PR and press outreach

Press outreach for a new nonfiction book, with publishing house coordination and social media support. 

Dr. Caitlin O’Connell is a prolific author of both nonfiction and fiction works with an emphasis on science.  I was honored when she came to me for help to promote her latest book, Elephant Don: The Politics of a Pachyderm Posse, which was being published by the University of Chicago Press.  It is a non-fiction book about elephant behavior and communication.

The first part of the campaign involved coordination with Dr. O’Connell’s publisher. Together, we worked through our contact lists and divided them appropriately.  The publisher’s PR department had a long list of reviewers whom they contacted on a regular basis.  I had a list of feature reporters and bloggers with an interest in science, animal behavior, and elephants.

As I often do, I added to my lists using Pressrush for timely updates to my journalist contacts, and used inkybee to refresh my blogger lists. We are an agency partner with PRNewswire and have access to their database of 800,000 journalists and bloggers. Once once my contact list was approved by Dr. O’Connell, I wrote individual pitch letters to each journalist or blogger, connected with them on social media, usually Twitter, sometimes LinkedIn, and followed up as needed. I am able to see when my emails are opened, and how often, so I can sort through those writers who may be interested, and follow up quickly. Often deadline writers require a quick response if they want an interview or a review copy. I was available on demand. I allow 45 days or more for followups. At times busy writers need a reminder to write, even if they have already promised to create a profile piece or a review.

My approach with book promotion is to request reviews from appropriate reviewers with an interest in the subject matter, but also to request profile pieces from alumni magazines, hometown newspapers, and feature reporters.  When working with a publisher’s PR department, as I was in this case, I referred most interview requests, and all requests for review copies, directly to the publishing house’s public relations department.

Dr. O’Connell’s book received reviews from Inside Higher Ed, Smithsonian Magazine, Psychology Today, The Jackson Free Press, a mention in a think piece in The Guardian, profile pieces in Stanford Magazine, The Wildlife Blog of WBUR, and radio and television coverage from CNN, CBC and NPR.  Specialized blogs with an interest in elephants or nature were active proponents of the book.  Elephantopia, National Geographic News, Societe 123 News, Wildlife News, the University of Hawaii Alumni Association, The Daily Slate, Shepherd’s Way, The Huffington Post, Cherie Reich’s Bookworm News all ran articles or excerpts.

When Dr. O’Connell spoke at the New York Explorers Club in support of her book launch, Red Cup provided social media support to promote the event. The director of the Explorers Club called it one of the most successful ever.