Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Inside Scoop: Have You Lost that Loving Feeling?

More wisdom from publicist extraordinaire Darcie Rowan, McAllister Rowan Communications Group:

As I wrote in the previous post, the relationship between a publicist and author is a lot like a marriage. You meet, you date, you fall in love, marry, and live happily ever after – or not! Sometimes the happy marriage with your publicist starts to go downhill. Bickering ensues, then loss of confidence, and ultimately the traumatic divorce. But remember, there are ALWAYS signs that the relationship either wasn’t meant to be, or is in great need of counseling. With more apologies to David Letterman...

Top 10 Signs that the Honeymoon Might be Over--and What You Can Do About It

10) If the “baby doll” you’ve hired takes more than an hour to return a call or respond to email during normal working hours (it can happen occasionally, but should never be the norm), chances are she's desperately seeking out the freelancer to whom she outsourced a portion of your publicity campaigno. Remember: You hired that publicist – not her cheaper freelancer!

9) If after the first three months, your campaign isn’t getting the results and attention you were led to expect. Talk about this! If your publicist doesn’t want to entertain your concerns or hear your side, there may be trouble brewing in paradise.

8) If your publicist won’t talk to you about pitching ideas or campaign directions, you have a problem. Your “soul mate” should want to talk with you and SHARE ideas.

7) If your “sweetie” starts writing press materials and sending them to media without first showing them to you. This is a HUGE problem, especially if they're filled with typos and misspellings. You should be given enough time to add your comments and corrections.

6) Be wary if your “little darling” writes a press release containing incorrect information – or it appears that she didn’t read your book. No publicist should be pitching a book that they can’t discuss with the media.

5) If the press alerts or press release your “hunny” submits for your approval either starts off talking about the book rather than the issue(s) it addresses, does not contain at least 3-5 bullet points that frame story ideas and/or broadcast segments, is less than a page, or goes on for several pages, these are all signs that your publicist is a little green when it comes to pitching to the media. Talk her about what’s the most important aspect of your book [which means you'd better know it too!--Bella].

4) If your “snookums” provides updates without specific names of media people or specific outlets. Ask for that info; it’s not top-secret. You should know who has been sent your book. If the list includes “The Sally Jesse Raphael Show” or “Montel Williams,” watch out! Your publicist is either working off an ancient list, or isn’t really working on your book at all.

3) Your publicist is really the INTERN or has less than one year of experience. If this turns out to be the case, call the president of the company and complain. You are not paying high prices to work with the intern. When you start the "marriage,” you should find out who will be working on your book and how much experience they have in the business.

2) For whatever reason, you and your publicist don’t see eye to eye, don’t have similar goals, have “lost that loving feeling,” or you’re having more arguments with them than you do with your real spouse. It may be time to have a fresh set of eyes look over the project and see what could be done differently. We aren’t condoning cheating, but it wouldn’t hurt to see what the competition thinks of your successes and failures.

And the #1 sign that your publicist may not be “The One”:

She told you that you would “absolutely, definitely be on Oprah” [silly you for hiring her anyway!--Bella] but doesn’t have a strategic plan to make that happen. Help create one! No use in sitting around waiting for something to happen if your “loved one” doesn’t have a plan, a goal or a CLUE. And remember, when it comes to publicity, NOTHING can be guaranteed.


submit to slunch said...

bella - I just stumbled upon this gem. I obviously haven't been checking your site often enough. would you mind if I linked with some slunchie commentary? it's hilarious!!

Anonymous said...

Oy vey. Whoever wrote this seems to think that there are just hundreds upon hundreds of producers/editors/journalists out there just DYING to cover books -- and yours would be the first one they'd pouce on if only your "sweetie" publicist would get off his/her sorry ass and write a AMAZING press kit. Because producers LOVE to read press kits. They pack 'em up and bring them to the beach for "fun" reading! Yes! Those tales of "instant recycling" are lies, evil lies...

Anonymous said...

One thing to keep in mind, is that some publicists don't share their media contacts. Publicists are in the business of media relations, and the relationships they've built with the media are extremely important. Clip books, prior campaigns, and references are all a strong indication of how strong a publicist's media contacts are. You can definitely expect to be told where they are pitching, and what what types of reporters (lifestyle, career, arts & entertainment), but specific names may be a different story. I think big media like New York Times reporters are a very different story, but specific producers at TV/Radio shows or freelancers aren't common knowledge. There's also a difference between what you can expect from a publicist you've hired (more likely to give you specifics), and an in-house publicist.