Target Your Reader, Not the President

by Kevin Gray, Public Relations Manager

The first rule of publicity has always been “there’s no bad publicity.” Well maybe there is. An, what’s being described as, “overexuberant” author hurled his book at President Obama during a rally in Philly on Monday. Reportedly the scribe wanted to ensure that the President got a copy of his book. For those authors thinking of employing the same approach — DON’T! This is a good way to end up with 15-20 years of quiet time in a small cage.

Nearly every month, I get calls from authors who want to “get on Oprah” or “get their books to the President.” While I appreciate the enthusiasm of these folks for their works; these are not practical approaches to bringing your masterpiece to readers. A well-planned, strategic integrated approach will get you much further. Start small, build a foundation then expand outward.

Think of publicity as dropping a pebble in the middle of a pond. It starts as a small disturbance before rippling out across the water to the distant shore. Dropping the pebble near the shore, won’t get the same long lasting effect.

One of my favorite examples of this phenomenon occured a couple of years ago. The authors of Lucia’s Survivial Guide and Cookbook landed an article in their small, local paper in California. The book is a collection of recipes and housekeeping tips complied 30 years ago by Lucille Campilongo for her daughter Gina to use while studying overseas. Gina chose to self-publish the tattered notebook and to give to her mother for Mother’s Day. The local paper picked up the story and that was that.

Except that a certain host of The Today Show happened to be reading that small local paper; and instructed her producer to contact the self-publisher. A month later, Lucille, Gina and Lucille’s granddaughter were guests on The Today Show. Thousands of books were purchased and media all over the country picked up on the story. All from an article in a small local paper about a gift from a daughter to her mother.

Pretty big pebble.

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