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Thursday, June 20, 2013

PUBLICISTS, PART THREE: WHAT 'EXACTLY' CAN A PUBLICIST DO FOR ME, AND HOW MUCH WILL IT COST? Guest Post by Rachel Sentes


THE FOLLOWING IS PART THREE of Rachel Sentes's guest posts on publicity and promotion regarding what a publicist can do for all of us writers out there. The post that follows is the most extensive yet. Rachel has very kindly shared specific information about what she does for her clients, as well as provide us with privileged information: what she charges and what her fees are. Take it away, Rachel!

THERE ARE ALL KINDS OF PUBLICISTS that offer a variety of services, but ultimately they all want the same result: booking interviews for their client.  We are the ‘behind the scenes’ people that fill the spaces in newspapers, magazines, online blogs, television shows and news stories, book review sites and radio shows. No one in the public eye is there by accident. From start to finish, it can take hours to secure a five minute interview. I can’t speak for everyone, so I’ll speak for myself and my team about what we do on a daily basis. We:
·            Read through all the top national and international newspapers and sections (lifestyle, entertainment, books, business, sports, etc.) to find tie-ins pertaining to our client’s work 
·            Go through twitter feeds/Facebook sites and look for additional news and websites that can be opportunities for bookings. We connect with media people, writers and publishers online who may know of opportunities.
·            Read reporter/producer requests from HARO (Help a Reporter Out), Pitch Rate, Pitching Notes, Media Bistro.com, Publishers Lunch, Deadline Hollywood, Quill & Quire, Broadcaster magazine, and other resources for direct pitches
·           Research media contacts for specific industries and compile and add to media lists. We enter data into mail-out systems for press releases
·            Go through e-mails, prioritize to-do lists for immediate and ongoing media bookings
·            Answer e-mails from new prospects and set up phone meetings
·            Delegate research and pitching tasks to subcontractors
·            Write content and design media kits for clients
·            Troubleshoot on author websites and in social media, post new book signings and events online
·            Research and write articles/news releases/psa’s/one-on-one pitches/speaker’s kits/media kits/media invitations and review requests
·            Pitch all written material to media contacts via email. We call or tweet other media contacts
·            Contact publishers for pitches for new books and updates on the status of proposals
·            Draft book proposals, query letters, and outlines with sample chapters for our clients
·            Accompany clients to interviews at news studios
·            Provide media coaching for those who are inexperienced before the camera
·            Write television show proposals which we pitch to development companies
·            Write and edit news releases which are sent to our clients for approval, make the suggested changes, then upload on distribution sites for release
·            Follow up on good leads for news releases. Phone and email to secure bookings.
·            Ghostwrite blogs and upload them online
·            Provide book signing and promotional advice to clients, send ‘What to Wear on Television’ tip sheets
·            Set up blog tours for new books and promote them online
·            Troubleshoot booking issues, reschedule on behalf of the media or the client and find new dates
·            Find and research placement for an op-ed that clients write (This is a great way to add to a campaign.)
·            Make judgment calls about having clients on the air. If the media is nervous about an untried guest, it’s my job to either get the client ready, or have them trained so they might be rebooked on the show. This is a part of the ‘behind the scenes’ work that a lot of people don't know about. I’ve had to turn down key spots for clients because they simply weren’t ready to be on a big show. This ensures that the client's and our business reputation stays intact.
·            Answer and troubleshoot Amazon marketing issues, follow-up on outstanding reviews
·            Read and assess manuscripts/books/client proposals for possible publicity angles
And there you have it. Publicity isn’t just about making calls and booking media. It’s a whole lot more. When someone asks me about their ‘Return on Investment’ and what I’ve been doing all day, I show them this list. Keep in mind that the two minute clip you see of a puppy at the end of a television show might have taken two weeks to set up.
In the business of writing you need to budget for everything. Even if you plan on doing your own publicity, you still have to budget your time in order to implement those plans.  
Before hiring a publicist, be sure you know exactly what you want. If all you need is someone to help you refine your pitch so you can approach the media—say that. If you want your publicist to do all the worktell them that as well. Every publicist should have a package that will fit your needs, but you need to determine what those are, first.
A publicity business with a broader set of goals has a bigger reach, so while gal-friday publicity specializes in books, we also work with businesses like alpaca farms, sleep consultants, actors, and sports people. If you choose a publicity firm that only caters to one aspect of your industry, you could limit your opportunities.
Fees: Every firm and freelancer has their own fee schedule. Some charge for consultations and some don’t. Consultations can range from free to $150.00 for a half hour or hour session. Research/Google the team names on the company website to see how active they are online. Do you see news releases? Articles? Check and see what comes up. People who give free consultations can be just as good as those who charge. Also, check to see if they charge a reading fee for going through your manuscript. I offer a free assessment because I want to be 100% sure it’s something that’s a good fit for me and my team, but not everyone works this way. Be sure to ask if they have a fee.
When it comes to rates for publicity, some publicists will have levels for monthly retainers or publicity packages, but all will require a deposit of some kind. Per placement publicity firms collect a fee only if they get a placement. This may sound like a great way to go, but if they are doing that, you can be sure that there is absolutely NO strategy involved in their campaign. There is no consistency to who or where they pitch, and they will limit their time on your campaign if they don’t get any bites. It’s a start and stop method, which isn’t what publicity is about.
Most publicists recommend a minimum time commitment. I recommend three months as a minimum investment. I can usually get publicity and a feel for what the industry is looking for in that amount of time. Many of my clients are long-standing, because they keep writing and producing new books and products. Many clients commit to six to twelve months. Look for contracts that you can negotiate if you aren’t sure what you have available for a budget. Be sure you can afford it.
I generally don’t post my fee structure online because I want prospects to talk to me directly, but I would like to educate people on the variety, so my hourly rate starts at $95.00/hour. Wow! I know that sounds like a lot, but it isn’t, really. That money is divided to cover my freelance sub-contractors who work on all of our projects, and it covers overhead expenses, database maintenance and distribution lists. When all is said and done I’m actually only giving myself a salary of $22.00/hour.
You will find that most PR companies charge between $65.00- $150.00/hour. Big time PR agencies will charge higher for large companies (Fortune 500 publicity companies charge between $3,000- 10,000/month)
At the time of this writing I offer several retainer packages. Each one is customized to meet the goals the client requests. Package A is five hours for $495.00: this can include writing and researching news releases, distribution, follow ups for media bookings, targeted media lists with pitches, tweet and phone campaigns, real tie publicity, tie- ins for headlines, and author platform development with publicity on local and national levels. Our retainer packages go up from there in five hour increments, up to 35 hours a month ( large businesses use that level) but I am open to negotiate for smaller projects like news release distribution and/or publishing consultations  (by the hour).
If you are seriously thinking about hiring a publicist there are a couple of things you should be wary of:
Don’t ask for the moon. Be realistic. We’ll ask you for a wish list but that doesn’t mean we can get everything you want. If you published with Createspace or on your own, chances are you won’t be on the cover of Time anytime soon. If a publicist promises you that, be wary. As for me, I have booking contacts with large U.S shows. (I can pitch to Ellen, but that doesn’t mean she’ll choose your story).
In this industry you need to have the flexibility to be available for interviews. Publicity isn’t easy to get.  Are you able to drop everything to talk to a major outlet? Not everyone can. If you say you’re available, you need to mean it. Reputations are on the line. Rescheduling and canceling interviews cost time and money is better spent elsewhere. Don’t hire a publicist if you aren’t available!
Research is key to finding the right publicist for your project. You’ve invested time and effort in your book. Make sure you’re getting the best marketing/advertising/publicity strategy in place. And finally, remember, when you hire a publicist you can spend more time doing what you do best—writing that next book. Leave her to worry about bookings. 
(Thanks, Rachel, for a very informative and interesting post! And if those of you out there are interested in getting a tailor-made quote from Rachel regarding her services and learning what she can specifically do for you, contact her at gal-friday publicity.) 

Rachel's Bio: Rachel Sentes is a professional writer and full-time publicist/CEO of gal-friday publicity, based in Vancouver, B.C. Her clients include actors, sports figures, publishers, authors, top tier businesses and dog rescue associations. She specializes in building publicity platforms and garnering media bookings for authors,helping them negotiate their way through the ever-changing maze of the publishing world. Rachel has booked clients on CNN, CTV National, BNN, The Seattle Times, Global, Shaw, City TV, The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, NewsTalk 1010, TSN, Bloomberg Radio and The Vancouver Sun, to name a few. 
Next Post: Guest Interview with Adria Laycraft and Janice Blaine, co-editors or The Urban Green Man anthology.
Stay tuned!

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