Debra Shively Welch asks:
I am with a small traditional publishing house and so don't get help with promotion.I have sent press releases out the wazoo but can't seem to get any attention from them. Most disappointing is I can't seem to get my own hometown paper interested. Any suggestions?
I must admit, news releases these days are hit or miss. The news business is shrinking. Newspapers barely have enough room for daily news stories - and enough staff to cover them. Book reviews are out, and unless you can sell yourself as a feature story, you might be out of luck.
Hometown newspapers - especially the small ones - are some of the most difficult to break into. So scratch that and broaden your distribution. Have you tried an eRelease service like BoStick Communications? This service specializes in book press release distribution - including those for religious distribution.
If that doesn't work - or fit your budget - consider adding releases only to your Web site and pursue different marketing venues.
You have excellent marketing campaign potential with your books. You have a Christian theme in all of them, which means that you should target a Christian niche. Give review samples to church book groups. Send copies of Son of My Soul, The Adoption of Christopher to adoption agencies, or ask members of an adoption forum to review it on Amazon or their personal blogs. A Very Special Child fits a children's market, so target your efforts to blogs and Web site for children and families. If these are available for sale through a site like Christianbook.com, ask someone to post a review on it. Search for children's book readers on Amazon, and ask them if they would like a complimentary copy to review.
To save money, you can always e-mail a password-protected PDF to review.
I recently posted a column on writing news releases for hardcopy and electronic submission. Check it out for tips.
~ AngelaHolly Asks: Hi Angela, My daughter and I just started a Web site selling plays I've written for children to perform. The target market is teachers and youthleaders who are looking for activities to do with children.
We're thinking about mailing half-page fliers to 3rd and 5th gradeteachers in a specific city (Minneapolis). The fliers invite folks to the Web site.
1. Is direct mail marketing still considered an effective use of marketing dollars?
2. If it is considered effective, what are some tips for driving traffic to our site?
3. Are certain direct mail pitches more effective than others? Forexample: post card vs. stuffed envelope, or hand delivered vs. bulkmail.
Thanks so much for your help. We're feeling stumped on this!
Direct marketing is still effective - in the right form. For example, political advertisement people receive in the mail many times end up in File 13. That's because politicians use a blanket system that calls up all addresses in their district. They don't break down those addresses by party or other demographics, which makes the mailers a complete waste of marketing dollars, paper, ink and time.
You do not want that to happen to you.
If you really target your niche market, you can spend very little and make a great impact. Your product is for children. You are marketing to people who teach or care for children. You could easily send fun, colorful postcards announcing your site to them. You could mail them or drop them off at district and church offices. Postcards - especially those oversized - are less likely to get lost in transit. Whatever route you choose, be certain the Web site and your contact information is prominent. Be sure the item is designed in such a way that people want to save it, post it on their refrigerators, workplace bulletin boards or other public areas.
That said, this could be costly prospect - especially if you are just starting out. I would encourage you to contact as many schools directly - perhaps work through the district PR offices to distribute the information, which will save postage fees. Join online forums with PTA members and teachers to promote the plays. Contact church district offices or community centers with the information. If you have a Boys and Girls Club, contact the district office and see if they would also be interested.
Use the Web as much as you can. Perhaps choose a group of 10 to 15 people to be part of a group that writes reviews about your site at their blogs or social networks. Ask them to pass the site on to others. Generate buzz from within the community because word of mouth is gold. You have a fun video on your Web site. Be sure to post that at YouTubeand start inviting Minneapolis users to subscribe to your YouTube feed.
You could also choose your top 10 venues and send a sample play along with http://angelawilson.typepad.com/ask_angela/create-an-effective-media-kit-by-angela-wilson.html .
I would also encourage you to consider donating a play for free to various organization to generate buzz. Nonprofits that helps kids after school would greatly appreciate it. Ask them if it would be OK to take video of performances, which you can edit and post to your Web site and YouTube. (Be sure to get signed release forms, so you can legally use the child's image.)
If you decide to go the direct marketing route, wait until after the election craziness settles down, otherwise your postcards or fliers could end up in the trash with political ads.
~ AngelaAngela Wilson
Find Angela Wilson at:http://www.linkedin.com/in/angelawilson
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