When my new book One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born to Do hit the street, the team at PR by the Book launched their public relations and 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. 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 and 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:
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.
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.
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.
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 philcooke.com, 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 is guest-writing this week’s After the Manuscript column. He’s a client of Marika Flatt, founder of PR By the Book, who normally contributes to this column. We’re thankful and appreciative to have Phil as a guest writer. That’s the the great article, Phil!
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 philcooke.com.