately the author, publicist, and publishing house as well. Taking the time to formulate an individualized plan prior to the launch of the campaign can make all the difference in the world. I offer each of my clients a proposed timeline that outlines each phase of the campaign, complete with goals and tactics.
Heightened awareness helps drive customers to bookstores and helps bookstores sell books. It also builds on itself to create more awareness as producers, editors, and writers, who are media consumers themselves, notice the increased media coverage. Publicity, ironically, begets more publicity. Once you get the ball rolling, it tends to take on a life of its own. This is how some of the best-selling books that I’ve represented have gotten started: grassroots publicity. Being willing to do local radio stations, regional television shows, and weekly newspaper articles is critical because it helps to generate “buzz” that can ultimately grab the attention of the national media.
This is why publicity is so critical. A timely, strategic, and well-planned publicity launch can reap rewards for months and years to come. While many media outlets wait for the actual publication of the book, some outlets work up to four to six months in advance of the publication date, meaning that publicity strategy for a book is often laid six to eight months in advance of its release.
Hiring the right publicity contractor or firm is critical to the success of the campaign. I have over a decade of publicity
experience in Christian publishing, but mine is one of countless other contractors and firms. Keeping a few key things in mind when hiring your publicity campaign will help ensure a good fit.
Does the publicist have Christian industry experience?
It is important to understand the nuances of the Christian publishing and media industries and be able to pitch to those outlets appropriately. While many similarities exist between Christian media outlets and mainstream media outlets, Christian media outlets definitely have some idiosyncrasies in terms of the material they are looking to cover and how they want to receive information. With over ten years of experience in the Christian industry, I offer my clients an inside look into Christian media outlets and their unique interests and challenges.
Does the publicist understand my book and its topic well?
This is absolutely vital. Did the publicist read your book before offering you a contract, or are they more interested in the business than the book? I read every book prior to beginning any publicity campaign so that I understand not only the nuances of the book but also have a working knowledge of various different media angles that might work. This is incredibly important in today’s media culture when topics crop up overnight. Your book might have an appropriate media angle that would fit into today’s media conversations.
Does the publicist have professional relationships with various media outlets?
Relationships are the lifeblood of any publicist. Having a relationship in place with a producer or editor can frequently tip the scales in your favor when a tough decision needs to be made. While relationships alone will not secure decent media coverage, it can be the deciding factor in many cases. A good publicist should be experienced and have a history with the media you want to secure. I have worked at three Christian publishing houses of various sizes and, therefore, have a well-rounded professional background working with various authors, projects, and budgets.
Will your publicist change approaches in the middle of the campaign?
This can often make or break a campaign. Often the initial media angle may not work. If the media don’t respond to the first press release, is your publicist willing to write multiple press releases with new hooks and angles to capture the attention of the media? Topics being covered by the media change in real-time. Can your publicist make necessary adjustments in real time as well? I keep my list of clients to a minimum so that I can respond quickly, both to the author and to the media outlets. Responsiveness is absolutely critical in today’s media who often have very short lead cycles and need to have the latest topic or guest.
Publicity is an investment in the future that can reap a host of benefits for months and years if done correctly the first time. E-mail me at email@example.com for a complementary review of your publicity needs. Or you can visit www.danielledouglaspublicrelations.com for further information.