Value of Having PR Representation

Recently in this missive I wrote about the Christian Product Expo (CPE) and how important I felt authors were to making the show special, because Christian books aren’t just any old product one might find at zillions of other trade shows. They come from the heart and soul of the author and God uses them to help accomplish His work on earth.

I went on to describe the show and why you might want to be there. (If you missed that post you can find it here.)

Then I spoke about Christian media, and how their representatives also attend the show because they too want to connect with authors and interview them.

If you are an author, that last sentence may have excited or terrified you. Or both.

However, I opened that post with some sentences about interviews I realize now I didn’t develop very well, so I’m coming back to the topic again and let me repeat a bit of what I said:

If you are an author, have you had any media interviews? If you have been lucky enough to have any, and if they were with a radio program, chances are the interview was over the phone.

Would you be ready for a face-to-face interview? Do you know what’s expected of you?

But then…. I never explained further.  Preparing an author for an interview and guiding them through the protocol, etiquette and professional behavior expected of them is part of what I do as a book publicist.

Over the years, I’ve started to think that most months of the year, though many authors may be surprised to realize how much work there is to do to market their books, they feel they can manage just fine on their own from their home offices. They don’t feel they have the budget to invest in extras like a paid publicist. Of course, some of them feel the same way about doing their own editing, proof reading and cover design. And if you’ve been around this industry for a while, you have seen enough books to know that some authors are more successful than others at doing all of that on their own.

The same goes for publicity. There is a lot you can do on your own, but there are definitely some ways that a publicist can help you. For example, when it comes to face-to-face interactions with the media, as well as other organizations, many people find it makes sense to have a publicist on board.

And sometimes you can’t even be considered for an opportunity unless you have someone else representing you. It’s a mark of professionalism on the author’s part. And it tells the organization you are trying to connect with that you are serious.

One example. Early in my years of representing individual authors (instead of working in a company PR department) one of my author clients contacted me. She was trying to make a connection with a famous author to ask him to read her book.

His staff (of course she didn’t reach him, just “his person”) said the author would only accept a request like that from another author if it came through the asking author’s publicist.

I got it. The famous author only wanted to even consider requests from other professional authors and that served to cull out the less serious.

And then there was the time when a first-time author was really sure she didn’t need my help any further and presumably felt since there were going to be so many media folks at the trade show that she should be able to make connections on her own.

But she didn’t.

Or the time I’ve written about when the earnest and excited fiction author kept four people and a dog waiting while she interrupted a journalist between interviews then didn’t have the paper she needed and had to run out in the hallway and find it. Then she came back in to explain about her book while these people waited for the kind journalist to be free for their scheduled interview. I’ve often wondered how the author remembers that encounter, but I bet she had no idea that she had likely just ruined her chances of being taken seriously enough by the journalist to ever be interviewed.

And that journalist is someone who regularly tells me how much he appreciates the professionalism of book publicists who understand enough about his world to make his job easy.

I am convinced I have successfully booked interviews for some authors who would otherwise not be considered because the journalist making the decision knows I will make it easy for them. There will be press materials, the author will show up and be on time, I will handle most of the newbie author questions the busy journalist doesn’t really have time for, and I will take some photos, plus keep the author calm and ready to be delightful and thoughtful in the coming interview.

There’s more to it than that, but that gives you the idea of a benefit of having someone to help you when you are in person at events like CPE.

Then there’s the rest of the year. Another important aspect of obtaining publicity is having a media list and media contacts. Authors sometimes have great contacts. And most people know someone who has a podcast.

But in my shop, we have some bigger tools in our arsenal like a national database of hundreds of thousands of media contacts, a proprietary company media list we continue to hone and update, our own news release distribution website, as well as personal contacts with media folks nationwide who welcome Buoyancy authors.

Plus, we not only have academic credentials that help us write in journalistic style, but we also have some professional knowledge of what might make a story work for a journalist and so can craft an approach to take to draw their attention.

I don’t always get it right, but I’ve had years of experience writing pitches and trying to interest the media in the topics about which author clients write.

The work goes on all year round remotely for me too. But a couple of times a year, we work in person, face to face, which offers unique challenges and exciting opportunities.

At these trade show events, I believe a PR person is of particular value to an author.

I suspect I’ll return to the topic of the value of a publicist before long, but that’s enough for today. By the way, talk to me soon if you think you might want more information about how we can serve you, especially if you are interested in CPE, August 4-6 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We do still have space for some authors to join Buoyancy for media representation, as well as in our booth.  After CPE, we’ll also start talking about the next in-person opportunity, and that’s the National Religious Broadcasters convention, NRB, coming up in February 2025 in the Dallas area.

Originally sent as an email to the Buoyancy community on June 21, 2024
Joni Sullivan Baker
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