Breaking through the Noise: What You Can Earn and When You Have to Pay


This post was written by Zainab Oni.

Journalist? Here’s some advice that was dished out during SMW NYC from Sarah Russo, an independent literary publicist and publishing communications strategist, and Rich Kelley, VP of “Your Expert Nation,” who has been marketing books to specialized audiences for more than 20 years.

They introduced the five basic questions you should always ask yourself when you embark on the journey of writing a story:

  1. What is my message?
  2. What do I hope to accomplish with this message?
  3. Who is my target audience?
  4. Where do they “live”? Where are these audiences on the web?
  5. What problem or concern does my audience have that I can solve?

After you have written your amazing story, it’s time to share it. This is where the knowledge gets good. It’s important to know the different types of sharing: owned, earned and paid.

  • + Owned: You own it, You don’t have to pay for it, eg., people read your it on your blog, Facebook, etc. or they search for you on Google.
  • + Earned: Someone made the decision that your story was worth passing along, eg., Barnes and Noble, Amazon
  • + Paid: You have paid someone to share your work, eg., Facebook ads

Regardless of which method you use to get your story out there, you still want to do the following things:

  • + Earn Up: You have to start at the bottom.
  • + Find the right outlet for your coverage.
  • + Find creative ways to present your story.
  • + Know your media resources: build a relationship with the people that can potentially promote and sell your story.
  • + Know who you will be pitching to so you can target your pitch.
  • + Find the “Top 10” in your subject area and find out what they do that makes them so special.
  • + Use your resources, both human and financial, to gain momentum.
  • + Have your story accessible to people so they can share it.
  • + Try to tie into current headlines.
  • + Use tools like Cision and My Media Info for access to databases that allow you to find producers and publicists that already have a sort of platform in the industry.
  • + Monitor your social media activity to measure your success on each site. Where are you being shared? Who is looking at your work?
  • + Know your audience but don’t alienate certain groups to broaden your reach.
  • + Keep your social media under control. You don’t necessarily have to be everywhere. Keep it simple so your audience knows where to focus.
  • + “There’s no such thing as bad publicity?” That’s a lie.
  • + You need to do crisis control if your story ever becomes “bad.” You don’t want bad press that goes viral to be all you’re associated with.
  • + Lastly, blend the timeless tools (networking) and the newest tools (social media) for maximum impact.

Zainab Oni is a senior at Hudson High School of Learning Technologies who will be attending University of Virginia in the fall. Zainab has been a member of the MOUSE Corps program for four years. Follow Zainab on Twitter @McMotherboard. Zainab is one of our SMW Press Corps members, managed by OpenCommunications. Learn more here.

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