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Publicity 101

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Did you ever play with blocks when you were a kid? You always used the same set, but you mixed and matched the pieces differently every time you built something. Constructing a publicity campaign directed to consumers is similar.
There are four major types of general consumer publicity campaigns: national, regional, local, and grassroots. Let’s take a look at the core building blocks for each one, bearing in mind that they can be mixed and matched in infinite variations.

National consumer campaigns. A national campaign means publicity that reaches the entire country. It can consist of three building blocks:

  • Print coverage via national newspapers, magazines, syndicated columnists, and wire services
  • Broadcast coverage via network, syndicated, and national cable television talk shows, and network and syndicated radio outlets
  • A media tour, in which an author does local print and broadcast interviews coast to coast, visiting a city per day

Regional consumer campaigns. A regional campaign targets a specific part of the country, such as the Midwest, deep South, or northeastern seaboard. Regional campaigns have two building blocks:

  • Print outlets, such as daily and community newspapers, newsletters, and magazines
  • Broadcast media, like local network affiliate and regional cable television shows, and regional radio shows

Local consumer campaigns. A local publicity campaign, which is sometimes called a market-specific campaign, targets one city. Local campaigns can use two building blocks:

  • Print coverage in local daily newspapers, weekly community papers, newsletters, and city journals and magazines
  • Broadcast placements with network affiliate, regional cable, local independent television shows, and local radio programs

Grassroots consumer campaigns. Grassroots campaigns are similar to local campaigns, except they target much smaller markets, such as rural towns and little villages scattered across the map. These campaigns can be made up of two blocks:

  • Print
  • Broadcast

 

Tailored to Fit


How do you know which types of campaigns are best for a particular book? Carefully examine such variables as:

 

  • Initial print run
  • Budget
  • Author expertise and interview ability
  • Target demographic
  • Distribution details
  • Newsworthiness
  • Time lines
  • Logistical concerns (such as author availability)

Then use logic. With a book that’s highly publicizable, the rule of thumb is to start out with national media, then segue into a tour or local press. On the other hand, if you’re promoting a book that’s more obscure or targets a narrower demographic, you may want to start out small with grassroots and local media before pitching national print and broadcast. Some books are best served by an aggressive regional campaign. Think about how publicity, public relations, and promotions can be tailored to enhance the strengths and compensate for the weaknesses of each specific book.

I’d like to share a final secret with you about campaign choices. Be resourceful. For example, if you’re publicizing a book that could benefit greatly from a media tour, but there’s no budget for it, you can generate similar excitement by doing radio and newspaper phoners in 10 or 20 markets, plus national television. No matter what obstacle is placed in front of you, stop for a moment, analyze all the elements, ponder each of the building blocks we’ve discussed, then unleash your creative acumen and engineer a campaign.

Occasionally you may have to go on a limb in support of a daring idea. Take the risk! Publicity is about courage and imagination.

Jodee Blanco has publicized dozens of books that became regional and national bestsellers. The author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Please Stop Laughing at Me, she was a founding partner and former president of the PR firm Blanco & Peace. This article is excerpted from the new edition of her book The Complete Guide to Book Publicity.

Reprinted from Independent Book Publishers Association

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