Peri Wilson answers: What does a publicist do?

Towards the latter part of your publishing journey – as editing is well underway – you will be introduced to your Publicist. What does this working relationship entail?

Put simply, your Publicist will help you find your readers! 

A Publicist’s role is to help you articulate the ‘story’ of your book, so you can in turn articulate it to media and readers.

One of the first things your Publicist may ask you is where the idea came from. Is there a kernel of truth buried somewhere? Perhaps real-life events inspired the story? How will you articulate the broader themes and ideas your work explores? What does your work say about society?

The Publicist will help you shape your inspiration, personal story or themes into topical, insightful and interesting media talking points. This will allow us to reach as broad an audience as possible. The most successful PR campaigns are the ones that live outside of the literary pages and programs – and to do this, they need to be clever and relevant to what’s happening in the world.

Your publicist becomes an in-house and external champion for your book. They will work alongside you to shape a press campaign that positions you as a bold new voice in the Australian literary scene, and your work as the must-read book of the year. One of the ways they do this is by targeting key media, influencers and thinkers and sending them advanced copies of the book. These advances then facilitate extracts, interviews, reviews and social media mentions. Your publicist will contact all of the key players in the book industry and offer them compelling reasons to cover you or your work.

As the campaign evolves, your Publicist will work closely with you to determine what media will be best suited to cover your story. Which media are covering stories like yours? Are there different angles for different outlets? Your PR will have an excellent understanding of the Australian media landscape, and most importantly – the demographic of the outlets they are pitching to. It is more important than ever to make sure you know who you’re speaking to and tailor your pitch to them accordingly. You can’t take a one size fits all approach in media campaigns.

The best advice I can give to any upcoming authors is to start thinking about the story behind your work. Read the media – not just the literary pages. You will start to notice television interviews, hear radio and read opinion pieces, and realise that many of them are book related PR. If possible – attend some literary events. Listen to Conversations with Richard Fidler. What is it about these interviews that makes them so compelling? How will you articulate your story in a manner that makes people desperate to get their hands on a copy?!

Peri Wilson, Head of Publicity, Allen & Unwin