Interview with Joan Stewart, The Publicity Hound

1Joan Stewart headshot 180 by 180Today I am pleased to welcome Joan Stewart, well known as The Publicity Hound, to the blog. Joan is a publicity, marketing and PR expert. She helps get products, services and books in front of as many people as possible. Many of the resources Joan offers are free and easy to implement, such as the hints and tips she suggests in her twice weekly e-mail newsletter.  I recommend you subscribe here. Thank you for taking part Joan, let’s begin the interview:

I see on your blog that you were a newspaper editor before a Publicity Hound. What was it that caused the job change?

By the mid-80s, it was apparent that the newspaper industry was marching toward the graveyard. I also disliked working in an industry in which customer service was always at the bottom of the priority list. I loved writing and editing the news. But eventually, by the 90s, that turned into a job in which I did little more than cut budgets and lay off reporters, and hear people who didn’t get their paper gripe that there was no one in the Circulation Department to take complaints on Sunday morning, when we sold the greatest number of papers.

 

Since starting your business have you always been known as The Publicity Hound and how did you decide on that name?

One of the first books I read when I started my own business was Marcia Yudkin’s book “6 Steps to Free Publicity.” One of her chapter titles is “The Publicity Hound.” I can remember thinking, “Clever.”

About a year later, when I decided to publish a print newsletter, I needed a name. “The Publicity Hound” popped into my mind one afternoon while I was walking. The print newsletter eventually bled red ink. It morphed into an ezine, and that morphed into twice-a-week snack-size email tips. People kept commenting about the name “The Publicity Hound” and how it was such a memorable name and a great brand. Media Relations Consulting Inc. (big yawn) became “dba The Publicity Hound.” I got a trademark for “The Publicity Hound” and now use it exclusively.

 

As an editor and publicist you write a great deal. Have you ever considered writing any fiction?

Never! I wouldn’t know where to begin. Besides, I know how much work book marketing is, particularly for fiction. I decided long ago to forego the print book and concentrate instead on much more profitable info-products.

 

What is the biggest difference you’ve made to someone’s marketing campaign?

This happened so long ago that I can’t even remember my customer’s name. She wanted to know how to get into the Wall Street Journal to promote a cause or issue she was behind. I suggested the easiest way: write a letter to the editor, and I explained how to write it. The WSJ loved the letter so much that they contacted her, asked her for an interview, and wrote an article about her cause that appeared on Page 1.

 

In your 20 years of offering publicity advice, is there one thing you’ve done/advised someone about, that you are particularly proud of?

Yes. Convincing small business owners, authors, speakers and experts to learn how to do email marketing. Building an email list of people who raise their hands and say, “Yes, you have permission to market to me” is far more profitable than blogging or social media.

1 Joan's Email cheat Sheet pic for opt-in pageI began email marketing shortly after I started my business almost two decades ago. Since then, it has made me hundreds of thousands of dollars in product sales, speaking engagements, consulting and my mentor program. No  other marketing strategy or tactic comes closes to delivering those results. If you’re thinking to yourself, “But what would I write about that isn’t in my book?” I urge you to grab my free cheat sheet on “10 Profitable Ways to Use Email to Create SuperFans Who Help You Sell Books.” It’s at http://publicityhound.com/go/email-cheat-sheet-for-authors-2 You’ll also start receiving my twice-a-week email tips.

 

Is there one question you get asked more than any other about publicity/PR?

“How do I find my target market, and once I find them, how do I get their attention?” The really frightening question is, and I swear I’m not making this up, “Who is my target market?” When someone whose book already has been published or whose product already has been manufactured, asks me that question, I shudder. How can you write a book if you don’t know who you’re writing for? How can you create a product if you don’t know who will be using it?

 

As an author I have many different roles – writer, editor, publisher and promoter. Juggling all these elements can be hard work. What is the main tip you can give authors who are new to marketing?

Always have a coach or mentor, particularly in areas where you’re weak. Always  be learning. That can include mastermind groups or investing in in-depth training programs online. Also, look for joint venture partners: people whose audiences need what you offer. Authors don’t want to hear this. But marketing their books is far more difficult than writing them. When an author asks, “How long do I have to market my book?” my answer is always the same: Only for a long as you want to sell it.”

 

1Joan and Bogie portrait croppedI read you newsletters each week and like the mixture of topics. How do you manage to find enough quality content for two newsletters a week?

I’m a scanner. I scan blogs. I subscribe to a lot of email newsletters and a variety of online content. I know within seconds whether it’s something my audience wants or needs. Many of my readers are so loyal that they send tips my way, including hysterical dog videos. I feature one funny video in each issue and thank my readers publicly. It helps create a community. If you publish a newsletter, involve your readers! They love to see their names in your emails.

 

This blog is being improved thanks to the templates put together by yourself and Joel Friedlander.You recommend blogs as important marketing tools for authors. What is the main reason for that?

You own the property. Period.

You can spend years building thousands of followers and fans on Facebook and, within a few seconds, have Facebook close down your account for no reason at all. Same with YouTube. Same with Twitter. And Instagram. And LinkedIn. I recommend WordPress because it’s easy, it gives you lots of options. If you run into a problem, you can swing a dead cat over your head on Main Street at 3 a.m. and find somebody who knows how to use it and help you out of a jam.

Make sure it’s self-hosted. That means you do not want WordPress to host it and give you a website address that looks like this: http://www.MyWebsite.Wordpress.com or http://www.MyWebsite.Blogger.com. Find a private hosting company. I love Net10.net because the owner has top-notch customer service and answers my calls and emails quickly.

 

Is there one publicity/marketing mistake you see authors make more than any other? If so, what is it? (So I can avoid it!)

This one is huge and it makes me scream. Nine out of 10 authors are guilty. No phone number, email address or mailing address in an easy-to-find place on their homepage. Don’t make reporters who want to interview hunt around for your phone number! They won’t bother. They’ll leave. Don’t make someone who wants to mail you a check for your book wonder where to send it. It’s a lot easier for them to buy someone else’s book.

Can I mention another?

When seeking publicity, many authors put the emphasis on themselves instead of explaining the benefits of their book to the reader. Here’s an example. Let’s say you’ve written a book on how to do your own simple home plumbing repairs. Most people would start a press release by saying, “Joe Fixit is pleased to announce his new book called…”

No one cares about you. They care about their leaking toilet that’s been driving them crazy. Instead, make it: “Homeowners who can’t afford to hire a plumber for simple repairs can save hundreds of dollars by doing it themselves, thanks to simple step-by-step directions in the new book “Plumbing 101: What Your Plumber Wishes You Didn’t Know.”

If you’re a fiction author, the emphasis should be on the emotion that your book evokes. I also recommend that both fiction and nonfiction authors include a phrase in their marketing materials that defines the target market for the book. A children’s author might say, “This picture book is for children ages 4 to 8.”

The narrower your target market, the easier it is to reach them. Authors who have the biggest problem marketing are those who think their book is for “everybody.”

1Joan headerThank you for answering my questions Joan and for including some invaluable hints and tips for all us authors.

If you would like to explore more of what Joan can help with then visit her site here. You can also find her on:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/publicityhound.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/PublicityHound.
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/publicityhound/.

I hope everyone had a peaceful Christmas and happy new year. As always, thank you for reading.

Best wishes,

Mark.

 

 

9 thoughts on “Interview with Joan Stewart, The Publicity Hound

  1. Pingback: Publicity Hound Dog Tweets of the Week

    • Hi Joan,

      Thank you for answering my questions and including the post in your newsletter.
      Your answers have got a lot of positive responses across social media.

      Mark.

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  3. Quote:
    “How do I find my target market, and once I find them, how do I get their attention?” The really frightening question is, and I swear I’m not making this up, “Who is my target market?” When someone whose book already has been published or whose product already has been manufactured, asks me that question, I shudder. How can you write a book if you don’t know who you’re writing for? How can you create a product if you don’t know who will be using it?”
    ——————————-

    “Who is my target market?” is a question I still ask myself every single day, almost four years after publishing my first book. I feel I’m getting closer to the answer, but I still don’t think I HAVE the answer.

    So, how can I write a book if I don’t know who I’m writing for? Well, when I wrote my first book, there was only one person who I was writing for: me. I wasn’t thinking of marketing it back then; I was far too green.

    With each new book, I think more and more before I release it about who I expect would be interested in it (and thus, who my target market is), and naturally more and more of that consideration informs how I write. Ultimately, though, I write to be read by whomever decides they might like to read me. I don’t HAVE a “target market”.

    Am I alone in this?

    To be honest, I find that “how can you” question rather offensive. Books are not “products” to be “used”. They’re works of art to be enjoyed. Sure, if we want to make a living with that art, we need to approach our marketing from the angle that our books ARE products, but I can’t imagine a time when that process won’t be incredibly painful for me to do, and I don’t think an artist can ever be expected to think that way.

    • Hi Graham,

      I thought your response to Joan’s point was an interesting one. I write first and foremost because I enjoy it, but also because I hope other people will like what I’ve written. I see my target audience as readers of mystery, thrillers and suspense. I aim my promo at those readers by joining Facebook and Google+ groups and using hashtags. I also believe that writers and readers may view a book in different ways. Sure, most readers will appreciate the hard work that goes into writing a book, but at the end of the day it is a product they have paid for, for their enjoyment.

      • You’re right, of course. In order for you to effectively market your book, you must be prepared to see it as a product, and you must be able to have a clearly defined target audience (for me, that is “People who read multi-genre stories – or people who like to read stories across the genre spectrum – and who enjoy shorter reads. But that’s already way too broad of a target, from a marketing perspective).

        I just don’t think it’s natural for any artist to think that way. In fact, it’s pretty unnatural, difficult, and downright painful, for an artist to have to reduce their labour of love down to this level. I’m getting better at doing it, as I said, but it will never become second nature to me.

        I wonder how painters and sculptors do it. I have a friend who creates Orthodox Christian Ikons for a living. SHE has to convince people to buy her work, too.

        Or musicians. They’re not particularly good at this, either. I suppose the music industry is different, because record labels have become VERY good at marketing… much better than corporate book publishers are, at any rate. But still, I’m sure the artist (unless he’s indie, in which case I’m sure he finds it very difficult) stays out of decisions around marketing, target markets, and the like. :-/

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