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The Changing Media Landscape: Bad News for Authors and Book Publicists

Many believe the printed newspaper is dying a slow, painful, inevitable death. Since 2008, the presses at hundreds of newspapers have stopped forever. Many venerable print magazines have closed their doors. After 32 years of publishing Southern Accents, Time. Inc. shut it down. Ziff Davis stopped publishing PC Magazine after 27 years, and Conde Nast closed the doors on Gourmet Magazine, published since 1941. Additionally, start-up publications routinely shut  down before they print their third issue. In the broadcast world, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Disney/ABC TV group just recently eliminated 175 positions. Clear Channel, the largest radio station operator in the country, has been trimming staff and eliminating positions since 2012. Websites have emerged to chronicle the ongoing collapse of traditional media:www.MagazineDeathPool.com,www.NewspaperDeathWatch.com are just a few examples.Times are indeed changing in the media world. The Digital Revolution has turned the media landscape into a new, vastly different one. For authors and book marketers, the question is: What does this change mean? Is it good or bad for authors seeking exposure? For book publicists, does it make our jobs easier or harder?

A shrinking traditional media would seem to be bad news for authors and the publicists promoting their books. Fewer outlets equates to fewer opportunities for coverage. It’s only common sense.

However, the fact is, most of the changes in the media are actually good for book marketing agencies and authors alike. Consider the trimmed-down staffs at print outlets; this presents a great opportunity for authors to get publicity. Smaller staffs mean outlets have fewer writers, and therefore need more pre-packaged publicity material to help do their jobs. For example, at Smith Publicity, we’ve had tremendous success pitching byline articles to newspapers and magazines.These articles, written by the author of a particular book, are ready-to-go informational and how-to pieces with great content. They are not promotional, but include the author’s book information and website, etc. at the end of the piece. The short-staffed print outlet gets great material, and the author gets publicity.

Radio and TV show producers, operating with fewer support staff, are readily accepting well-crafted and professionally presented pitches from book publicists. The “art of the pitch” has evolved so we provide exactly what a producer is looking for, and present show/interview ideas. Less research is required by producers, and again, book publicists help them do their job.There’s another reason why the news is good. The shrinking traditional media has given rise to a huge boom in online media and news oriented websites, creating enormous opportunities. Some magazines have shut down their print versions, but remain online. After 80 years, Newsweek published its last print issue in December 2012, switching to an online only format, according to The Independent. Many news-oriented sites have emerged as powerful tools for authors looking for exposure. We routinely have our authors covered on online news websites including book promotion Huffington Post, Forbes.com and TheStreet.com. Online, there are no space limitations. Instead of a major print magazine limited to a few feature stories, there’s far greater flexibility online—and the content is searchable and therefore can be more valuable, lasting far longer than a discarded newspaper or magazine.

In addition, most newspapers and magazines still in print have online versions of their publications. The online versions include material in the printed versions, and much more, often inviting readers to comment and easily share articles via email and social media.

Publicity has always been about helping media representatives do their jobs by presenting good material for articles, interviews and all types of coverage. It is the classic “you scratch their back …” scenario, and it hasn’t changed.

The media needs publicists and authors more than ever.

By Dan Smith, Founder/CEO of Smith Publicity, Inc.

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