PR for Authors, Writing and Sending Out a Press Release
Course 4 – PR for Authors, Writing and Sending Out a Press Release
Introduction To Course
The aim of this course is not to turn you into some PR guru who will be having cocktails in New York City tomorrow night with the Editor and Chief of the New York Times but is designed to help you create a PR plan that you can follow.
What is the purpose of PR
PR can stands for “Public Relations” however in most cases it used as a word to describe Publicity. For the purpose of this article we are going to assume that you are not an A list celebrity and therefore you don’t have much of a public to maintain a relationship with. We are going to focus on the Publicity part.
When people approach the creation of a PR campaign they often consider all the ways to get as much publicity as possible regardless of who is listening to them. As a celebrity this tactic can work as they are selling themselves to a wide audience and have millions of dollars to spend on their campaign.
Most of us need a PR campaign that can reach specifically potential buyers of our product. It doesn’t matter how many friends you have on LinkedIn and Facebook, if they have no need to ready your book. PR is about building relationships directly with the people you need to communicate with. It’s also about creating a simple, clear and concise message that people can remember.
So let’s start with the message.
Task 1 – Create your message
Okay, so you have done the hard work, you finished your book and got it published. Your book is on Amazon but so are millions of others, what makes your book different?
The first task when creating a PR campaign is what do you want to tell prospective buyers about your book? Get a note pad and write down three messages you want prospective buyers to know about your book, they should be no more than one sentence. I have created an example below:
The Writers Out Sushi Japanese Cook Book PR Campaign Messages
1. Bring Japanese cooking into your home.
2. Make sushi for a fraction of the costs you pay in a restaurant.
3. Mr. Tacako (the author) worked in one of Tokyo’s to sushi restaurants for 30 years and brings his secret recipes to you via The Writers Out Cook Book.
Task 2 – Check your message
Now you have created your three messages let’s put them to the test. Look back over them and ask yourself these questions:
1. Do my messages describe what I have to offer
2. Do my messages build up author/book credibility
3. Does my message clearly make an offer to the audience
Once you’re happy that they have done all three then it’s time to move on to the next task.
Task 3 Call to action
you will have noticed many press releases that are designed to sell something don’t have a call to action, that is because most people spend their designated PR time finding the audience but invest very little time in telling the audience what to do next.
A call to action is simply Marketing and PR speak for tell the reader what to do next. This is where Marketing and PR differ, if it was a website there would be a link to buy your book but in most cases your press release will not allow links. In PR the call to action usually is more difficult but the principles are the same.
You will have seen Musicians advertise their albums on TV and say out now at all good record stores. This is a simple call to action that is telling you to get down to your local record store or iTunes and buy their product. Now it’s your turn, write down your call to action. I have included one below as an example:
Mr. Tacako’s The Writers Out Sushi Cook Book is now available on Amazon, purchase you’re copy before January and receive a signed copy.
As you can see from this example this call to action has an incentive. A call to action with an incentive significantly increase your chances of the action being completed as the longer someone who intends to buy your book goes without purchasing it the less chance you have of making the sale.
Task 4 – Write the press release
Okay so, now you have the key messages and the call to action worked out it’s time to write the press release but before you do print out your key messages and call to action and stick them somewhere you can see them as these are going to be your guide. Below is your step by step guide to your press release:
Press Release Headline:
This is the first thing a reporter will read, remember the reporter isn’t interested in you making money or increasing book sales, they are only interested in attracting readers. A reporter uses a press release as a research paper to help them write their own story in many cases so it’s important to only give them the information that will attract readers. An example of a bad headline would be:
New Japanese Cookbook Now Available
An example of a good headline would be:
Celebrities Turn to a New Sushi Diet
Don’t worry that you haven’t sold your book in the headline, you will have all the time in the world to do that now you just hooked the reporter and their readers.
Press Release Sub-Header:
Okay so now you have your header you are able to use the sub header to clarify your angle on the story. An example of this could be:
Celebrities Turn to a New Sushi Diet
Top Tokyo sushi chef weighs in: Anyone can follow a sushi diet at home using some simple tricks.
As you can see we are using the headings to discreetly plug our three key messages and appealing to a specific audience across many different markets.
The Press Release lead:
In most cases the journalist and audience will only read the very first paragraph. It’s important in this paragraph to include the who, what, why, where and when. If this is all the journalist reads they should have all they need to writer their own story. An example of this is as follows:
It’s no secret that little Sushi pieces have become a big thing here in the US but now Hollywood celebrities are using the Japanese food as a nutritional diet. Top Tokyo chef, Mr. Tacako has seen a significant increase in discussion on his on line forum www.thewritersoutsushicookbook.com, especially from people hoping to emulate Hollywoods A list. Many people commented they would also like to benefit from a low fat and calorie diet but found it was too expensive to buy in restaurants. My Tacako explains why a Sushi diet doesn’t have to be so expensive and can be available to anyone who has access to simple ingredients.
As you can see from the above I kept to all three of the key messages, building readability, making an offer and introduced the idea of home cooked sushi.
The rest of the press release:
The remainder of the content serves to back up the headings and lead paragraph. Make sure that you use enough supporting material to back up your story to show the reporter that this isn’t just a press release you put together in 5 minutes. It’s important to include quotes such as:
“I was surprised at the acceptance in the US of sushi and shocked to see how much it costs in restaurants. In Japan sushi started out as a food for the poor and is eaten by many different types of people inside and outside their homes.”
Once you have built up your case and engaged with the audience it is time to introduce your book and what it has to offer. This can be done as follows:
Mr. Tacako was so blown away by the public response to sushi in the US he has written a sushi cookbook called The Writers Out Sushi Cookbook that allows even a novice to make professional sushi at home with little more than some high grade fish and rice.
Okay now is the time to put in the call to action:
Mr. Tacako’s The Writers Out Sushi Cook Book is now available on Amazon, you can purchase you’re copy before January and receive a signed copy.
The Boilerplate Text
Once the text of your case study is completed you can then include what the old newspapers referred to as boilerplate text. This should begin directly under the case study text and should include information on who the Author is and what the book is about. For example:
My Tacako begun making sushi in Tokyo’s top restaurants 30 years ago. At the age of 18 he began his training at the famous Tokyo Fish Academy and has since built up a reputation of combining new and old cooking techniques in Japanese cooking. Mr. Tacako’s new book The Writers Out Sushi Cook Book explains Japanese ingredients, techniques and how to create professional looking sushi dish’s in under 15 minutes.
Once you have completed the Boilerplate information you should type: ##### and underneath put your contact details. Please see the below example:
To learn more about Mr. Tacako and The Writers Out Sushi Cook Book or to schedule an interview please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call Jon Smith +1 111 222 3333
Conclusion of Press Release Writing:
Okay so you made it through your first professional press release. You want to check over it and ask yourself the following questions:
1. Is it shorter than two pages – shorter is better.
2. Did I write something my audience would like to read?
3. Will a journalist likely pick this out of hundreds of other releases?
If your answer is NO to any of these you need to re-look at the release and make some amends. Remember it’s no good having a press release that nobody bothers to read. If you are having trouble writing it still then let Writers Out help you and visit www.writersoutpublsihing.com and visit the Marketing tab.
Sending Out the Press Release
Now that you have a killer press release its time to get it distributed. At this point people again mistake PR for Marketing. This is not about having a list of Facebook or LinkedIn friends to send it to, don’t get me wrong, that helps. PR is about wide-net strategy, it’s about connecting with the general public and not just the people on your database.
There are free PR distribution websites but I’m still to see one that works. A good distribution list takes many years to build up so I suggest that you stick with a professional. You can elect to just send this to your database of contacts but to maximize effectiveness use a PR distribution company such as PR Newswire or Writers Out. To discuss your distribution with Writers Out please visit http://www.writersoutpublishing.com/author-services/marketing-3/
Professional news wires will send out your press release to thousands of reporters in your chosen region. These news releases often but not always lead to radio, television and print interviews.