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Why Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Book Club shirt
Back in the day, I did some publicity for authors.

And without fail, every time I sat down to talk with an author about a PR and marketing campaign, one of the first things the author would say is: “I want to be on Oprah.”

It didn’t matter whether the book was fiction or non-fiction. It didn’t matter what the subject was. Every author perceived Oprah as being the holy grail of book sales.

And while there’s no question that Oprah’s Book Club put MANY novels on bestseller lists, the truth as I understand is it that the same can’t be said for many (most?) of the non-fiction authors who made it onto her stage.

The moral of that story for me is simple: Bigger isn’t always better.

It’s a message I shared with authors all the time…  and it’s a message that can be applied to any business and almost any PR and marketing campaign.

The best place for publicity for your book, your business, or your product may not be Oprah or the Washington Post or the New York Times. Why?

  1. Chances are a feature in a larger publication will focus less on you or your product. You probably will be part of a larger story. Or you will be a small, less prominent “filler” piece in the larger publication.
  2. The audience is less targeted. The “profile” of a Washington Post reader isn’t much of a profile because the readership is SO broad.

Instead, I often pointed my clients to smaller publications with more targeted audiences. For example, looking to sell a non-fiction science book? Try “Science Friday” on NPR instead of “Talk of the Nation” or “Morning Edition.”

And a review in a journal like Science will probably do more for you than the Washington Post because everyone reading Science cares about the topic.

One important question to ask yourself when you’re creating your marketing and PR plan that ties back to this idea is “What am I trying to accomplish?”

If you’re trying to sell products or find new clients, you need to create a targeted campaign and spend most of your time (and money) on smaller, niche publications where you know that ALL the readers – versus a small percentage of them – will care about what you’re trying to sell or promote.

If you’re looking for general visibility for your company, you may still target the larger publications, but again I’d still recommend you spend a large amount of time and money with these smaller pubs.

Because remember: Bigger isn’t always better!

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Image: infowidget via Flickr, Creative Commons

Robin Ferrier is Communications Manager for the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus. She is also the immediate past president of the Capital Communicators Group and the co-chair of the Marketing Committee for the Tech Council of Maryland. She has inadvertently become a frequent career / professional / job hunt resource for friends and colleagues due to a career path that has included five jobs in 12 years.


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