The give-and-take of publicity
As a publicist, I spend much of my week alerting the press and blogosphere about our upcoming books, hoping to get them to run a review or an author interview, or at the very least get them to mention the title in a roundup or pertinent feature article. Of course, there are hundreds or other publicists doing the same thing at the same time, so competition is fierce, and you have to accept that, often, your efforts may come to nothing. Such is the nature of the job. But sometimes the press throws you a bone, offering publicity without your needing to do any work at all.
For example, in the past few days The Guardian ran a very interesting article, by Deborah Orr, about Joseph Merrick, where she claimed that “today’s poor are depicted as a freak show, just as the Elephant Man was”, which might encourage more readers to seek out our fascinating book The True History of the Elephant Man, by Michael Howell and Peter Ford. And Hadley Freeman’s Lost in Showbiz blog post about Chris Brown revealed her penchant for novels “about shallow people who do utterly indefensible jobs” and mentioned, as an example, Thank You For Smoking, by Christopher Buckley, “the story of a tobacco lobbyist with the delightfully alliterative name of Nick Naylor.”
As a publicist, it is important to be able to think outside of the box when pitching ideas to the press, but I can not profess to have given Deborah Orr the idea that Joseph Merrick would make the perfect analogy in a topical piece about poverty. Nor could I have foreseen that Hadley Freeman might decide to do something on Chris Brown’s bad, but seemingly indestructible, reputation – which would indeed have brought to mind Buckley’s brilliant satires about the power of PR and “spin”.
So, whilst it often feels like the media takes takes takes (as you pitch ideas, send out books, offer up features) and gives nothing in return, occasionally the press does give back a little, for nothing. Call it a cosmic re-addressing of the publicity balance.
Chiara Priorelli, Publicity & Online Marketing Manager