What is PR and why do I need it?
Public relations creates awareness of yourself and your work–whether it’s a brand, a product or service, a creative project (such as a book, album, or film), or a nonprofit or business–through earned media coverage and other forms of promotion. Publicity is often part of a larger marketing campaign. Publicists help to manage media outreach and communications, securing impressions through coverage and garnering awareness with the goal of increasing positive reach and exposure.
What’s the difference between publicity and advertising?
Traditional advertising is expensive, and it can be difficult to know whether you’re reaching your target audience. Publicity doesn’t necessarily take the place of advertising, but it raises and extends your profile so that you’re being seen and heard by people who are most likely to resonate with your message or product. The best publicity strategies don’t involve buying media time or space, which is why publicity is known as “earned media” whereas advertising is “paid media.”
People trust credible sources. And publicity will get you press through those sources because of the relationships built over time between a publicist and media decision-makers. You can pay for advertising anywhere, anytime, but getting strategic story placements in media can have a much bigger impact than a full-page ad, because these placements were earned instead of bought.
How far in advance should I hire a publicist before my launch or event date?
In order to build the greatest momentum and buzz for your product or entity, you should begin PR efforts at least 6 months ahead of the launch or event date. Long-lead media (for example, print magazines and major podcasts) often schedule their features and interviewees up to a year before their broadcast or print date. Therefore, it’s critical that your information be shared with media contacts well in advance of your launch or release date.
What does it mean to be a boutique PR firm?
Simply put, we only take on a select number of projects at a time in order to devote 100% to each client. Before we sign someone to our roster, our team evaluates each project along several criteria to ensure a great fit and media interest. It allows us to build a customized PR campaign that serves the needs and preferences of each individual or organization we represent. We’re also able to be responsive to what’s happening in the media and to pivot quickly as opportunities arise.
What do you specialize in?
We specialize in working with clients to earn media in the mainstream and in the faith-based space, including people of faith who are seeking mainstream press. PR firms that understand both the Christian faith media and secular media landscapes are rare, since both of these “territories” are incredibly nuanced. But we pride ourselves in a continuing track record of success for our clients in both verticals. We’ve repped New York Times bestselling authors, Oscar-winning films, NFL Hall of Famers, NBA Championship players, Grammy and Dove Award-winning music artists, and top 10 Netflix shows as well as ministry founders and business leaders.
Do you work on nonfiction and fiction books?
We specialize in nonfiction books and no longer accept clients promoting fiction titles.
Do you handle social media for your clients?
In order to maximize your exposure with media and audiences, we can advise on social media strategy that works in sync with our publicity efforts. However, we do not develop or post content for our clients. We have a list of preferred partners we can refer you to for your social media needs.
How does billing work? Do I pay you for each media hit?
Our clients pay a retainer fee each month in order for our firm to be their agency of record during their campaign.
Can you guarantee media coverage?
While our firm has a long track record of securing high-profile media hits for our clients, including national morning shows and major podcasts, publicity inherently cannot be guaranteed since it is earned media rather than paid media. We’ve seen great success in many cases thanks to the media relationships we’ve cultivated for more than a decade. But there are always factors that the outlets are weighing that are beyond our control. Be wary of any PR firm that guarantees coverage, as their promises are likely pay-for-play opportunities and not earned-media coverage.
Does a publicity campaign guarantee sales of my product?
Simply put, public relations is the art of gaining visibility and credibility for your brand or business. It’s about getting your product/brand in front of the right audience, and the “right” audience is the one that best aligns with your product or service and will likely be interested enough to buy; however, that’s not guaranteed and in terms of a sales funnel, PR efforts would be at the top of the funnel. If no one knows you exist, then how could they possibly buy anything from you?
When it comes to “making sales,” you have to consider the myriad of factors that are either working for, or against you, rather than banking on visibility alone to be the deciding factor. That said, public relations professionals wear many hats, but one that they do not wear, is that of a sales associate.
Are sales likely to increase with PR efforts? Yes! The more people who know about you and your product, the more likely you are to secure sales. As public relations professionals, we can lead a horse to water, but we cannot guarantee that the horse will actually drink.
This is why it’s so important for you and your team to properly maintain your marketing and/or sales funnel.
If I have an internal publicist at my publisher/label, should I still hire an outside publicist?
Yes, that’s almost always advisable. Internal publicists are generally bogged down with a roster of authors/artists to publicize. Our team can speak to this, as many of us were previously in-house at a publisher or label or both. The internal team simply cannot be in all places at once, and with limited time and resources, they can rarely devote the kind of personalized focus to your specific project that an outside publicity firm can.
How do I get on the New York Times bestsellers list?
Though there are other prominent lists and rankings that also increase an author’s credibility, this is the bestseller list we are most often asked about. The New York Times notes that their list is only reflective of books that are selling at a certain number of bookstores and online retailers around the country. With the exception of a few fiction genres like romance and horror, The New York Times won’t recognize any book that doesn’t come from a traditional publishing house. This is why the self-published or hybrid published books that sell hundreds of thousands of copies don’t appear on the list. Without at least 10,000 pre-ordered books through sales channels that The New York Times considers valid, you likely won’t make the list. “Valid” to them means ordered or bought at a bookstore that reports its sales to the New York Times, or through Amazon or iBooks or other major channels that the Times has vetted. The copies you order from your publisher don’t count.
Realistically, the more mainstream media press you get, the greater your chance of making The New York Times list. But this should never be guaranteed by any PR firm, and so we don’t promise it. What we can promise is that we will leverage our expertise and strong media connections with the intent to help our clients realize increased sales and exposure to strategic outlets and targeted audiences.
Will I get to read the interviews I’ve done with print outlets in advance?
Editorial standards and journalistic ethics prevent print outlets from allowing interviewees to read an earned-media piece before it is published. However, our media contacts frequently consult with us and reference our press materials (which you DO get to read and tweak in advance) to help them formulate their content. For more information on this topic, please see THIS article from Professor Thomas Kent of Columbia University.
What’s the difference between a publicity firm and a speaker’s bureau?
While both kinds of companies work with talented communicators, they each play very different roles. A speaker’s bureau facilitates the placement of speakers for live engagements and works as the middleman between event coordinators and its clients. A publicity firm, on the other hand, oversees the reputation of its clients, working to create positive awareness for individual or organizational brands, products, or services through the media.
What’s the difference between hybrid and traditional publishing, and do you work with authors from each?
Traditional publishing can include publishers of any size that take on the full financial burden of bringing a book to market. They have an established team that works with an author from the editing stage through distribution. This kind of agreement usually includes both an advance as well as royalties.
Hybrid publishing combines traditional publishing and self-publishing, allowing the risks to be shared more equally between publisher and author. The parameters of this type of agreement are typically dictated by a package the author has selected. The advances in this situation are typically very low, but the royalties tend to be higher.
Do you share media contact information?
We do not. These relationships have been cultivated over years and years, and they are at the heart of the work we do. So much so that we consider media email addresses and phone numbers our version of “proprietary” information. To maintain the trust of our media contacts and be known by them as a company that operates with professionalism and integrity, we do not share their information for any reason with any of our clients.
What are two|pr’s office hours?
Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM-5:00 PM Central Standard Time. We are closed for all federal holidays, and we take two weeks off from December 15 through January 3 each year.