By Sherry Ziegelmeyer
The first thing most authors decide to do to generate publicity for their work is to send out a press release. However, there can be some confusion about what a press release really is, so here’s the official definition:
A press release is a prepackaged news tip distributed to the media. It is a complete news story, written by an anonymous “third party”.
Because your press release is a self-written news story, serious journalists will regard the accuracy of its information as suspect. This is especially true of mainstream media. While mainstream editors and show producers may read press releases, they won’t run a press release in its entirety—and most mainstream publications don’t run press releases at all. If an editor or producer decides your story is worth a follow-up, they will use the contact information you included in your e-mailed press release to arrange an interview with you, or a review of your book.
While, for the most part, the adult entertainment press takes the same view of press releases as their mainstream counterparts, it’s definitely worth sending a well-written press release (with supporting graphics) to most adult media outlets. Porn news sites tend to run press releases you submit “as-is”; this means the editor does not re-write much (if anything) of what’s already written in your press release. Many adult news outlets will run it just as you wrote it, on some part of their web site, just to have fresh content for their site’s readers on a daily basis.
Because all journalists understand what a press release truly is—a subtle sales tool masquerading as a news story—consider your press releases less as a media manipulation tool and more as a technical tool that can help increase visitor traffic to your own commercial websites, even if they don’t directly help you sell your books and whatever else you’re offering.
That said, one thing that can be very confusing when you first start doing your own publicity is knowing when it’s appropriate to issue a press release and when it is not.
When to Issue a Press Release
You should consider issuing a press release when the following news takes place:
You have written a new book and you have the official release date.
You sign with a new publishing company.
You have a scheduled appearance—be it a book signing, a seminar/class or an audience participation interview (every time you are interviewed, however, is not newsworthy on a press-release scale to anyone but you, so share your interviews on your own site and social media feeds, but not with press releases).
You have some very special life event occurring, such as a legal action or a serious illness.
You introduce a new author website.
You win an award.
You form, or become involved in working with, a charity or do some noteworthy work for a cause.
You have something notable take place that could be considered controversial or of broad public interest (your book being called obscene by Christianity Today, or your series being optioned into a movie script, are good examples).
However, even the above circumstances sometimes do not necessitate issuing a formal press release. The next thing you need to consider is whether what you have to say is actually newsworthy.
If you read entertainment news sites (adult or mainstream), you may think that every time a celebrity farts, there’s a publicist issuing a press release about it. Unfortunately, that is true of many publicists—and it’s something you should avoid in your own publicity activities.
While the idea behind publicity is to keep your name in front of the public—which you use the media to reach—there is a saturation factor that takes place when you overuse press releases. If you are sending a press release out on yourself and your books every week, you are abusing the press release system. After a very short time, reporters will direct all your e-mails to their spam folder. Press releases should only be distributed when you have actual news to convey to the media.
Is What I Have to Say “Newsworthy”?
Take a look at any press release you are planning to send to the media and ask yourself the following questions:
Does my press release actually say anything of merit that isn’t just grandstanding, chest thumping and making vague claims to prominence, excellence or exclusivity?
Do I have at least one verifiable and credible outside source that I can quote, to substantiate what I’m claiming?
Does my press release have a broad, general interest to the target audience of the publication I’m sending it to AND a strong news angle?
Does my press release inform the average reader of something new about my books or me?
Does my press release avoid sounding like an advertisement?
Does my press release answer all the required questions that constitute a hard news story: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How?
If you cannot answer all of the above questions with a resounding “yes,” then there is no reason to send out a formal press release. Post your news on your social media feeds, and wait until you have information that is more credible and newsworthy, before alerting the media.
Since the art of how to write an effective press release is rather detailed, let’s pick that up in the next WriteSex column. In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday season and a bright and shiny New Year!
Do you have specific questions concerning how to generate publicity for your books? Please email questions and comments to Sherry; answers will appear as future WriteSex blog topics.
Sherry Ziegelmeyer is a professional publicist and public relations representative, who happens to specialize in adult entertainment (in all its various forms). She resides in Chatsworth, California, affectionately known as “ground zero of the adult entertainment industry.” When not working on writing press releases, arranging interviews and putting together review kits for her clients (among dozens of other career related activities), she reads a LOT, loves cooking, appreciates beefcake eye-candy, spending time with friends, family and with her assortment of furred and feathered “kids”.