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Putting the “Current” in “Current Events”: Tips on Pitching Politics and Religion

POSTED BY prbythebook ON June 17, 2014

by Jason Jones, Senior Publicist, @Book_Publicist

College-Male-Reading-NewspaperThe key to producing media bookings for books on current events is, well … being current.

It’s not as simple as that, of course, but I will go so far as to say that if you’re not plugged into social media — where news breaks — you’ve already lost.  News organizations and personalities finally figured out a few years ago (I remember many of them laughing Twitter off, face to face with me in meetings in NY, as late as 2010) that they’re no longer going to break news on the television.  They’re going to break it online and they’re going to build readership and viewership and value there (which works hand in hand with the traditional, terrestrial broadcast end of their business, but that’s another conversation).  Point being, they first find developing stories and oftentimes sources, there.

And you’ve got to be there when it happens.

Not only to know about a potential opportunity for an author/expert (they’re experts, first and foremost, in the eyes of the media, remember … they only care about the credibility of the expert you’re providing them to speak on the subject, not about selling a book, though a book does provide proof that they’re an authority on the topic), but to be at the front of the line in firing off communications offering your author/expert’s services.

That said, you also have to have what producers and editors need, ready to go, at a moment’s notice.

You have to anticipate events and opportunities and have your author/expert’s credentials, contact information, video clips, author images, availability, etc. ready.  No time to pull those things together when news breaks, just as there’s no time to put together a survival kit when a tornado is bearing down on your home.  And, if you don’t have it ready and in a producer’s inbox as the story is developing, someone else will.  So, anticipate the prime opportunities, know why your author is a relevant and authoritative voice for your target’s audience and what their message will be.  And, again … have it ready to go before it needs to be ready to go.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is relationship.

These are 90% of the job, in my estimation, in nearly any profession — at least, if you’re going to be great.  If you’ve got great ones, you can do nearly anything.  If you don’t have any, it’s tough to accomplish much.  Producers and editors receive hundreds of e-mails a day and don’t open them all.  There’s just no time.  So, even if you have a qualified expert and you’re near the front of the line, there’s still no guarantee your correspondence will be read, as you’re a stranger — not a trusted resource or friend of the folks producing the news and cultivating the conversation for the masses.  Being a friendly, reliable, trusted resource (i.e. someone that they can count on when the chips are down, that makes their jobs EASIER, that makes THEM a hero and that, honestly, fair or not, they enjoy working with) will get your e-mail opened more often, if not first.  And, more often than not, it will score an appearance for your author/expert.

Regarding relationship, there’s one last important point to remember  and I think it’s an obvious one. You can’t always be in ‘sales’ mode.  And, you can’t pitch and expect a contact to produce something that wouldn’t interest their audience just because you have a relationship with them and a book to sell.  Attempting to ‘overleverage’ your relational equity undermines your credibility and your relationship.  Send them appropriate resources, when they need them (and sometimes, before they even realize they do!) and be friendly, authentic and available.  Again – it’s about relationship.  No one likes to talk to a robot, be ‘sold’ 24/7 or treated as a means to an end.  Treat them like people and they’re most oftentimes return the favor.  As I mentioned earlier, fair or not (and assuming you’re reliable), people enjoy working with people they know and enjoy personally.  It goes a long, long way to nailing down results.

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