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Getting Pre-Empted on the “TODAY Show”…and Other Frustrations of Publicity

POSTED BY marika ON August 6, 2012

Guest post by Phil Cooke


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When my new book One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born to Do (Thomas Nelson, July 2012) hit the street, the team at PR by the Book launched their publicity strategy. We immediately had an excerpt published on the Fast Company website, and our reviews have been extraordinary. Stephanie Ridge was able to land two fantastic platforms in New York: “The Cycle,” a new national MSNBC show focusing on politics, current affairs, and social issues, and the “TODAY Show” (NBC). I was thrilled at the possibilities, so my wife Kathleen and I eagerly flew to New York.

“The Cycle” was terrific. The show was live, it featured great questions. The “TODAY Show” was equally fun, as I was interviewed by Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb. We actually pre-taped the show on Thursday to be broadcast on Friday.

So the next morning, Kathleen and I sat in our hotel room to watch the interview unfold. We turned on the television, only to hear about the terrible shooting at the Batman movie premier in Colorado.

At first I assumed it was a news update, and they’ll quickly return to the program. But as the tragic dimensions of the story unfolded, NBC decided to pre-empt the “TODAY Show” completely. We called friends who confirmed it on the East Coast, then the Midwest.

But we saw a ray of hope as the “TODAY Show” played normally on the West Coast, and at least a third of the country might see the interview. As the interview started, Kathie Lee and Hoda described the book, introduced me, asked me the first question, and just as I was opening my mouth, the network cut away to “AN NBC NEWS UPDATE.”

I was obliterated, even on the West Coast.

I was devastated. How often do you get a national media opportunity like that? In this case, it’s hard to complain, considering the enormity of what those Colorado families went through, but the truth is, publicity doesn’t always work out. For those frustrating moments as you’re pitching your books – particularly in the media – here’s a few thoughts to remember:

  1. It’s just as important to develop relationships with the media staff as it is to do the actual interview.  I had a great introduction to the producers of “TODAY and “The Cycle,” so now we have a personal relationship. Should something open in the future, the chances are very high I’ll be asked back on those programs.
  2. Be gracious, no matter what happens. I did a FOX News program once on a controversial issue and didn’t realize they were pitting me against a vitriolic and down right nasty opponent. By using old fashioned smarts instead of bullying, I not only won the debate, but impressed the program hosts, who gave me more time. When it comes to television interviews, being liked is just as important as being right.
  3. Come prepared. For my book One Big Thing, I’ve created a “cheat sheet” of notes from the book. Sure I wrote it, but in the heat of the moment, I can’t remember everything in the book. A cheat sheet of key points can be a lifesaver if you draw a blank during an interview.
  4. Finally, remember that you drive publicity. The great team at PR by the Book has set me up with some remarkable opportunities, but they need my help as well. My Twitter and Facebook community, my blog at, my professional networks, all contribute to the end result of selling books. The more you can activate your personal arsenal of relationships, the more your publicists can use that to tell your story.

Now get out there and sell a few books….


Phil Cooke is a filmmaker, media consultant, and author of One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born to Do (Thomas Nelson). Find out more at

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TODAY Gets Results: Exploring Sales After Major Media Hits

POSTED BY prbythebook ON July 12, 2012
TODAY Gets Results: Exploring Sales After Major Media Hits

If we haven’t posted enough on our excitement for Michael Wigge’s national appearances, this might do it. Of course, the most exciting part of moments like this, as it would be for anyone, is getting to see Wigge sitting next to celebrities we’ve only dreamed of meeting and exclaiming to whoever is in the room […]

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Two PR by the Book stars on national TV this week: Creek Stewart on Fox & Friends, Michael Wigge on The Tonight Show!

POSTED BY doug ON June 22, 2012

What a banner week for PR by the Book authors!  We had two on national television this week: First, our professional survivalist Creek Stewart (Build the Perfect Bug-Out Bag) on Fox & Friends for Father’s Day: Watch the latest video at And then, Michael Wigge (How to Travel the World for Free) on The […]


The 16th Annual Texas Book Festival is no stranger to crowd-pleasing authors and this year’s lineup does not disappoint.

POSTED BY prbythebook ON October 5, 2011
The 16th Annual Texas Book Festival is no stranger to crowd-pleasing authors and this year’s lineup does not disappoint.

By Emily Southard-Bond Do you like__? a.) Books, b.) Celebrities c.) Libations d.) Chuck Palahniuk Read on, if you answered YES to any of the above! The Texas Book Festival is pulling out the big guns with a bevy of bestsellers, celebrity authors, favorable newcomers and the very first Texas Book Festival Lit Crawl. The […]

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Websightings: Janice Van Dyck on!

POSTED BY doug ON November 18, 2010
Websightings: Janice Van Dyck on!

Check it out! Our author, Janice Van Dyck (Finding Frances) has a contributed article up on ((and specifically, their Women’s Issues section), one of the most highly-trafficked sites on the web. Much of Janice’s writing centers on life transitions, and here, she talks about four different types of “beginnings” we’re asked to make. Here’s […]

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