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Media Preference Compared To What Works Best

Newspaper journalists not covering a real local beat tend to look to the newswires for hard news, not for book information and feature stories. And the number one news wire is the Associated Press, followed by Knight-Ridder, Times-Tribune, and a host of others. There are over 400 news services and syndicates in the US.

I have conducted media questionnaires for several years in a row, asking the media "what method do you prefer" and perhaps have as good a handle on this as anyone, as I operate the Imediafax - Internet to Media Fax Service.

What the media wants and prefers is very important to me and my clients. Success speaks loudly in this business, but failure speaks even louder. I don't like failure, and my business survival depends on my clients success, so I track this very carefully.

The data I've compiled looks like this:

Percent 3/99 1/02

Street Mail 55.1 42.5
Fax 25.6 27.3
E-Mail 15.4 25.7
Web Site 3.8 4.4

You can see that e-mail has come of age in less than two years time. Street mail has diminished somewhat, and web based communications are rising but still don't compare well to the other methods.

What is crucial to understand is that while this is interesting, it is not key question of importance to authors and publishers.

The key question is:

"Which method works the best!"

That is, "which method yields the most publicity?"

And guess what - the journalists don't know the answer to this question.

That's because they've never analyzed their response to news releases.

Very few of them have ever even written a news release, and fewer still have truly mastered the art of getting publicity. And yet many of them sit in receipt of hundreds of news releases per day.

Do you want to know who knows the answer to this question? It's right here in front of you.

Authors and publishers can give you insights into the answer to this question. Ask the members of this list what sort of success they have.

There are numerous people here who have experienced transmitting and tracking news release response. There are authors and publishers here who have done this for five, ten, perhaps twenty or more books.

And the ones who are most successful will all tell you the same thing, because they have acquired knowledge enough by analyzing the responses to the hundreds of releases they have transmitted, and have captured real public relations wisdom, based on the consensus of human experience.

And as usual, the answer is:

It depends!

It depends on lots of things.

It will vary with the book you write, and the news you have to offer, what it takes to do a story for the media, and timing.

If the the book is great, the content is on point, timely, and what you've propsoed doesn't cost too much to use for a story, and your pitch was well targeted (e.g., sent to the right media) you will get publicity.

Will it break even or make you rich?

Maybe yes to the former, probably not to the latter.

As a general trend, I see an increasing amount of positive responses from e-mail news releases, and overall right now I think it's about 50 -50 between fax and e-mail. The above data tends to bear that out.

But it varies. Some media are more Internet and e-mail savvy than others. Some are simply swamped with e-mail and faxes. Others refuse to enter the new age of electronic commerce for whatever reason. Media are human beings too. Some days are busy, others less so.

Some books or news angles are more prone to being shared electronically, while with others, you simply can't be persuasive using the technologies.

Sometimes a picture will be persuasive, while text will not.

There is a stable group of key media who insists on seeing the media kits and books, and they basically say that while the fax or e-mail news release may whet their appetite, the electronic methods lack "the personality" and tactile sense that "the real thing" provides. To get these media to bite, it has to be "in vivo".

This tracks with what we see as the purpose and best types of content to place in faxes and e-mail. Which is, you don't write the story, but you pitch the news angle and offer them the story.

Your fax and e-mail are designed to get the media to ask for more information, which you then transmit by whatever means appropriate. You make your "in vivo" presentation to media who have indicated a willingness to look at your ideas. You send a review copy and a media kit and you call to follow up.

So what this means is that any one trying to get publicity must use as many means as they can possibly afford, and plan it out systematically.

Based on what I'm seeing work best for the authors and publishers I work with, what you need to do is this:

Identify YOUR target media.

(BTW, I've used Bacons since 1978, like many of the publicists you've heard on this topic this week. I create custom lists every day for clients of all types and try to send releases to media who can respond favorably. It's expensive and cumbersome to use properly. If you are a one book author/publisher I do not recommend getting it, rather use the services of a bona fide PR services provider who owns it and knows how to stay within the licensing restrictions. And even with it's high cost and nearly half a million publicity contacts, it's still not perfect. It takes real effort to maintain that monster database, and it also takes skill and experience to use it properly. Yes even the almighty Bacon's has it's drawbacks and limitations).

Prepare to design and implement an integrated year long outreach to the right key media executives at maximum budget possible.

Study them. Stand in their shoes! Think about how they get news. Watch what they run with, and give them material that matches what they typically create.

Design a and maintain a PR assault that stimulates as many of their their senses as possible using all available tactics:

1. Street mail

2. Fax

3. E-mail

4. In Person

5. Phone calls

6. Other media/research

7. Referrals

Design a Publicity Plan and implement it faithfully, at least as long as it's profitable to do so.

Monthly via fax & e-mail

Selected street mail call first

Judicious follow-up to three to five or more per day

Any by golly, if you get to meet with them in person, make it memorable.

Bring copies enough of media kits and review copies for a small army, so that you create a buzz that lingers in the office days after you are gone.

And don't forget, there are lots of ways to make a great and long lasting impression, and the best one is to:


Don't ask me why, but it works. These folks are often stressed out office hounds. They are starved for tension release and a great inner office experience.

They feel forever indebted to you for feeding them, especially if it's unique and high quality, or home made. Bring enough to have a small office party, and give out lots of cards, postcards or whatevers.

For some reason, a dozen Crispy Creme donuts is really a good idea these days.
The news streaks across the newsroom faster than lightening, and voila -- you
have an audience of five to ten key editors!

And it's show time!

Try it!

If any of you want a copy of the article I wrote after my presentation to the Book Publicists of Southern California last month, send me an e-mail message and ask for "How to Make the Media Fall in Love with You".

Paul J. Krupin

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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