Publicity is elusive: everyone knows what it involves until you actually have to do it. Consequently, there’s more ‘how not to’ advice than ‘how to’. On one hand a publicist is criticised for allowing an email to “echo into silence” and fail to get back to someone keen to help publicise a book. On the other, publicists are criticised for pretending to have met someone they clearly haven’t and then compounding the problem for firing off round robin emails obviously based quantity rather than quantity. Then there’s passing the buck: Argos inadvertently allowed some gamers to get their hands on an Xbox 360 Halo 3 game before the release date but left it to Microsoft to confirm early use won’t get gamers barred. A job that Argos really should have taken responsibility for. Argos recently sourced some sofas from China – no problem there, they not the only furniture distributors to do so – but this particular batch of sofas was treated with a combination of chemicals that caused severe skin allergy reactions in some people. To their credit Argos have removed the sofas and are offering a refund or replacement sofa to customers, but surely this is a missed opportunity: swift action, an apology and promise not to use this source again would have easily have won over loyal customers. Instead some have turned to the internet for information that should be forthcoming from Argos.
1. Respect your contacts – if someone’s eager to help with publicity, follow up.
2. Tailor publicity for contacts – it’s time consuming but everyone remembers a personal note whereas a round robin or press release obviously sent to as many media outlets as in the publicist’s email address book will simply be moved to the delete box.
3. If you do misfire, don’t be afraid to apologise. Passing the buck = you don’t care.
4. Never acknowledge that you have more important clients/publicity projects. No one likes to feel they’ve been pushed to the back of a queue.