After-Hours Number and Your Personal Email in Your Press Release?

by | Feb 18, 2015

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
  • Email

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.

Final Thoughts

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?

Mickie KennedyMickie Kennedy is the founder of eReleases based in Baltimore, MD. Visit eReleases for more information on press release writing and formatting.

 
Photo: bigstockphoto.com

tbd advanced publishing starter kit

8 Comments

  1. Shirley S. Pennebaker

    This transporting company with the best means of transport is facilitating the people. There are many users of these transports that travel on them and check this https://cocofinder.com/address-lookup/who-lives-at-this-address to get know who lives at this address. I am also a big fan of this company and always used to prefer them while traveling.

    Reply
  2. Joan Leacott

    Mickie, Thank you for such a sensible and reassuring post. I don’t have a cell phone (a blessing in disguise, I think) nor would I put up my landline number. I agree with Laura, better safe than sorry. Email address only, then.

    Reply
  3. Laura Roberts

    I have to agree with the desperation angle, but another issue immediately springs to my mind when I think about putting your phone number out on a public site: stalkers.

    Maybe female writers are more wary about this kind of thing, but I never, ever put my phone numbers up on websites or PR info. That info can and will be harvested by people who are up to no good, and the more personal info you put out there on static sites (meaning it’s there for all eternity), the more likely these people will find it and use it against you.

    Given the recent spate of (again, largely female) authors being sent aerial photos of their houses along with death threats, and other psychotic behavior by so-called fans, I don’t consider it paranoid to guard my phone number. Especially if it’s a cell phone that someone could track to a specific location using the GPS.

    Reply
    • Mickie Kennedy

      This is one of the reasons why I insist my clients use the free email anonymization service I offer with releases. The warning I typically give is that without an anonymous address they’ll be subject to spam emails and unsolicited phone calls.

      ‘Gamergate’ and other recently publicized cases of female bloggers being stalked and grossly harassed just really drives home the danger of putting your info out to the public.

      David’s comment below, “…reviewers etc are quite pleased to contact you in normal working hours. An email address is enough. If the writer wants, he can then pass his [or her] phone number,” are words of wisdom. A dummy email account that you check frequently is even better.

      Either way, very valid point. Webmasters and service providers should be taking that kind of behavior much more seriously.

      Reply
  4. David Baird

    This is a no-brainer. By all means include personal phone numbers etc on press releases — if you don’t mind being called at all hours by people who are never going to buy your book. As a journalist I can tell you that reporters interested in hard news will call anybody any time about anything when an editor is breathing down their backs. But books are another matter entirely. Unless your work of art is likely to create a national scandal and thus is hot news, reviewers etc are quite pleased to contact you in normal working hours. An email address is enough. If the writer wants, he can then pass his phone no.

    Reply
    • Mickie Kennedy

      David, I’m really glad to have someone from “the other side of the desk” commenting here. It’s reassuring to know that for a majority of writers (you know, non-national scandal types) a simple email will suffice, and that the 4 a.m. phone call will be a rare (if non-existent) occurrence. Thanks!

      Reply
  5. Michael N. Marcus

    The flacks (PR people) who work for Fortune 500 companies and government agencies often put personal cellphone numbers on press releases. That seems a bit over-the-top and pathetic for an author seeking book reviews.

    If you choose to, you can check email and voicemail around the clock. But a response at 4 in the morning to a question about page count will make you seem desperate.

    Reply
    • Mickie Kennedy

      True enough, Michael. The PR guys are in the business of 4 a.m. phone calls. Authors, on the other hand, might better spend their time doing what they do best — writing!

      Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Top Picks Thursday 02-26-2015 | The Author Chronicles - […] writers, we all know we need to be available for marketing purposes. Mickie Kennedy asks: How available should you…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.