SYP Conference: Marketing and Publicity

Posted on November 29, 2008 in Uncategorized

In the Publicity and Marketing workshop at this year’s conference, Claire Morrison, Senior Marketing Executive for CCV at Random House, and Truda Spruyt, Associate Director at Colman Getty, shared their expertise.

     Claire began the workshop by defining marketing as “informing the target market that a particular book is available, and influencing them to purchase it”. This involves looking at the 4 Ps: Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Claire explained that marketing is broadly split into two phases: The sell-in and the sell-out. The sell-in refers to marketing the books to the retailer and the sell-out refers to marketing the books to the consumer. Claire looked at the various ways books are promoted from general press, magazine and TV advertising to competitions and point of sale marketing. Focusing on the theme of the conference, she also explored the increasing use of online marketing to help sell books. The advantage of online marketing is that it can target specific audiences easily. It can include advertorials, sponsorship, and even use of video and sound, which makes the internet an exciting marketing tool. Claire told us some very revealing online facts such as that 78% of people have bought books due to reading recommendations off websites and that people spend, on average, 13-17 minutes on social networking sites, 4 times longer than any other site. If they can be used effectively, social networks like Myspace and Facebook are useful ways of marketing books.
     Claire also looked specifically at her own campaign for Jo Nesbo’s “Nemesis”. She told us how mobile technology was experimented with, advertising a “get the first chapter free to your mobile phone” deal on posters at railway stations. Another innovative use of online marketing by Random House was inspired by their business book “Crowdsourcing”, about the power of the crowd. The marketing department used the central concept of the book, the power of the crowd, to help promote it, asking the “crowd” to design the cover via a website. At first, interest in the site was slow but, once bloggers started writing about it, interest significantly increased and, by the end, there were over 300 entries and people voted online for the winner. As online marketing is a relatively new phenomenon, Claire explained it can be rather hit and miss. But the rewards for experimentation can be great and it is going to be a valuable way of promoting books in the future.
      To conclude, Claire gave an overview of why marketing can be a great career choice in publishing. Marketing is all about creativity, variety, communication (both internally and externally) and, crucially, looking at the bigger picture.
     Truda Spruyt then spoke about her perspective on publicity. Truda has over 15 years experience in publicising arts, literary and cultural projects. Her company works on many publishing related campaigns including the promotion of JK Rowling, Nigella Lawson and Cherie Blair, as well as events like World Book Day.
     Truda explained that, although the general perceived difference between marketing and publicity is that publicity is promoting for free, there is more to it than that. Publicity is essentially about maximum exposure; getting the message across to as many people as possible. Timing, Truda explained, is crucial. Telling your media contacts the right thing at the right time is hugely important. Planning ahead is also essential as some magazines need to be approached as much as 6 months in advance. Of course, online promotion is useful in the respect that it can appear almost immediately on the internet. The web can also be valuable with authors who don’t come across very well on television or radio. Online author Q and A sessions, for example, can give a better public image of an author.  
     Truda stressed that, although publicity has changed with advances in technology, the personal touch is still important: “It is so easy to delete an email but much harder to cut someone off on the phone”. In the world of publicity, personal communication is essential to success. In conclusion, Truda stressed the need to be creative and make a campaign stand out from the crowd, whichever media you are using to put your message across.
     In the following question and answer session, many interesting questions were asked, including “How useful are author blogs?”(good for tapping a fan base but need to be regularly updated) and “What about Second Life?” (complicated to use so the market reached is negligible). Overall the feeling seemed to be that new technology is great for marketing if you can find the right way to use it.