Posts Tagged ‘Hiring a PR company’

What’s up on Thanksgiving

November 28, 2013

I began my Thanksgiving with chilly morning walks for Sadie and Dexter, elegant standard poodles who require separate outings, thank you very much.

Their owners asked that I walk them one at a time, which I strongly prefer anyway. I find that two dogs, two leashes, multiple distractions and however many poop bags I end up with can lead to more confusion than I care to handle.

Also, I discovered during Sadie’s first walk that she enjoys barking and mildly lunging at any dog she encounters along the way. Since Sadie is 13 years old, and since I will be with her for just one week, I harbor no illusions about my ability to break her of this particular habit during our time together.

Fortunately it’s a very quiet neighborhood, and in three days we’ve only seen two dogs, so it’s hardly an issue. Both dogs are very sweet and docile all day long, though Sadie’s mischievous nature extends to a trick I’ve only heard about but never seen up till now—and that is grabbing the end of the toilet paper roll and pulling it out. Actually, I haven’t caught her doing it, though I think that would be funny. I’ve only seen the results, about 12 feet worth of toilet paper laid out across the bathroom floor in a perfect line. It’s pretty hilarious to find when you think you’re alone in a house.

Needless to say, I am thankful to be in the company of two entertaining, four-legged clowns this Thanksgiving. I’m preparing a dish to take to some friends’ home for a big dinner later this afternoon. Although it’s tempting, I won’t load up Sadie and Dexter to bring along, since my friends have a giant mastiff, and although all three dogs are good as gold, I don’t care to take chances that someone will get their nose out of joint.

When last I blogged, Dr. Mo and I were wrestling with the question of whether to sign a contract with a public relations firm to represent “Kiss and Tell.” After nine months, I feel like I’ve done about 75 percent of what I know how to do to market the book, so seeking help makes sense. We researched some other firms and asked dozens of people for their opinion. Honestly, there was a lot of disagreement. Plenty of people said DO NOT DO IT. And lots of people said THIS IS YOUR SHOT; DO IT.

We realized it was going to be a gamble. After much soul-searching, we threw the dice and decided to bet on “Kiss and Tell.” We signed a four-month contract last week with InsiderMedia out of Boca Raton. Already I’ve seen the difference, which is encouraging. A magazine in Fort Lauderdale needs a high-res photo of our cover for an article they want to do about us for Valentine’s Day; I wrote a 1,000-word blog yesterday for a relationship site; we did some fine-tuning on our website and Facebook page; and Dr. Mo wrote some tips on sustaining desire during the holidays for the company to use during marketing. I’m sure there’s much more to come.

The best thing for me is that the momentum of my life seems to have picked up, and that is a definite positive. When the Topamax made me so sick in August, I did pull out of it, but I don’t feel I’ve fully regained my normal energy or motivation. (Faithful blog readers will recall I started the Topamax in late summer as a migraine preventive, and immediately slid into a nasty six-week depression.)

Anyway, having the structure and contact of a relationship with a PR firm seems to be helpful for me at this stage, so that’s another thing to be thankful for on this particular day. I’m thankful as well for a few weeks at home here in sunny West Palm, although I thoroughly enjoyed a three-day trip to Charlotte, N.C. with Dr. Mo earlier this month for a book signing at Park Road Books. While there, I also watched the doctor at her professional best as she taped her live segment for “Charlotte Today,” a spot she does every month for the NBC affiliate.

Also in November I visited my former roommate, who moved to Cleveland about four years ago and took a job in a marketing department of a large law firm. A girlfriend from Austin flew in as well and we made it one of those fabulous girls’ weekends you never want to see end. Wonderful pubs and restaurants, the West End Market, Great Lakes Science Center and shopping at Crocker Park.

And, oh yes, cocktail hour with her parents.

My friend’s parents adhere to this quaint little tradition called cocktail hour. Like you see on “Mad Men.” Something I heard about but never experienced growing up in Richardson, Texas. Complete with ice bucket, olives, delectable snacks, napkins, drinks. Everything else gets put on hold. People sit down. Chat. Sip a drink. Have a little something to eat. Talk over the day’s events. Relax. Think about dinner.

It’s incredibly civilized. I could definitely fall in love with the whole ritual.

My vacation euphoria let my senses override what I know for certain: For me, alcohol equals a migraine. After my first (very moderate) cocktail hour, I woke up with a migraine, so I gave up the practice the day after I started it. I drank ginger ale on subsequent days, along with fancy snacks on cocktail napkins and a bit of sophisticated conversation. I am sad to report it wasn’t the same. I mourn my inability to imbibe, but I assume my long-range health (insert giant yawn here) will benefit. Sigh.

So that’s it. A Thanksgiving report, and a very good one overall as you can see. A bit of complaining in the headache department as I am wont to do, but I am definitely grateful for progress on the book front, good friends to be having dinner with, happy dogs here in the house with me, and loving friends and family all year long.

Plus, the chilly day in West Palm has turned bright and sunny, and it’s blown away the heavy humidity. So it is truly glorious outside. Before long it’ll be time to get Sadie and Dexter out for walks again. Happy days!

Mass Marketing

October 19, 2013

The best argument against self-publishing is the simple fact that most writers yearn to write books, not market books.

I’m glad Dr. Whelihan and I went the self-publishing route, and we’ve been amazingly successful getting the word out about  “Kiss and Tell,” but let me assure you that securing media attention and exposure in magazines, newspapers, radio and TV for any book, product or idea these days is very difficult and much more time consuming than people realize.

After a certain number of months thinking about ways to talk to people about the book you’ve written on sexual desire, let’s just say the desire wanes.

I find that half my time is spent just trying to ferret out the correct contact people at media organizations to pitch to. That’s half the battle right there, because there’s no point mailing your product into a black hole. Even with my former newspaper experience, I struggle with this all the time.

So you can imagine my excitement when I saw that “Kiss and Tell” had finally cracked a national magazine. Yep. The Aug. 26 edition of Publishers Weekly carried not only a description of our book, but also a thumbnail of the cover. Since only a few covers per page were used, I chose to be complimented that we were among those selected.

But how do you break into more of those larger markets/audiences and therefore increased sales? What I’ve had lots of practice at is speaking with 20-50 people about my topic and connecting with them one on one. I love signing books and chatting afterward with audience members, hearing their stories and feeling that bond. I’ve talked to groups as large as 140, but I don’t have a famous name that gathers many more people than that to a venue.

What I need is a TV audience, right?

So . . . speaking of TV audiences . . . a PR firm approached Dr. Whelihan and I about representing us and they happen to have a lot of contacts in broadcast media, which is a good fit for us, since we’ve already done a pretty good job pitching the book to local print media. I’m shocked by how expensive it is to secure their services though—more than a couple thousand dollars a month!

But when I look at how difficult it is to attract anyone’s attention in today’s society, and I look at the competition out there from both professionals and amateurs (and I assess how hard we’ve been working already to do this exact thing), I’m wondering if maybe it isn’t time to bring in some help.

It’s not as if I’ve stopped my own marketing efforts. Far from it. When Miley Cyrus made her ridiculous remarks last week on “The Today Show” about how people over 40 lose interest in sex, one of “Kiss and Tell’s” local fans took to Kathie Lee and Hoda’s website to tell the two morning show hosts to read my book and learn first-hand what women of a certain age were saying about their sex lives.

So I quickly dropped a copy of the book in the mail to 30 Rockefeller Plaza, along with a two-pack of Oral-B Pulsar toothbrushes and a cute note for Hoda and Kathie Lee. (I did the same for Dr. Oz when he visited West Palm three months ago.) My fingers are crossed. But you can’t count on lightning to strike. You can hope, but you have to drop a lot of lines in the water to hook one of these talk show personalities. Everyone is trying to get their attention.

So what do you guys think? Is it worth the gamble to spend money that could boost sales? The PR company loves the idea of pitching sex to Florida’s morning talk shows. They are more accustomed to difficult topics such as stamp collecting (seriously) and are thrilled at the prospect of what they consider an easy sell. I’m thinking there’s a good chance we could justify the investment, but I’m nervous, naturally. Reader input welcome!

Meanwhile, I’m packing for a trip to Austin. I leave in two days and am looking forward to several book signing events, meetings with friends old and new, family time and fall weather.

Color me thrilled.