Press Releases: Top tips and a success story

Promotion is critical to your success as an author and for your book sales, so you always need to be on the look out for ways to promote yourself. You are not being pushy – you are just making sure people who might be interested in your book know about you.

Press releases can be seen as an art form (and some are!), but mostly they are just news pieces sent to the right people at the right time.

The key points are:

  • Identify what you want to say and who your target is. Tailor the release to the audience otherwise it will be rejected immediately. Preferably get the name of the appropriate journalist and know what they write.
  • Keep it short. 500-800 words which is about 1 A4 page
  • Make it a story that features you, not an advert
  • Focus on the outcome. Consider how people will relate to you from it and what you want them to do e.g. go to your website
  • Use a quote from someone, or yourself to make the point stand out
  • Remember to include your contact details and website links.

Employing a PR agency to do this is expensive, but may be worth it for the contacts if you want to make a big impact.

Once you have written your press release, you need to distribute it.

· Send it to the media you identified. Physically in the post with something that makes it stand out if you can e.g. a copy of your book. If you send an email, do not include an attachment. Just put the press release in the body of the email.

· Post the press release on your own website as a blog post and/or in your media room

· Post online as an article at article sites and Docstoc.com

· Post online at Press Release websites. Some are free and others are paid services.

The best information on PR, including how to write different types of press releases and examples of good and bad releases can be found at The Publicity Hound . You can sign up for the free press release tips plus the newsletter which is packed with great information.

Remember that you can do a press release anytime. The launch of your book may not be as newsworthy as an article you write that is timely and interesting. Keep an eye on the news for topics that relate to your book, then issue a press release with comments and facts about that situation.

My Own Press Release Success Story

I sent a press release just before Christmas 2008 to 10 hand picked journallists I thought it might interest. The press release was “Top 10 Career Related New Year’s Resolutions” – which you can see here => Press Release_201208 . Lists and top tips are popular with sites as they offer value for the reader. Note that it is not a sales pitch!

I targetted some newspapers and magazines and also some blog authors related to those sites – a total of 10 people. I sent my book, the physical press release and a cover letter explaining why I thought they might find it interesting.

The results of my press release:

1) An article and large picture in the print version of my local newspaper, The Queensland Times which was very positive and included both my main websites and mentioned my current book “How to Enjoy Your Job” as well as the next one, working title “From Idea to Book”.

2) The same article posted online at The Queensland Times online

3) Another profile piece in the same paper the following weekend (it all helps!)

4) A blogpost at Mindfood which is a womens magazine

5) An email and phone call from Channel 9 “A Current Affair” (a news program in Australia). They saw the article in Queensland Times and thought it was a good story. I did the interview a few days later – Lessons learned and the TV video

6) A month later, an article in MX, a free commuter newspaper reaching 671,000 people daily in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Australia.

What I did well with my press release – and how you can do the same!

I have sent out press releases before and had no response, so here is what I have learnt from this successful  experience.

  • I targetted my audience instead of sending out a mass press release. My packages were addressed to individuals at the media.
  • I stood out by sending a copy of the book and a letter – as opposed to a mass email
  • I sent the press release at a “dead news” time – just before Christmas, so journallists working over the holidays would have something to pick up.
  • I sent a topical news piece that was useful to people. Lists and top 10s are very popular press release formats.
  • I was available to take the opportunities that came up and grabbed them positively. I made sure I was at home for the journallists and opened my schedule for TV.
  • I was prepared with my websites and media kit. The TV journallist asked what other publications I had been in and I could direct her to my media page. I also have giveaways and information for the public and so was able to increase the size of my database with members of the public who saw the exposure.
  • I compounded the media. I have posted the links to the various media on Facebook, here, on my media page, and on other social sites, resulting in more traffic.

Further tips that would have made it even better:

  • Follow up with the other journallists to see why they didn’t respond
  • Had media training for TV so I wasn’t so nervous about going on

So, even if you are a novice, you can still have some success with the media! If you don’t know anything about PR, publicity, promotion or press releases, definitely check out The Publicity Hound .

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Comments

  1. Sigrid Wilson. says

    Hi Joanna,
    Good article & advise.
    I have been on the Midday show & was on Today Tonight 4 times.
    I have just contacted ‘The Collector on the ABC & hope to get help once again from ‘Today Tonight.
    I would also like to get in touch with the DYU, i think it is on channel 9.
    I haven’t prepared for that one yet.
    I am used to publicity as I was a Magicians assistant in my twenties.
    I am starting my Dercums Disease Awareness & Fundraising trip around Australia on my 63rd. birthday.
    I hope to get on all the news channels.
    I am writing to SBS to document my trip.
    I have been in the news for various reasons, thus my Autobiography.
    Right now though, I need to focus on getting my ‘DERCUMS DISEASE
    WHAT IS IT?’ book done & published.
    I am also selling my property & all of my stuff, which incl. many collectable items.
    I have also applied to run a collectable raffle for fundraising my trip.
    I have some unique items as prizes.
    I am one very busy lady but get distracted too much from concentrating on getting this important book out there!
    I will be selling it on my journey.
    All proceeds will go towards my fundraising for research into this painful & debilitating disease.
    Thank you for your encouragement.
    I like your approach & your book.
    Thans a bunch!
    Love
    Sigrid

  2. says

    Hi Joanna,

    Is a PR and media kit the same? I’m wondering if I can just sent out my media kit instead. Also, you mentioned you included a cover letter, a copy of your book and your PR. My book is not published as yet. Would I simply send the cover letter and my media kit (or PR). I’m also not a writer, hence my book is photography related. Does each cover letter have to be tailored to the individual or can it be a general with name changes?

  3. says

    Thanks Joanna! I already have a media kit and I think it’s great! Do I submit a cover letter with my press release? I’m confused about what I would say, as I believe my PR should say it for me.

    • says

      Sorry Alyscia, I am just not an expert in this so I can’t comment. I haven’t done a press release for 4 years! I would check out Publicity Hound or @publicityhound on twitter as she knows the score.

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  1. [...] about press releases, radio and TV pitching. I made it onto TV with “A Current Affair”, national newspapers and radio, but despite all that I didn’t sell any more [...]

  2. [...] about press releases, radio and TV pitching. I made it onto TV with “A Current Affair”, national newspapers and radio, but despite all that I didn’t sell any more [...]

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