A little story first: Michael Levine once sent out a great package for his book, Lessons at the Halfway Point (Celestial Arts). The package included three pages with cartoons at the top and some brief information about the book at the bottom.
The fourth page was excerpted from Reader’s Digest, which featured a quote from his book in their Quotable Quotes section: “Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist.” Such a quote subtly gives the Reader’s Digest seal of approval on the book.
Ten Commandments for Dealing with the Media
The following ten commandments are reprinted with permission from Michael Levine’s book, Guerrilla P.R.: Waging an Effective Publicity Campaign without Growing Broke, published by Harper/Collins. It is the most widely used introduction to PR in this country.
Note that the comments below the commandments are mine (John Kremer).
1. Never be boring. Never!
The worst sin in writing news releases is writing run-of-the-mill news releases. Write something that stands out, that gets the editor’s or producer’s attention.
2. Know your subject thoroughly.
Don’t fake it. You can’t. They will catch you.
3. Know the media you contact. Read the paper, watch the newscast.
Nothing a magazine editor or TV producer hates worse than being pitched an idea that would never work for them. That tells them you don’t know their magazine or show. How, then, can you give them a story that would interest their audience? You can’t.
4. Cover your bases.
Give them all the information they need to do a story.
5. Don’t just take “yes” for an answer. Follow up, follow through.
Continue to follow up with any editor or producer that’s interested in your book or author. Many articles or show ideas that seemed to be a “go” later get lost because of changing needs or other circumstances. The only way to ensure that your idea isn’t the one to get tossed is to keep in touch with the editors and producers.
6. Never feel satisfied.
7. Always maintain your composure.
Never get angry at any media person. Always say thank you afterwords. Be kind to them. They are people, too.
8. Think several moves ahead.
If they like your idea, what will they need next? Have it ready when they ask — or offer it to them right away.
9. Be persistent, but move on when you’re convinced you’re getting nowhere.
Persistence pays off. Don’t give up. Keep pitching new ideas, new books, new authors, new shows. Remember that they need you more than you need them. My evidence? Read any magazine, watch any show – How many poor articles or boring items do you see? Why did they make it in? Only one reason: Because someone with a better idea (that’s you!) didn’t persist long enough to get your story across.
10. Remember, this isn’t brain surgery. Don’t take yourself too seriously (like too many publicists I know). Have fun!