Getting published is a real be-yatch! Hear about my ups, downs and a few random rants in between.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Flip the Script Fridays: To Tease or not to Tease?

Teasers are fun...for the PR person who gets to execute them. They are the one time you get to be a little cutesy with your craft. They break up the monotony of corporate releases and media training executives who, when under pressure will likely forget every single technique you've taught them.

What's a teaser, you say?

They're hints or previews that are sometimes sent to the media to get them interested in a particular story pitch.

Fair warning, teasers are not meant for every story. They need to be used right, in order to work. And sparingly is best.

Remember the chaotic newsroom image we discussed on the very first FTS Friday? Even if the newsroom is nothing like that - when you're about to approach the media make pretend it is. It will help remind you that time is precious in media land and no reporter will waste their time marveling over your release or teaser when they have deadlines to meet - which is all the time.

One of the cutest teasers I've ever done worked. But it worked because the story was still timely and of interest to the community.

So umm, yeah, let's remember that. No matter how cute or intriguing your teaser may be, if the story itself isn't newsworthy, the teaser won't work.

One of my clients used to be MedStar Health. For those in the Baltimore Metro area, you may recognize the name because Medstar owns and operates local hospitals such as Franklin Square and Good Samaritan. They're quite large in the metro area. But have the misfortune of breathing the same medical air as Johns Hopkins. And no one can trump Hopkins as a medical media source.

I've pitched articles to news outlets before that were really good medical stories, only to have the outlets turn me down and then turn around and identify someone from Hopkins for the same damn story.

Media can be so shady!

But I'm not bitter. Hopkins has the reputation.

Maybe you're seeing that getting in the press is so elusive because it's based on some things that you can't control. Actually, it's based on a lot of things you can't control.

But we're talking about press for your book, so you must power forward without regard to whether some other author has a better reputation or a better book. Heck, better book is relative, is it not?

Anyway, the teaser, P, the everloving teaser!

The Medstar hospitals used to hold this annual event The World's Biggest Babyshower. Imagine many many heavily pregnant women (more than you'd ever feel comfortable around, trust me)at a local mall vying for free baby stuff.


But it was an excellent way for Medstar hospitals to showcase their maternity programs, in hopes that these women would choose/had chosen to have their babies in a Medstar Hospital.

By the time I became the Account Sup on this event, it was in its second year. We were worried the media wouldn't cover it again. So we made sure to have a local news personality host the shower - guaranteeing that person's station, if no other, would cover it.

But in order to get other media interested, we sent out a bouquet of customized cookies on a stick. It looked just like a lollipop. But the face was big enough to print a message. I believe we did something like - You're invited to the world's biggest baby shower on blah, blah date etc..

The three or six cookies were also in a cutesy mug, that Jane Pulitzer Reporter could keep.

That's all that was sent.

We didn't send a press kit.

Just this bouquet.

It's a total gamble!

We didn't send a media advisory until the morning of the event (also very risky).

However, being the savvy PR wiz that I am, by having News Personality A host - we were at least going to get broadcast coverage from one station, if nothing else. We call that our ace in the friggin' hole.

But guess what?

The teasers worked to get all type of print and radio media there. The outlets were interested enough in the word's "world's biggest," to send a reporter. They figured there was nothing to lose by having a writer go out and check it out on a Saturday.

This story was a great visual story, perfect for broadcast news. Because this mall court was packed, every inch, packed with pregnant women hoping to win a new crib or a complete baby room remodel package etc. There were also health stations there (of course, it was sponsored by hospitals) for them to get pre natal advice and easy blood pressure check ups and such.

Successful event, good coverage.

Chances are, a teaser may not work for your book.

But if your book has an interesting angle it could.

Or, if you're attending an event to promote your book, a teaser may help to promote that event and the fact that you and your book is a part of it.

Think of teasers as another tool in your kit to help your news stand out.

Over time you'll know when to use and when not to.

I'm not certain what topic to cover next. But if you guys have questions or specific topics you're curious about, let me know in the comments section.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, Miss P -- loved your blog on teasers.

I have a YA coming out this summer and wanted to know how you feel about flyers announcing the book? Mine is a "sports" book with a 13 year old girl MC. Since I haven't had contact with my in- house publicist just yet, I thought I'd ask you. I was thinking about sending said flyers to country clubs, tennis clubs, and family fitness centers in targeted states. My idea behind this, is maybe they can post the flyer in their locker room or pro shops. If I do make these, what do you think should go on them, besides a photo of the book cover, and IBSN number?

Also, off hand, how would I approach these clubs, send an email? I have to admit, the thought of finding the addresses of fifty clubs makes me cringe -- having to track down an individual person at each club to use as a contact person might be impossible. Would it be inappropriate to send them without having contacted an individual there to get the "go-ahead"?

Thanks! (I know you from

10:04 AM

Blogger Miss P AKA Her Royal Cliqueness said...

Hey anon. Let's talk through the purpose of the flyer.

Obviously to bring recognition to the book. But what would the tennis clubs get out of putting it up?

That's always the question. You have to ask why they would allow you to do it. And if they do, imagine the floodgates it opens for others trying to sell a product.

The key is to find a way to "offer" them a service.

If these clubs have youth-oriented programs (which I'm sure they do) maybe they'll allow you to give a talk on something...say the importance of sports to a young person's self-esteem. During this presentation you will, of course, be allowed to talk about your book, hand out flyers/postcards or maybe even sell it.

But now the book isn't the focal point - your expertise is and it's something that supports what they offer - tennis lessons.

If you're able to interest them in this type of thing - maybe it's part of a clinic they offer their young members, maybe it's part of a larger event they offer. I know one of our local tennis clubs has a Kids Fair every year.

This is a much more realistic fit. I'm doubtful they'll allow you to post flyers.

Not saying they won't. But it's unlikely.

However, to answer the more simple question - what should go on a flyer:

Tiny blurb (think 2-3 sentences)
ISBN number (though no kid is going to know how to use this)
URL if you have one
Myspace page if you have one

11:04 AM


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