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Welcome To SORMAG's Blog

Thursday, October 27, 2005

WORKSHOP: How to Make The Perfect Pitch - 2

Getting Ink: How to Make The Perfect Pitch

Perfect Pitch Communications — Michelle Buckley, Media Consultant

THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN PITCHING
YOUR BOOK OR YOURSELF TO THE MEDIA:

Know your targets.

Read publications, study sections/departments, target specific reporters or reviewers and watch or listen to programs you think will be appropriate for your book/message. Make sure the media outlet’s audience is a nice fit for the book you’re promoting. (For example: if your book is straight urban lit, don’t contact a gothic sci-fi pub. Don’t assume a book editor is the way to go — often lifestyle editors/reporters will give you more, less critical coverage.)

When in doubt about communicating — don’t be afraid to ask! Learn if contacts prefer mail, faxes, calls or email for initial contact. How should follow-up be handled? Make sure you call and send requested information when you say you will.

Know deadlines and always be respectful of them. If you’re doing signings and events, make sure you give the media plenty of notice. Begin contacting them weeks in advance.
When you do contact the media, remember to be enthusiastic, helpful and assertive, never rude, dismissive and overly aggressive. Also, avoid excessive hyperbole, don’t oversell your story, book and don’t be dishonest.

Always remember: how you interact with a reporter/editor today can affect your public relations efforts and sales tomorrow. (Reporters have long memories.)

Take advantage of free and inexpensive online press release distribution services like prweb.com and blackpr.com.

Know your story.

Without being too gimmicky or annoying, do what you can to make your presentation stand out. (The media gets tons of inquiries a day). Don’t just ask them to write an article about you and your book. Make sure your book’s message (and as a result your pitch) reflect one of the 7 key news hooks: (humanity, conflict, immediacy, locality, celebrity, novelty, timing). Is your message relevant/timely? Can it be tied to local/national issues or news/trends?

Educating the media is key. Don’t always assume the media already knows about you and your book. Have a standard media kit that includes a press release about the book, your bio, a photo of you, a fact sheet about key book themes (if appropriate), a copy of the book or sample chapters, book art, sample interview questions and an endorsements page.
Make your story compelling. Bring information to life. Use anecdotes, examples, controversial statements, excerpts, and facts/figures to tell your story.
Develop 3-4 key message points that will resonate with a given audience. The more you can show how your book will impact a media outlet’s audience the more likely they are to cover it.

MEDIA INTERVIEW REMINDERS:

Remember interviews are more than just fun conversations. They really serve a
purpose. Stay focused on what your purpose is and don’t let reporters influence that.

GET IN ALL THE MESSAGES YOU WANT, ANY WAY YOU CAN.

Always ask yourself: “how can I present myself or what can I say to make someone want to support me, buy my book, come to my event, etc?” Always have at least three messages you want to get across and hammer away at them!

Think like a reporter. Your job is to make their job easier. Start by giving them headlines and the big picture. Discuss possible visual elements. Avoid one size fits all stories. Help the media share in your vision. Make them feel like they’re getting a “scoop”. When possible, develop creative and unique pitches and angles crafted specifically for each media outlet’s audience.

Remember as a writer, you are a business. You have a skill base and skill set that can really help make a difference in the lives of people. Your book can create for people a wonderful reading experience and YOU ARE THUS PROVIDING A GREAT SERVICE.

Don’t be afraid to tell the reporter upfront what your goal is – more sales, better event attendance, etc. This can be done in a very informal way during introductions, before the interview even starts. My philosophy – you don’t usually get what you want/need unless you point-blank ask for it.

They may not always be able to accommodate you and may tell you – “we’re about news and not free promotion.” If that’s what they say don’t take it personally, don’t get an attitude and don’t let it affect the interview.

On the other hand, they could focus on exactly what you want, and you could wind up with mind-blowing coverage.

Remember, the editing process can get in the way of how you come across. So be very aware of that.

Always, where appropriate, talk in first person. Use a very personal perspective as much as possible. It’s all about you – make sure to use I (not you/we/they) when referring to the industry.
Talk in complete sentences – even when the interviewer seems rushed, or when you know you don’t have a lot of space/time to fill. It helps maintain context.
Don’t be too jargony or technical, if you can avoid it. Make sure the way you talk about your book is appropriate for the audience. Use snappy and compelling sound-bite language. Be brief, but thorough and always be clear on why a given audience will care about what you have to say.

KEEP IN MIND ALL REPORTERS HAVE AN ANGLE ON HOW THEY WANT THE STORY TO BE. THIS OFTEN COLORS THEIR APPROACH. YOU TOO, MUST HAVE AN ANGLE. REMEMBER WHAT YOU WANT TO GET ACROSS.

2 comments:

Shelia said...

Thanks. This has been very helpful.

Shelia (#16)

Michelle said...

Sheila, glad to be of help. If you have any specific questions, contact me at prgalkc@hotmail.com.

PS. I know I have to get back to you regarding getting your book considered for a movie! I'm looking for some contact info and will contact you next week offline.

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I believe in promoting authors and their books. Let me introduce you and your books to online readers.

I'm also a happily married mother of three who's trying to break into the Christian writing field. The writing road can be rocky.

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Contact me at:lchwriter@gmail.com

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