Public Relations:  Again we ask, art or science?

The debate goes on but it seems there are plenty of people who think it’s both, yours truly included.  So I have some tips for newbies in the PR arena for setting themselves up for some sort of measurements to creative content (articles, interviews, event mentions, reviews, blurbs, and so on).

For PR start-ups or newbies doing PR for books, bands, business, whatever, if you haven’t figured out analytics yet, just measure the size of the write up or time the length of a television or radio interview and compare it to the size or time of advertising.  It’s a crude, and considered antiquated, means of measurement but it works.  And then add to that the credibility (in credible newspapers, magazines, and stations) of free press and the amount of coverage amounts for so much more.

And timeliness is essential:  Part of the science of PR includes timing and not just prime times to post on social media (as scientifically determined by measurement experts… heck out blogs on this… I have read many with varying advice and examples… make your own choices based on these, because they will still be more accurate than the times you choose randomly).  By timeliness, I mean don’t send out a release on a book, say, 12 months in advance because coverage probably won’t be garnered until about three or four months prior to availability of the manuscript.

Now of course there are always exceptions to everything (an arguable statement but this is my blog so these are my opinions intermingled with facts) and the exception to this “rule” is magazines, which have a much longer lead time than other forms of print media.  Those new to PR need to learn about this kind of stuff in order to be successful with placement.  Also, for instance when publicizing books, newspapers want “galley” (advance) copies of the work three or more months before the actual publication date.  I know for radio, I booked talent for a station in Florida, and it aired on a live, call-in segment with a California band within a week.

My point is, you are wasting your time if you don’t do research on matters like this.  You wouldn’t post an event to the media, in general, a couple of months in advance… you will be forgotten.  Again, sometimes this doesn’t apply, so find out early what the deadlines are.  That’s why I say to send out “evergreen” (information that is timeless) pieces when you don’t have anything specific to publicize.

A release on your band introducing you to the media is a worthwhile attempt at getting coverage.  Chances are you won’t garner much attention with this first release, but at least it’s an intro to the media so when you send out a follow-up release on the band (for instance going to the studio to record), people will hopefully remember you or your name or your background information.  This information should be included in new PR pieces sent out often enough so as to remind but not to “bug.”

For a book, the author might want to do a release introducing the work, and then send out a variation on that release with a bio on the writer shortly thereafter.  Then a few weeks later still, you could send out an entire press kit complete with a modified release, bio, mock-interview, photo, and so on.  Of course none of this should be done a year before the work is done  because once again, it will be forgotten by the time advance copies are available.

Both of these suggestions for bands and books are not exclusive of one another.  My message is, time yourself in frequency and time yourself according to deadlines.  If you have a Christmas event, start sending out info a couple of months in advance, culminating in the release about the gig or manuscript.  You can’t send this stuff out without a build-up for attention’s sake, but you also can’t do PR on this 12 months in advance nor 12 days.  Get it?

And make sure the information in your releases is meaningful… it can’t be all about how great you or your work is.  That info needs to be in the form of reviews, articles, interviews, or some form of coverage by someone other than you.  An inordinate number of accolades for yourself only makes you look pathetic, I swear.  Like I said in my blog on November 9 for Zildjian, “From the Street to Social…,” you might be the best band or most well-know author in your area, but that doesn’t mean you’re one of greatest whatevers.  Even blogger reviews merit inclusion in your press kit until you get local, regional, national, and hopefully international attention. (Now I don’t mean blogs like this, published for a national audience by an established business and PR specialist because I have the credibility of over 30 years experience… my website has the ear of experts in their respective industries as well as clients and other general followers.)

Back to media materials, you also need to revise as necessary… don’t put old, expired news in emails, tweets, packages, etc. that you send out.  It looks sloppy and lazy.  Comb through the info on yourself and do re-writes to update your news.

Lastly, don’t bug the media.  I am very cognizant of people’s tone, silence or talkativeness, questions, hurriedness or willingness to listen, etc. as cues and clues as to how much talking I should do to keep their attention without being obnoxious.  If the media person you’re speaking to sounds rushed, they may be disinterested or they may be genuinely in a hurry and have passed no judgment… that is, they may actually be interested in your info, works, projects, etc., but if you push, you are likely to “lose” them.  I always ask people if I can send them info via email or even regular mail/Fed Ex as need be, and if I can all them back in a certain time frame. And this time frame is not written instone:  It is my guesstimate as to when a good time to contact them would be.

Again, don’t bug the media.  Back when I was a feature writer, the more I was bothered by publicists pitching a piece the less inclined I was to do a story because they seemed desperate!  Good luck trying your hand at PR but remember:  You can’t do what professionals can so hire a PR expert… it’s worth the bucks!


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