- “Pay-Per-Placement Versus Retainer Based Book Publicity: An Assessment” by Dan Smith
- “4 Things to Have In Place Before Starting a Book Publicity Campaign” by Corinne Liccketto
Pay-Per-Placement Versus Retainer Based Book Publicity:
by Dan Smith, CEO/Founder, Smith Publicity
# 1:“Pay nothing unless we produce.” It’s a compelling, seemingly perfect arrangement. An author pays nothing unless a book publicity agency secures media coverage. A no-brainer. A “why would you do anything else” proposition. Pay-per-placement (PPP) seems perfect.
#2: “No guarantees of any coverage, but we have a carefully developed plan and a track record.” Wait, wait, wait … nothing guaranteed? A retainer based (RB) publicity firm or publicist takes thousands of your dollars each month and guarantees nothing? Why would an author choose this?
The debate over RB book marketing and PPP is an old one, and to be sure and fair, there’s no definitive “right” answer. There are inherent advantages and disadvantages to both. Education is key for any author considering a book marketing campaign. In fact, the idea of a “campaign” is one the key differences. It’s also a matter, either way, of being careful what you ask for.
Defining Pay-Per-Placement and Retainer-Based Book Marketing Campaigns
PPP appears simple in concept. An author typically pays nothing upfront, and only pays when actual coverage is secured. Fees can range from $100 per placement to over $10,000. If nothing happens and no coverage is secured, nothing is paid. A poor performing firm is not rewarded for lack of effectiveness. Similar in concept to the attorney who works on your behalf but only gets paid if he gets you money, it’s an instinctively powerful selling proposition.
RB publicists charge anywhere from $2,500 to $8,000 per month, or more, and offer no guarantees of coverage. Contracts can range from two months to a year or more. A strategic plan is prepared, and the publicist or agency will tout their track record, offer testimonials and references, and generally show off their body of work. The bottom line, however, remains: Nothing is guaranteed. An author can ostensibly pay for months and receive no coverage. What the book marketing agency has done for other clients doesn’t guarantee the same will happen for an author.
Here are some snippets from an actual sample rate sheet from a pay-per-placement publicity firm:
Type of outlet:
Magazine circ. to 49,999 Newspaper circ. to 99,999
Trade Publications circ. to 4,999
Magazine circ. to 49,999
Newspaper circ. to 99,999
Trade Publications circ. to 4,999
–Focus Coverage $1,450
–Including client URL add $450
Magazine circ. 500,000+
Newspaper circ. 800,000
Trade Publications circ. 15,000+
–Focus Coverage $4,500
–Including client URL Add $700
BUSINESS WEB MEDIA
Visitors/month to 49,999
Including Client URL – add $350
Visitors/month 50,000 – 199,000
Including Client URL- add $550
Visitors/month 200,000 – 499,000
Including Client URL – Add $650
Including Client URL – add $700
Streaming Video for above
Let’s put PPP versus RB to the test in two case studies:
Here is actual client update for a print publicity campaign carried out by Smith Publicity for a business book author:
By-line articles, reviews, print interviews, mentions, or feature stories ran in the following publications:
• 2/2/11: Wiglaf Journal: Book review
• 3/2: Manufacturing & Technology
• 3/10: Business Life Magazine
• 3/11: TMCnet.com
• 3/15: Senior Market Advisor
• 3/21: Creative Leisure News
• 3/21: Inside Business Magazine
• 3/21: BusinessNH Magazine
• 3/22: Senior Market Advisor (Part 2)
• 3/23: Dynamic Business magazine
• 3/23: Top-Consultant.com
• 3/24: TheHR Director
• 3/25: eHotelier.com
• 3/28: FreshBusinessThinking.com
• 3/29: Business Spectator
• 3/29: Customer Think
• 3/30: CustomerAnalyticsOne
• 4/1: Canadian Professional Sales Association
• 4/1: DentistryIQ
• 4/3: ConnectIT
• 4/3: eChannelLine
• 4/3: The Drum (online)
• 4/24: Florida Times Union
• 4/27: Repertoire Magazine Blog:
• 4/29: Central Florida Christian Chamber Blog
• May 2011 Jacksonville Business Journal
• May 2011 Advantages Magazine
• May 2011 Mworld (American Management Association’s newsletter)
• May 2011 Marketing Sherpa
• June 2011 Proofs Magazine
• March/April 2011 Business Excellence Online Magazine
• 5/25 TheHill.com
• 5/25 Customer Think
• 5/31 Financial Post
• 6/1 Agency Sales Magazine
• 6/2 China Watch Blog
• 6/2 ECM Plus (online)
• 6/3 Dentistry IQ (online)
• 6/7 Australian Financial Review
• 6/16 The People Bulletin (online)
• 6/20 Sales & Marketing Management (online)
• 6/21 Contact Magazine
• 6/22 RealBusiness (online)
• 6/22 Premier Business Centres
• 6/24 Dynamic Business (online)
• 6/25 The Drum (online)
• 7/8 SmartBlog on Leadership
• 7/20 BNET
• 7/28 Top-Consultants
• August 2011 Construction Executive Magazine
• 8/9 MyCustomer.com
• 8/12 BizIndia
• 8/18 Wide Format Magazine
• 8/19 Direct Marketing International (online)
• 8/22 Top-Consultants (online)
• 8/22 AccomNews (online)
• 8/24 WABusinessNews (online)
• 8/25 Anthill Magazine
• August 2011 e.manager newsletter
• September 2011 Furniture News
• 9/Investor’s Business Daily (print & online):
• 9/19 Looking Fit (online)
• 9/30 Orange County Register
• 10/10 Social Enterprise Live
• 10/11 Social Tech Pop
• 10/12 CRN Magazine
• 10/13 WTN News (online)
• 10/15 BusinessReview USA (online):
• 10/20 Bernama (online):
• 10/26 US Daily Review (online):
• November 2011 Furniture News
• 10/26 Top-Consultant (online)
• 11/1 SmartBusiness Florida (online)
• 11/11 Express TravelWorld (online)
• 12/2 Quality Digest
• 12/5 Globe and Mail
• 12/6 International Business Times
• 12/14 SmartPros
• 12/15 CustomerThink
• SmartBrief on Small Business (online)
• 1/9/12 Recruiter
• 1/10 Reeves College (online)
• Jan 2012 Sales and Service Excellence
Using the PPP rates at the absolute lowest cost of $1,000 for a “mention,” (most of the above coverage types were full articles, reviews, and feature stories), the author would have paid a PPP firm over $80,000. Taking just two months, March and April, the author would have paid the PPP firm over $30,000.
This Smith Publicity author paid a retainer of $3,200 a month. In two months, she paid $6,400. Over the course of the entire campaign, she paid $35,200.
PPP for two months = $30,000
PPP for full campaign: over $80,000
RB for two months = $6,400
RB for full campaign = $35,200
Here’s another example:
An author paid Smith Publicity $2,800 per month to secure both print and broadcast coverage. His partial update revealed the following, with associated PPP fees for each type of coverage from the sample rate sheet in parentheses.
Note: For radio, depending on the market size, the pay-per-placement firm charges between $1900 for a “segment/feature” at a top ranked market radio show, and $800 for a “Sound Byte/Brief Appearance” on a small market radio show. The estimated charges below are based on an average of $1,200 per show.
“The Kim Pagano” show – ($1,200)
“Parent Talk” on KWMR ($1,200)
Berkeley radio – 40 minutes including questions/comments from callers. ($1,200)
FOX TV San Diego. ($2,600)
LA KSRW 92.5 ($1,200)
Orange County Register, feature, ($4,000)
Your Teen Magazine, feature, ($1,800)
Jewish Magazine, feature, ($1,800)
Press Democrat – feature, ($3,000)
KIRO Seattle’s Morning News. ($3,000)
KUOW Radio ($1,200)
Bay Area Parent magazine. ($1,800)
KOMO TV. Interview, ($2,000)
All YOU magazine, feature, ($1,800)
People magazine, 2 page feature, ($5,700)
“Woman Talk Radio” ($1,200)
PPP cost = $37,000
RB cost: $8,400
The Price of Success
The above case studies reflect campaigns that, admittedly, went well in Smith Publicity retainer based campaigns. While they are indeed generally reflective of most Smith campaign results, there are certainly campaigns that do not go as well, and even some that produce limited results.
Every author goes into a campaign wanting to secure as much media coverage as possible. Ironically, good pay-pay-placement services mean an author pays for the success, generally at a rate much higher than a retainer-based campaign. The logic, therefore, goes like this: You can hire a PPP firm and hope they succeed, and you will pay much more than if you paid a retainer; or, hire a PPP firm and hope they don’t do as well so you don’t pay too much. The third scenario: Hire a retainer-based firm, with no guarantees, and trust they will implement a successful campaign for which you know exactly what you will pay.
Campaigns Versus Hired Guns and Snipers
A PPP publicist has one objective, pitch, pitch, and pitch to get the highest quantity and quality of hits and media runs to charge the most money. Period. While an author certainly can dictate the type of media he wants, there is only one plan: Get as much as possible. Fire away, with one goal: Make as much money as possible.
A RB publicity campaign is multi-tiered, diverse, and carefully developed based on a strategy designed to meet an author’s goals. Pitching is rolled out in a logical manner, i.e. long-lead magazines are contacted first, then a baseline of radio interviews are secured, and newspaper and online media pitching is rolled out. It is an actual “campaign,” with alternative pitching plans if there is weak response, flexibility, and customized pitching based on media type.
Additionally, authors have different goals. Many of course want coverage so they sell books, while others are endeavoring to enhance their credibility and use their book and publicity coverage as a marketing tool for their business. In a RB campaign, the precise type of outlets that could achieve the desired results can be targeted. Moreover, the type of coverage pitched can be changed accordingly. Smith Publicity, for example, has had extraordinary success using byline article pitching, in which the author writes an article at our direction and we personally pitch to very specific outlets.
In PPP, it may be difficult to have the firm implement such a nuanced and customized service. Their rates are their rates and many will get whatever they can for an author.
Also, it’s important to look at PPP from the publicist’s perspective. Imagine you are a publicist for a PPP firm with several books to promote. You inevitably would gravitate toward putting the most effort into the book you think has the most potential, leaving other books for a lower level of service. It makes business sense.
In a RB program, every book gets the same level of attention based on a detailed proposal commensurate with the author’s goals.
It is planning, strategizing, and cohesive book marketing plan versus fire-away and again, make as much money as possible.
To Be Fair …
Lest this be perceived as a “hit piece” against PPP, it’s important to understand that PPP campaigns can work well for the right author. There are excellent PPP firms in the industry. The key for an author is to understand exactly what she is asking for. Suggestions include putting a cap on what you will spend, and agree to a very defined time limit.
Keep in mind:
- An author should clearly understand what constitutes “coverage.”
- As you can see from the above PPP example, the lines between different types of coverage can be subject to interpretation.
- What exactly is a “feature story,” a “focus,” an actual TV “interview,” or a “mention” in a print outlet?
- What if you get placed on a national daytime talk show, and are only on screen for 30 seconds giving an expert opinion?
- What if your book isn’t mentioned? Your website?
- What if a radio or TV interview is taped but never runs?
In a RB relationship, you must rely on a firm’s history, performance, experience, references, and reputation. If a RB agency has a very strong track record, especially with your type of book, chances are they will perform well for you.
If you want only “home runs,” i.e. national TV and national magazines, and have no other interest in any other type of coverage, you should consider a reputable PPP firm. If they strike out, you don’t pay. Just understand that if they hit some grand slams, you will pay a lot for all the runs they drive in.
4 Things to Have In Place Before Starting a Book Publicity Campaign
by Corinne Liccketto, Sales & Marketing Manager, Smith Publicity, Inc.
Website: Having a website in place prior to launching a book publicity campaign may be the most important element. You should think of your website as your “home base.” Media contacts will often visit an author’s website to learn more information about the book before they initiate a request. Consumers will review an author’s website to see what other readers are saying about the book before they make the purchase. Don’t lose out on any opportunities by not designating a specific website for your project. The six website essentials we recommend for a book/author website are:
- Author bio
- Your bio should include information about your background that relates to your book’s content/storyline.
- Book synopsis
- Reviews page
- The reviews page should be designated to reader reviews and feedback only.
- Press page
- The press page should include links and references to media outlets where information about you and your book have been placed. You should also include your publicist’s contact information. It’s best not to lump reader reviews and press placements together.
- Purchasing information
- We recommend including purchasing information on every page of the website. You never know what information will move a consumer to follow through with the purchase and having a link on every page will make it easier to take the next step.
- Social network connections
- By including icons to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blog, Google+, and any other social network that relates to your book, you’ll encourage website viewers to click through and connect!
Distribution: As your publicist begins to spark awareness for your book, you’ll want to be sure that consumers can take the next step and make the purchase. It’s no secret that you’ll profit more if book buyers purchase through your website; however, it is extremely important to have your book for sale on a trustworthy book-selling site like Amazon.com. Consumers will feel most comfortable inputting their credit card information to a credible a site.
Book (in all formats!): As e-publishing increases in popularity, many authors are publishing a print and eBook edition. Having both formats available by the launch of the publicity campaign will allow you to plug both editions and will give consumers the option to purchase the format of their choice. Lastly, your publicist will likely require review copies on hand for their personal review and to distribute upon media request.
Availability: Many authors who come to us for representation are not fulltime authors and we know that scheduling around their availability is important. However, it is important to communicate your availability to your publicist to make it easy to confirm media opportunities. Remember that if a media contact wants an interview, they’ll be as flexible as possible. Knowing your availability ahead of time will ensure confirmation in a timely fashion.
*Bonus tip: If you plan on traveling for business, pleasure, or personal reasons at any time during your campaign, let your publicist know! If you anticipate any free time during your trip, your publicist may pitch for opportunities within the market where you’ll be traveling. Keep in mind that it is preferable to have a 3-week time period to pitch for opportunities leading up to your arrival.
About Smith Publicity
Beginning in 1997, Smith Publicity has evolved from a one-person operation run from a bedroom office to one of the leading promotional firms in the industry. Fueled by a passion for making good things happen for clients, we’ve worked with over 1,000 individuals and companies—from authors and entrepreneurs to publicly-held companies and business— representing a wide range of industries. The Smith Publicity reach is international; we’ve effectively worked with clients throughout the United States, Canada, the U.K., and from Australia to Israel and Malta. We have offices in New Jersey, New York City, Los Angeles, Toronto and London.
While our expansion from boutique publicity agency to a multi-faceted public relations firm has greatly expanded the breadth of our services, the fundamental driving force behind everything we do is superior presentation, promotion, and positioning of our clients. Our refrain, “make good things happen for clients,” has propelled Smith Publicity from just another agency to a premier promotional firm offering outstanding, cost-effective service with unparalleled customer attention.
Corinne@smithpublicity.com Smith Publicity, Inc. 856.489.8654 ext 309
Mailing Address: 1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003