By Mickie Kennedy ( @ereleases)
A press release can be an important part of an author’s book launch. Today Mickie Kennedy of eReleases discusses how to find the balance between promotion and privacy when it comes to writing our press releases.
I don’t know about you, but nearly as soon as PR and book marketing took to the internet I started noticing trendy pieces about the internet and work/life balance. This trend only became more pronounced with the advent of Blackberries and then other smartphones, when it seemed like every professional author always carried the world of work on his hip or in her bag.
It’s true that I hearken back to the old days where you could leave work at work. But, on the other hand, now that no one leaves work at work, taking a break from the squawking phone or pinging email could mean a missed opportunity. Which leads to the question: as an ‘authorpreneur’, should you put your cell phone number on every press release? Should you include your personal email address?
Before we answer that question, though, let’s take a look at the anatomy of a strong PR call-to-action, which typically includes a solid closing paragraph, a Boilerplate, and Contact Information.
The Anatomy of a Call-to-Action
This is why you wrote the press release in the first place. Whether you’re trying to sell more books, draw attendees to a signing, or announcing the dates when your ebook is going to be free on Amazon, your call to action is the part of your release that “takes care of business”.
The closing paragraph on your release should provide the following:
- The details of where to buy your book
- When and where you’ll be signing, and the price of admission (if any)
- When and where you’ll be giving away your ebook
- Any fine details that tell the reader exactly how they can take action on the story outlined in your release
Great – now the journalist, blogger, or casual reader will know exactly how to take advantage of that great ebook offer. The next element in this call-to-action is a paragraph about you. This is called the Boilerplate.
Let’s say the release you sent out about your latest book grabs the attention of a book blogger looking for a story. After she writes about your new thriller, she will inevitably want to tell her readers about you, the author. This is where your Boilerplate comes in. This should include:
- Your name
- Where you work out of
- Some interesting biographical tidbits (other than you being an author)
- Your Boilerplate’s header should be titled ‘About Your Name’
Finally, it’s essential to have contact information. How will a journalist call you for an interview? Email you? What if a bookstore manager wants to host a signing for you while you’re in the area? They have to get in touch with you somehow. You should include:
- The name and title of the person the press/other parties should contact
- Phone number
Which brings us to our original question: you don’t want to miss any opportunities, but where do you draw the line? How much information is too much?
The Case For Personal Contact Info
News is no longer the daily paper and the 6 o’clock news. Journalists are often expected to not only write a news article or produce a segment, they’re also expected to write four or five blog articles per day at the same time. Information is flying at them hard and fast. The easiest way to elicit a major groan from a journalist is to ask her how many press releases she has received today.
This is where your cell phone comes in. Say your press release has piqued a busy reporter’s interest. She’s trying to get in her last blog post for the evening before she goes home. But she has a question about your release. She calls your number and it hits your voicemail. She emails you and no answer. The story is incomplete and the moment may very well have passed. Tomorrow she moves on to fresher news, and you’ve missed out on your chance to see your book publicized.
Nobody wants to be in this situation. If you have anonymized your email to go to a business-hours-only account, listed a phone number that you’re not going to answer after 5 pm, or, if you’re lucky, you have someone else doing this work for you who keeps 9-5 kind of hours, this is a real possibility.
The Case Against Personal Contact Info
This case is more philosophical. Yes, news is important, but is your new novel or ebook really important enough that you should take time out of playing with your kids or enjoying an evening glass of wine with your spouse to answer calls about it?
I know it might sound insane that a PR pro is complaining about the news cycle getting out of control, but does this story truly have to be posted on the web at 10 pm on a Tuesday? Can’t it wait?
Another very real possibility is that your information might be harvested and used to email/call you at all hours about products or services you don’t want or need which is nothing short of annoying. You can anonymize an email address or set up a dummy account, but that’s not so easy with a cell phone.
If you subscribe to this school of thought, then leave your cell number off of your press releases. Do your part to build a slightly slower, saner world.
Some news is huge. There are times when you absolutely, 100% must put a cell phone number on your release. You’re a pro, you get that. But perhaps consider slowing down a little when it comes to the smaller, less competitive stories – like an appearance at a trade show as opposed to a fresh book release.
After all, you’ll be fresh again in the morning to answer that reporter’s questions.
What do you think? Do you always put personal contact info on your press releases? Why or why not?