Claire McKinney has been working in public relations for 20 years. She has appeared on the Today show, and CSPAN as an expert on publishing and she regularly travels to speak to authors and audiences about PR and social media marketing. Authors she has worked with include Della Reese, Toni Morrison, Madeleine Albright, Walter Mosley, Robert Dallek, Rick Moody, George Pelecanos, Plum Sykes, Noam Chomski, Richard North Patterson, and Kristin Gore.
GLVWG’s Emily Thompson spoke with Claire about public relations and what her company can do to help authors.
Emily: What type of services does your public relations firm offer for writers?
Claire: We offer all aspects of public relations including publicity, content marketing, social media, image consulting, messaging, media training and design.
Emily: Does your firm help create an authors platform? How can these help an author reach his/her goals?
Claire: We do help a lot of authors who are being published for the first time and who don’t have name recognition in the consumer world. Creating a social media platform using the right outlets for the author and subject, pitching the author for events, building a blog following for the author through reviews and posts are all ways to help the writer get established. Different people have different goals. Some are looking to generate business for themselves; others are hoping to educate and provide their ideas to the greater conversation regarding an issue; and then there are those people looking to share their imagination and creativity with readers through fiction. In general, all authors would like to sell their books and a thoughtful pr strategy using media relations and the online tools that are available will provide the greatest opportunity for their books to reach a buying audience.
Emily: Do you provide a promotional platform for the author’s use and what would that entail?
Claire: We can create social media sites and design blogs that the author can use. We consult with the author on the overall brand and his/her goals and then work on design accordingly. We also post all of our campaigns on our website with their press releases. We use our social media to promote reviews and attention that our client’s receive and we have a loyal following that supports our clients and their work.
Emily: Does your firm create and or maintain an author’s website or blog site?
Claire: We can create and we do maintain them as well. Two of our current clients who have us do everything from website maintenance to blog writing to social media are related to health care and fashion and design, respectively.
Emily: Who would be working on the author’s platform or campaign?
Claire: I oversee all campaigns and work on the majority of the national mainstream media. All campaigns are executed by a publicist or social media coordinator/manager who has an interest in or has particular success with the topic or genre of the project.
Emily: What sort of authors does your firm represent? A particular genre or nonfiction/fiction? Who are some?
Claire: We represent many different kinds of authors. I have been considered a “fiction expert” over the years, and I will say that as a firm we do well with it on all levels, literary and genre. We have a very strong set of contacts in the mystery/crime/thriller community. On the non-fiction side, we do a lot of health and wellness related topics; science; animals; entertainment; fashion; and a lot of memoirs. We also do children’s books, YA and chapter books especially. Some of the authors I/we have represented include George Pelecanos, Walter Mosley, Robert Dallek, Madeleine Albright, Kristen Gore, Charles Graeber, Melody Beattie, Bill Moyers Jr., Susan Boyer, Wendy Tyson, Gretchen Archer, Charles Salzberg, Brene Brown, Catherine Coulter, Rick Moody, Richard van Anderson, Carrie Rubin, Richard North Patterson, Barbara Ehrenreich, Kym Gold, and Ruth Crocker.
Emily: Do you assist in all types of publications?
Claire: We work with all writers across all types of publications traditional, indie, and self-published.
Emily: How and when do you follow up with any press contact you’ve established for the author?
Claire: Some people we pitch directly prior to sending copies of the author’s books. For books we send unsolicited, we follow up by email and by phone depending on the contact’s preferences (bloggers rarely want to speak on the phone, but they do respond to emails if they are interested). We tend to follow up when we think books have hit desks which is usually two to three weeks after they are mailed if sent by media mail, and two weeks if they are sent priority. Some of these people get hundreds of books a week, and we need to give them time to open their packages! With media outlets we feel should be covering a specific title or author, we can be relentless with follow up in order to get to “yes.”
Claire McKinney is a twenty-year veteran of the publishing industry. She has worked for major publishers, including Little, Brown and Company, Putnam, and Disney Publishing. Claire has appeared on CSPAN and the Today Show as an expert on self-publishing. Her clients have included Della Reese, Madeleine Albright, James Patterson, Walter Mosley, Robert Dallek, Rick Moody, George Pelecanos, Kristin Gore, and Quick and Dirty Tips. She travels regularly to speak to authors and audiences about book promotion, publishing, and social media marketing.
Claire will be at the 2018 GLVWG Write Stuff Conference™, Saturday March 24, to offer advice on author PR strategies (advance registration required).
Visit her at www.clairemckinneypr.com.
Emily Thompson has been many things in her lifetime, currently works in a doctor’s office, and held many different jobs unrelated to writing. She has written for pleasure for many years with small successes, and published short stories in the GLVWG Anthology for years 2014, 2015, and 2016. In 2015, Emily published a short story in ‘Women Who Write’ publication, Goldfinch.
When asked why she writes, though it frustrates and vexes Emily to no end, it gives her great pleasure, and allows her to explore the world she lives in through life’s experiences.