As we wrap up 2012 and start to plan for the New Year I wanted to review the things I got right and the things I didn’t. In the past few years, there have been so many changes in the book industry, and in technology, that sometimes my only guide has been my intuition. Fortunately, our missteps can often teach us more than flawless execution. So here are the lessons I have learned in 2012:
Why Press Release Didn’t Work For Us. Working as the President of an online public relations firm, I relied on press releases to get the attention of editors. Over time, however, I noticed that they didn’t seem to be working as they once did. One reason is that the “one pitch fits all” approach was not working online. Bloggers are unique and so are their interests. For example I hear people talking about mommy bloggers or book bloggers, but in truth those communities are made up of people with very different interests.
I took a huge leap of faith and decided to stop doing press releases. Instead of taking the time to write them, proof them, wait for approval, print them and stuff them, we took that time to talk to the editors/bloggers and invest the time in social media. I thought I would get push-back from clients, but once I explained why I was making the change they agreed with the approach.
I am happy to report that this change we got right. It was the right decision and we’re moving into 2013 with no intention of doing the traditional press releases.
Delegating Social Media. I thought outsourcing social media was always wrong. Although it is best to keep your hands in your own social media, the only way for it to be effective is if it is consistent. A writer’s life is not consistent, which means they are sometimes more active on social media than other times. Trying to do it all themselves can be distracting. Of course, it is crucial to delegate this responsibility to someone trustworthy. I would also suggest having clear goals and to monitor activities very closely.
For 2013, we are exploring and open to creating a hybrid system for our clients.
People like to follow people, not books. I thought book websites and book Facebook pages were a good idea. Remember the days of microsites? Today, I believe that the only websites, Facebook pages and Twitter handles should be in the author’s name, no matter how diverse their list of books and activities. I would advise against a title or book site because people follow people not books. Authors are most effective when they work to build their brand, and can increasingly build a loyal following when readers feel connected to them.
In 2013, we will move away from book related digital assets and focus more on the author’s brand.
Keep Learning. Every single job in publishing should be a social job. I did not always think so. But the more people there are to amplify your message the better. Social media is not only a broadcasting tool, it is also one of the best learning and listening tools for you and your business. You have an open forum to observe and study the readers, their taste and comments. At a time when we need to be learning new skills all the time, social media can be a gateway to that learning.
This one I did get right. We shifted our entire staff to incorporate social media and social networking in everything they do: From searching for influencers, tracking numbers and word-of-mouth, to interacting with bloggers, and supporting our clients. In 2013, we will continue our focus on incorporating social media with our online publicity campaigns.
In the coming year, I only know one thing for sure. We’ll need to keep all options open and learn as we go. What have you learned in 2012? Please share your lessons.