When To Use A PR Pro & How To Hire One

Pari Noskin Taichert

Ah, the
wonders of self-promotion. Web-logs and websites, books and articles – all try
to give the keys to getting attention in this over-mediaized (well, it should be a word) marketplace.

I think
just about every author who has to be aware of PR – and that’s most of us –
fantasizes about hiring someone to take up the slack – or to put him or her on
the NYT Bestselling list.

IMHO
everyone can be effective PR pros without hiring others to do the work for
them. That said, there are times and reasons to hire outsiders:

A. You’ve got
the personality of an eggplant.

B. You’ve
got a family emergency.

C. You’re
working under a harsh deadline for book #19.

D. You
absolutely hate “bragging” about your work (Oh, come on! I despise this excuse
because it’s such a cop-out. There’s a difference between telling people about your work and hyperbole.)

E. You’re
already overwhelmed and can’t devote energy to create strong public relations
plans or campaigns.

F. You
don’t know what the hell you’re doing and don’t want to learn.

In these
cases, investing in a credible PR pro might help.

Ask
yourself these questions when interviewing a consultant.

1. Does this person listen to me and really answer my questions? You need someone who understands
your needs and won’t produce generic work for you.

2. Will I feel comfortable disclosing confidential information to her? If the vibe isn’t right, go no
further. In times of crisis, media frenzy and strategic planning – you need to
be able to (and should expect to) bare your soul to this trusted colleague.

3. Do I like this person? If you don’t have an automatic positive response, I’d bid
the applicant adieu. There are other PR pros out there.

4. Does she have a true big-picture approach? Avoid people who only talk about
getting publicity. Reminder: publicity is free news coverage. Your PR campaign
should be multi-faceted and mindful of short-and long-term goals.

5. Can he communicate and write effectively? Ask for samples and assess them
critically. A biggie is making sure the writing is clear and compelling, not
florid and self-impressed. You also might want to look at different kinds of
writing: press release, web writing, article writing.

6. Does she have a creative spark? I’ve met PR folks who bore me to death. Their work
tends to have the same flaw.

7. Does he have useful media/business contacts for me? My theory is that strong local and
regional contacts pay off better in the long run than national ones – unless,
of course, we’re talking about real hits such as a multi-minute interview on a
major television or radio show, or a feature article in an appropriate
magazine/newspaper.

8. Can she do the job? Get real references from authors you respect. If the
candidate doesn’t have a track record, make sure her writing, verbal
communication and creative skills are top-notch.

9. Is he the person I’ll work with or will I be shunted to someone else in
the agency?
If
you’re considering an agency, look at this possibility seriously. Some agencies
have you interview with a high-powered performer and then hand your account to
a less experienced (maybe better)
worker for the nitty gritty stuff.

10. Does she have a good sense of humor? Okay, okay,
this is one of my quirks. But humor, especially in times of immense pressure or
stress, is an important asset.

Okay, that’s enough of a
lesson for today.

I have a favor to ask of
you: Do these kinds of tips help you? If so, I’ve written a slew of basic
marketing and public relations articles that I’d be glad to share on this blog.

Just let me know.

Thanks a bunch. I’ll see
you next week.

10 thoughts on “When To Use A PR Pro & How To Hire One

  1. Louise Ure

    Great advice here, Pari. I just want to know how you had the energy after the LAT FOB to get this post together. You have enough energy for three PR specialists and four authors!

    Louise

    Reply
  2. Pari

    Whew,

    I just got back to town from the L.A.Times Fetival of Books and am exhausted. Got to see wonderful Naomi and Louise U. and to meet Brett.

    What a delight.

    I’m glad this piece has useful information. After “grinning & skinning” all weekend, I’m thinking maybe I need a PR pro.

    xxooP

    Reply
  3. Judy Clemens

    You ARE the pro, Pari! You do such a fabulous job of marketing your books and making people (readers and other authors alike) feel welcome and befriended. You’re a role model the rest of us authors should follow.

    And congrats again on your Agatha nomination!!!

    Hugs,Judy

    Reply
  4. Elaine

    Just glad you three dynamos (Pari, Naomi & Louise) got home in one piece! I’m breathless just hearing about it. And Louise did the SFO to LAX in one day! Ah, to be young again and so full of vinegar.

    Reply
  5. Naomi

    Aldo:

    When the heck are you going to post your festival photos? (As if you don’t have enough to do, Mr. Principal.) I want to link to them in my Wednesday post.

    Reply
  6. Pari

    Hi all,Hey, Aldo, I tried to post on your blog but had to sign up and didn’t want to. So, I’ll put it here.

    It was great to meet you!

    Judy, thanks for the kind words. I don’t feel like I’m such a pro. Heck, I haven’t even sold my first million yet.

    Sheesh. I’m finally starting to catch up from the trip.

    I’ve got about 90 follow-up emails from Malice that I haven’t even begun to write yet. Argh.

    I guess I’ll get back to editing the new book instead. Or, maybe I’ll clean my office. Or, fold the laundry. . .

    ahhhhhhhh!

    pari

    Reply

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