Archive for category public relations
Normally I’m pitching my own authors for guest posts on Seekerville, so I was honored when asked to write a post of my own. Today I’m sharing tips for authors and aspiring authors on how you can make your publicist’s job easier and hopefully make you and your book more likely to attract some media attention.
Get the full post here.
You’ll also have the chance to win a bundle of books I’m currently promoting!
Two weeks ago we said goodbye (at least in the office) to Mavis Sanders as she retired from her position as corporate publicist at Tyndale House. I met Mavis nearly four years ago when I started working at Tyndale and gleaned much from her 40+ years of experience in Christian publishing.
As a recent college graduate, I didn’t know much about public relations (I took one Intro to PR class senior year of college) and I was clueless when it came to book publicity (who knew people actually promoted books for a living?). Mavis was so kind in sharing her knowledge of PR and the industry with me. I learned from watching her interact with people throughout the company and loved hanging around her at conferences and conventions. She literally knew everyone! I remember going to ICRS for the first time and Mavis introduced me into Francine Rivers (one of my favorite authors). Then at another ICRS a couple years later, I was walking through the hall with Mavis and we pass by Philip Yancey, who she stops to greet and introduce me to because, of course, she knows him too.
I’ve learned a lot from all the members of Tyndale PR that I’ve worked with so far (and from others in Christian publishing/book publicity), but I’ll always remember Mavis as someone who took the time to mentor me at the beginning of my career even as she was nearing the end of hers.
Our team enjoyed planning the details of the retirement party. Today I did a post at the Tyndale blog on “How to honor a Publicist.” You can read about what we did in this red carpet extravaganza and see a few photos from the event.
So thank you, Mavis, for taking the time to invest in me during our time together at Tyndale. I hope I can take what Mavis and other more experienced publicists have taught me and share that knowledge with other new and upcoming publicists. I think we all can do a little more of that with people in our lives. Don’t keep all your wisdom and experience to yourself. Use it to teach others so they can learn from your failures and successes. We’ll all be better off because of it.
How can you use your experiences to mentor someone else today?
Today I celebrate three years of working at Tyndale House Publishers. It’s amazing to think it has already been that long! So in honor of my Tyndale anniversary, I’m going to share the story of how I got into publicity and what led me to where I am today. *Warning–this is kind of long, but I love this story*
From a young age, I always loved reading. I would stay up late at night reading for pleasure with the closet light on. My mom told me that even before kindergarten I used to “read” Curious George books. In reality, I memorized the books after having them read to me all the time so it looked like I read them! My third grade teacher and other teachers told me I was a good writer and that’s where my love for English and writing began. I used to want to be a teacher (it seems like most little girls do), but once I got into high school, I knew I wanted to major in English. I tailored my senior schedule around that by deciding I didn’t need to take AP Calculus (you only needed three years of math to graduate, after all) and took Creative Writing and Intro to Journalism instead. I was also on my high school yearbook staff the last two years I was there.
I went on to college and graduated from Taylor University with a B.A. in English/Writing and a minor in Mass Communications/Journalism. I wasn’t exactly sure what career I would go into, but all I knew is I wanted it to have something to do with writing. I was really into missions and going overseas after going on several international trips during my college years (to London, Scotland, France, China and Poland). So I sought out writing opportunities in missions. I was offered an opportunity to write for the U.S. Center for World Mission in Pasadena, California before I graduated. I wanted to take it, but my parents didn’t think it was a good idea because I would have to raise support to live there (like a missionary), but I’d be living in the States. This was frustrating for me because I felt like they didn’t understand missions and how missionaries raising support is biblical, but I decided not to go.
So I had my degree and moved back home with no job prospects. I spent the summer after college devoting most of my time to serving as a leader for our college fellowship at church. I wasn’t working, but I was still busy. I was kind of searching for a job, but not being as proactive about that as I should’ve been. The most I’d done was post my resume on several different job sites and maybe apply to some of the jobs listed. It was hard because I didn’t have any experience and I had never done any internships in my field. Most entry-level jobs require 1-3 years of experience. Kinda hard to apply when you have zero years.
At the end of July, I received a call from the communications manager at the Chicago Tribune. He saw my resume on one of the websites and talked to me about a freelance communications specialist position he was hiring for. My resume said I’d done some freelance work, so I figured that’s why he called me. It was the Chicago Tribune, so of course I said I was interested! I sent him some writing samples and then left for the weekend to go on our college
This was a “no technology” retreat, so I didn’t have access to my cell phone or email all weekend. I came back late Sunday night, checked my email, and saw that the Tribune had emailed me wanting me to come in for an interview on Monday. Immediately I thought, “Oh no! That’s not going to work! I’m not even prepared!” Luckily, they were flexible and rescheduled it for Tuesday. To make a long story shorter, they called me a couple hours after the interview and hired me as the freelance communications specialist. That was my first introduction into the world of corporate communications and I learned a lot from the experience. I only took Intro to Public Relations in college and I always thought I’d be on the journalist side rather than the side of the public relations professional. My boss was fantastic too–he knew I was looking for a full-time job and kept extending the original three months I was supposed to work there, eventually telling me I could work there until I found a full-time position.
Soon after he told me this, I got a call from Tyndale House Publishers inviting me to come in for an interview for the
publicity assistant position. Two interviews and less than a month later, I had my full-time job. 🙂 I learned a lot more about publishing and how to do book publicity (which is slightly different from corporate communications) and a little over a year ago I was promoted to full-time publicist when one of my colleagues left to be a stay at home mom. Now I’m still learning a lot about social media and other PR strategies to better promote our authors and products.
The fact that I found a full-time job in PR is not why I love this story. I love how this story demonstrates God’s hand in my life. I had one plan for my future and God brought me in a completely different direction. Of course, His plan was way better than my own. As I look back too, I know that God brought me to my job here at Tyndale and I can see how all the different pieces fell into place. They’re so intertwined that it’s hard NOT to miss the fact that God was in it all!
So this is not just a celebration of three years at Tyndale. It’s also a celebration of God’s faithfulnes in my life and a reminder to me of how I need to trust Him with my future. I may not know where I’m headed, but I know the One who does.
Are you noticing God’s fingerprints in your own life?
A couple weeks ago, I learned that the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) here in Chicago had a new roommate: Kate. Kate won a contest to spend a month in the museum, along with a bunch of other prizes. Once she gets out, she’ll also get $10,000. All she has to do is blog, tweet, and make videos about her experience. This includes meeting guests, living in the museum for a month (she’s not allowed to leave), helping out with various things in the museum, and she has an all-access pass to wander around the museum whenever she pleases (which I thought might be a little creepy at night…but maybe the Field Museum would be creepier. It has mummies).
Anyway, I think this is a brilliant PR idea by MSI. Kate’s like their very own advocate, teaching people about science through her videos and sharing behind-the-scenes info about the museum and its exhibits on her blog. She gets a lot of views on her videos, comments on her blog, and you can tell that people definitely want to go visit the museum now to see her and to check out the cool exhibits she tells them about. Even I want to go visit again! I’m pretty sure that’s the museum’s purpose in having this whole contest. It’s a fantastic way to raise awareness about the museum and to get people excited about it.
It helps that they picked Kate to win because she definitely has the personality for the part. She actually reminds me of one of my friends from college who also happens to be named Kate. Funny.
Now, I’m not sure how this would translate into the book/publishing world (since I work at Tyndale). But I think it clearly shows the power of having even just one person who is an advocate for your brand. People are interested and most of all, they’re taking action. They’re interacting with Kate, she’s responding to tweets and comments, people are coming to the museum to visit, Kate gets the experience of a lifetime–it’s a win-win situation for everyone.
In terms of book publicity, this would probably be a more corporate thing–like a Tyndale Teammate (not the greatest name, but that’s all I could come up with right now). Maybe we’d pick the TT from a contest to be our advocate for the year. You’d receive free copies of Tyndale books, which you would review on a special blog and talk about on Twitter. You’d get to interview some of our authors and post them online (maybe even do one of those video chat interviews). You could maybe even help out with some book signings or follow along on a book tour. Maybe even attend a trade show or two and help out in the Tyndale booth. And you’d always have to wear the same orange shirt like Kate at MSI does (just kidding). People get excited about things when they see how passionate others are about them. We need someone like that (besides us) for our books.
What do you think? How do you think this Month at the Museum idea could translate into book publicity?