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  • Writer's pictureAndrea McKinnon

October 6, 2023


We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Andrea McKinnon. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Andrea below.

Andrea, looking forward to learning from your journey. You’ve got an amazing story and before we dive into that, let’s start with an important building block. Where do you get your work ethic from? Work ethic – for some this might be a subjective term and there is a broad spectrum of what one may consider a “good” or “bad” work ethic. I have to credit my awareness of and dedication to a “good” work ethic to how I was raised, my parents & teachers, as well as the mentors I had in my early career opportunities. I was fortunate to have had bosses who were inspirational, supportive, and constructive teachers who really wanted to help me grow and succeed. I also experienced truly awful and emotionally abusive bosses who had an equally strong impact on figuring out the type of businesswoman and manager I wanted to become.

Appreciate the insights and wisdom. Before we dig deeper and ask you about the skills that matter and more, maybe you can tell our readers about yourself? With 30+ years of experience in PR, both as an independent contractor and in-house executive, and working with a really diverse clientele, I am super honed in on the who, what, and why of clients I’ll work with now. I had the great fortune to start my career in Chicago working with up and coming talent, some of who are now superstars – Halle Barre, Timothy Meadows, Lawrence Zarian – to name just a few. I took a chance and moved to LA where I eventually landed at NBC network television during the illustrious “Must See TV” 90s. That was the best foundation one could ever hope for to build a career. I really feel that publicity/PR is the best job in “the biz.” It can be challenging for sure, but it allows me to be creative, collaborative, and exercise skills I really enjoy – writing, editing, negotiating, networking, and so on. I now only work with people and projects that align with my work ethic and based on mutual respect and professional understanding. They can span entertainment (TV/film), entrepreneurism, consumer products, or books & authors. I won’t ever take a project “just for the money” if it isn’t a good fit. All of my clients come to me as referrals and the majority have had bad experiences with PR agencies or publicists in the past. What I love most is disproving that negative stigma, often very well deserved. I’m proud that the referrals keep coming and truly do love what I do!

Looking back, what do you think were the three qualities, skills, or areas of knowledge that were most impactful in your journey? What advice do you have for folks who are early in their journey in terms of how they can best develop or improve on these?

1. Integrity

2. Balance – manage your time, stay organized

3. Believe in yourself & the job


The foundation of a good work ethic is integrity. Harkening back to one boss I had, in my earliest days in the entertainment industry, who told me: “leave your morals at home!” This has stuck with me for 30+ years. At that moment, I remember thinking – if this is what it takes to get ahead in this business, I may have to forego those big executive titles or what most consider success.

My advice, stick to your morals and integrity! Integrity means being responsible, working hard & well, being honest, being a good teammate, showing humility, taking criticism, and learning from one’s mistakes!

Balance – I never wanted to sacrifice a happy marriage or becoming a mother for my career. I did/do have it all – and don’t feel that I missed anything in the process. I chose to compartmentalize work & private life very early on; not always easy in “Hollywood.” For anyone to have a partner, hobbies, outside interests, friends, whatever is important to them – you must find balance. Structure/manage your time – on AND off the clock.

Believe in yourself & the job – you can always sell/accomplish something best if you believe in it. If you don’t 100% of the time, believe in your ability to do the best you can with the tools you are given. Confidence and perseverance go a long way.

How can folks who want to work with you connect? The nature of my business is relationship building (including maintaining those relationships) and networking. Therefore, I am always looking to collaborate or connect with other likeminded people. I’ve always believed that one should never burn bridges, and have tried to mentor with that philosophy. You never know when you are going to run into, work with, need, or meet someone you’ve crossed paths with in the past. This is especially true in the entertainment industry and when you make it a priority when networking. Being able to share knowledge, make introductions, and help others is one of the most fulfilling feelings I get from my work community. Often a client isn’t right for me and I need to recommend another PR specialist; sometimes a friend or colleague is looking to connect with someone in an area of expertise that a client I worked with is in; or sometimes you just know when two people will benefit from knowing each other! I’m always looking to grow and expand and learn so encourage anyone to reach out via my website or social media channels (LinkedIn, IG or Facebook).

Contact Info:

  • Website: www.amckpr.com

  • Instagram: www.instagram.com/amckpr1

  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AMcKPR

  • Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/andrea.mckinnon

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(Scroll down to "Investigate" for my expert input.)



Thank you to the many book promotion professionals who shared tips for aspiring authors with me! In Part One, read about treating your book launch like a campaign with consistent social media and a newsletter.

GOALS MATTER

Kathleen Schmidt told me to write down clear goals for my book. Schmidt said, “When I have an initial call with potential clients, I ask them what their goals are. If you are an author, having realistic goals is healthy. Goals like “get on the New York Times bestseller list” or “get my book picked for Reese’s Book Club” are pie-in-the-sky and not easily attainable. Start with small, achievable goals like getting a bylined piece you wrote published, so you gain name recognition.” I agree that setting expectations can really help. When I started my YouTube channel, I was happy with every small win. I celebrated when I reached 100 views and then 1000 views and now I have nearly two million views on my videos! It is important to recognize our accomplishments. I am excited that I have a book and cannot wait for my upcoming launch!

BE A GREAT GUEST

Stand out in today’s noisy world as a guest on a podcast. Liz H Kelly recommends that authors focus on a targeted podcast campaign to reach readers. Kelly told me that “one of the best things is to invest time in a podcast campaign to reach your niche audience. Start at least 3 months in advance of your book launch, search for top podcasts and pitch the hosts with a personalized email. Find podcasts that have a similar audience as your book, and actually listen to an episode before pitching. After an interview is secured, ask the host if they can publish it close to your book launch date, so you have a burst of PR to promote sales.” I love being a guest on podcasts and I even started my own podcast called Make Your Own Map in December 2022. So far people are listening from 36 countries on 6 continents.


MAKE YOUR OWN MAGIC

Joseph Pastrana practices what he preaches and tells authors to “start contacting organizations, book stores, anything relatable to the subject of your book about an appearance, reading, book signing. I have been hosted by different types of organizations including a menswear shop. It’s always important to go out and try. Once you book an event, you can parlay that to more coverage by reading out to media that cover appearances.” Joseph said, “hire a professional that knows the “who” and “how” and even “when” to reach the appropriate media to help with publicity for the book.

Laurie Graff agrees that there is nothing like an in-person event to engage a reader with you and your brand. While an author can arrange their own event or signing at a local bookstore or thematically related venue. Graff wants authors to ask themselves, “Who will relentlessly promote the event? Who will take photo-ops of the author with their strategically placed book and send it out to local media? A publicist can elevate the author from writer to expert, to make them a newsworthy interview across all platforms.”


Desiree Duffy, Founder of Black Château, Books That Make You and The BookFest told me that “speaking at events has evolved into an array of opportunities for authors. Virtual events give us a platform as well as real life events. Plus, there are many hybrid options with live events offering livestreaming and recordings to those who can’t attend in person. This means authors have more options than ever before to reach a wider audience. The BookFest, for example, reaches people from all over the world with impressions in the millions. One could never pack that many folks into a room at an in real life conference. Yet, the networking and ability to connect with others in person can never be totally replaced. I recommend authors to do both types of events if possible. And when it comes to speaking, being able to deliver an array of topics and types of talks is valuable. You never know what an event producer might be looking for, so you should be prepared to offer an array of options. Consider homing your speaking skills when it comes to doing readings, speaking on panels, offering workshops or demonstrations, participating in conversations or interviews, and delivering keynote addresses.” In fact, I will be a featured author at The BookFest on Saturday Oct 21! I had reached out to Desiree to learn more about her project and asked to be considered!

I agree with Desiree that “speaking at events helps authors elevate their areas of expertise. It can have a big impact on their business and personal brand. When an author speaks, they are seen not only by readers, but other event producers, media and press, potential collaborators, and even film and TV production companies, directors and producers. One of our first BookFests led to a participating author getting a film deal for his book series. By putting yourself out there, wonderful things can happen.” Now cross your fingers for me about what will happen when I speak at BookFest this year!

If you are still wondering about if you need a professional, Justin Loeber CEO of Mouth Digital + Public Relations explains, “Just like a real estate broker is the go-between the buyer and seller, the publicist brokers media. And if you could call Oprah on a Monday and book an interview on a Tuesday, there would be no industry called PR.”


DO THE WORK

Christine Chitnis’ “number one tip for authors is to plan to invest as much time and effort into the marketing and publicity of their book as they did into writing their book.” I agree with her that “the workload involved with the publicity push often comes as a surprise to authors, as they expect their publisher to do the heavy lifting. However, a successful campaign depends greatly on the author’s efforts and the leveraging of their personal network. A good campaign needs a broad and deep approach.”

Chitnis recommends “pursuing a multi-prong approach that includes: social media, print, TV, radio and digital press, podcasts, events, brand partnerships, speaking gigs, and more!” If you feel exhausted just hearing that list, she told me, “that’s why you might consider hiring a professional; to help with the planning, organization, communication and outreach necessary to pull off a broad, deep publicity campaign which will not only sell books but also broaden their client’s overall brand awareness. A professional will also have their own network to leverage, and that can only help!”


INVESTIGATE

Invest in your success by spending time online. Andrea McKinnon told me that “one of the benefits of the Internet is the limitless, really infinite, wealth of knowledge and resources. It may take some effort but one can really hone in on websites, outlets, podcasts, writers whose “beat” covers the genre, themes or topic of your book. Steampunk? Cookbook? Self-help? Poetry? no matter the subject, there is a community writing and talking about it! The vast majority of publications & outlets have information on how to contact them – just follow their rules & suggestions!”


DO NOT WAIT

Start promoting your book EARLY! Janet Appel explained that many reviewers have a lead time of four to six months especially the trade reviewers like Publishers Weekly and Library Journal and most print magazines.

Appel believes that authors need to be on the social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn as well as the media sharing networks like Instagram, TikTok and YouTube AND the discussion forums like Reddit, Digg and Hive. I am on all of the social and media sharing networks I can think of but Appel was the first one to recommend the discussion forums to me. She recommended using all of your platforms to “amplify the visibility and awareness of a brand, book, individual” as well as working with a seasoned professional to take advantage of all opportunities.


HOW DO I GET SALES?

Every author wants to sell more books. Appel told me that in order to drive book sales, you must target the right audience for your book. “It’s really a combination of book signings, obtaining book reviews, media coverage in magazines and newspapers, TV appearances, radio and podcast interviews, digital outlets, relevant websites, blogs, Amazon reviews, blogger reviews, virtual book tours, a powerful book trailer on the author’s website, social media, consistent speaking engagements to target audiences, live videos on Facebook, blog posts to your website and LinkedIn, SEO ranking (i.e., using keywords that your target audience will likely search for) and making sure that the book can be preordered. These are some of the key factors that will drive book sales!” I am working on many of these and I will keep you posted how that turns out for my book, Brave-ish, One Breakup, Six Continents and Feeling Fearless After Fifty. You can check out my progress and make sure that I update my events page for my book launch!

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  • Writer's pictureAndrea McKinnon

March 12, 2021

PRontheGO - The Creative Entrepreneur’s source for PR hacks. www.PRontheGO.com 4 hours ago·6 min read

PRontheGO: 10 Myths About Public Relations: Busted

We asked PR and growth experts: What are myths about Public Relations and common misconceptions amongst founders? What is myth, and what is reality? Here are the top 10 PR myths busted:

PR Myth #1 PR is just press releases.

Warren H. Cohn, Founder and CEO of HeraldPR:

“We have had many clients over the years who think that we just draft a couple of press releases and that will get them into the news. In reality, earning media coverage takes considerable effort and requires pitching the news story as if it was a sale, with the journalist being the buyer. Press releases are good for sharing events or big news and they have their place, but there’s no replacing strategically pitching journalists and leveraging relationships with the press to earn media coverage.”

PR Myth #2 PR makes you famous overnight.

Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO at Mavens & Moguls:

“There are no short cuts, getting great PR won’t make your company famous overnight, it takes time to build stories/establish credibility/ emotionally connect with audiences. The messaging must be authentic/relevant don’t be tone deaf or you risk diluting your brand. Green washing and woke washing will backfire today. The value of press and getting links is much bigger after the media hits since very few people see it in real time. There are so many media outlets today looking for fresh content so find creative ways to leverage your thought leadership.”

PR Myth #3 PR twists the truth in story telling

Jennifer L. Horspool, Owner at Engagement PR & Marketing:

“One of the most common myths I hear about Public Relations is that we’re “spin-doctors,” indicating we twist the truth in story telling. Nothing could be further from the truth in my practice and in every company I’ve ever worked for or done business with. The Truth: we do try to present our clients and their brands in the best light, and to do that, transparency and honesty is a must. No one wants egg on their face. It’s better to share bad news, apologize to those harmed — if harm was done or perceived to have occurred — show you care, and lay out a plan to right the wrong or put policies in place that minimize the wrong from ever happening again.”

PR Myth #4 You’re published because the PR is friends with the reporter.

Jonathon Narvey, Founder & CEO at Mind Meld PR Inc.:

“A very common myth: you get news coverage because you have relationships with reporters. Now, I’m not saying that never happens. But it does not guarantee news coverage. Let’s say you pitch a reporter. They happen to note it’s from your email address — and they know you. Great! You’ve just bought yourself an extra five seconds of extra consideration. But is your story actually newsworthy? Do they often cover this kind of topic? Have you fed them the exact information they need? If so, you can get the win, even if this is the first time you’ve ever pitched them.”

PR Myth #5 PR generates sales

Andrea McKinnon, Owner at AMcK PR, Inc.:

“Myth [and Reality] — PR generates sales. PR’s traditional function is not to increase sales through advertisements or paid marketing. Even though the gap between marketing and public relations overlaps now more than ever, they can work as a holistic and creative force in tandem. PR can result in sales when the brand is unique and press worthy, of course. A campaign that’s developed and executed well can be extraordinarily valuable [or it can do absolutely nothing] for the client’s bottom line. A sales and marketing strategy must be in place to capitalize on any PR successes, otherwise sales are not likely to happen.”

PR Myth #6 PR means posting about product benefits and advantages for free.

Elina Kochenko, PR specialist at Genesis Investments:

“PR reality: PR means getting free publicity for the expertise of founders, meaningful startup news, and emotional stories. Getting publicity for a product benefits alone is called an ad. And it’s not free. Of course, your product is the best and you know all its market advantages. But that cannot be the key message of the story in most cases. It always takes more than an awesome product to hook a journalist. You have to offer a story that hits trends or brings value to the reader. Example: Let’s imagine you are the founder of an EdTech start-up with an ecosystem of several apps for children. It would be a misconception to believe that many media outlets would be eager to write that parents should bring all the money to you right away because apps that you have are so fascinating. Mike Kotlov, who is the co-founder and CEO of entertainment & education platform IntellectoKids, shared an expert industry overview instead of just promoting his product. This is a good example of understanding that PR is not working as a tool to post ad-like content only for free. To get published with fascinating apps but without massive news behind them at the moment, you need to offer some extra value to the reader.”

PR Myth #7 Any press is good press.

Abby Herman, Director of Strategy at Snap Agency:

“There are a lot of myths surrounding all things PR, that range from “it’s expensive”, to “I don’t need a PR since I don’t have a story” One huge myth (and potentially harmful to your business) is “any press is good press”. This is not only not true and is also not good. A customer is more likely to spread how BAD your product or service is than how good it is. So if you get bad press, you will need to spend a lot of time on crisis management, or you will not have your brand and business damaged.”

PR Myth #8 Audience size is the most important factor.

Jakub Zajicek, Co-Founder & CMO at Speak On Podcasts:

“Podcast PR is becoming an increasingly more relevant strategy. Yet, the common misconception is that audience size is the most important factor — it’s not. What really matters is how relevant your message is to the listener. We experienced that speaking to an audience of just 300 of our ideal customers translated into more revenue than speaking to 10’s of thousands of people who weren’t the perfect fit.”

PR Myth #9 PR is for celebrities

Monika Bochenek, Public Relations & Marketing Manager at UWWWEB:

“One myth I am always faced with is that only businesses or individuals with “celebrity status” need public relations management or advice. This is completely untrue. In fact, the majority of individuals and/or businesses who should be seeking public relations management, are those with small and growing brands. Every dollar counts for individuals and businesses, big or small. Having a sector to public relations in a business gives customers a sense of trust, and builds credibility for your brand, without spending too much of your marketing budget. Public relations is not just about shedding light on big topics; public relations is about growing an image and creating trust. New and growing businesses can utilize public relations to bring them that ‘celebrity status’ level that everyone reaches for.”

PR Myth #10 Never pitch to a journalist on a Friday.

Karol Nowacki, Search Acquisition Manager at Tidio Chatbots:

“Modern PR is enveloped in myths of all kinds. While some do not present a big issue to companies, certain “fake tactics” should be avoided. One of the common misconceptions is “Never pitch to a journalist on a Friday”.. Our experience shows that it is indeed a myth — there are no bad days to pitch to journalists. In fact, Friday or the weekend is even better sometimes as there is much less competition in the journalists’ inboxes, which helps to jump the queue on a Monday morning!”

Thank you!

…………..

PRontheGO.com — The Creative Entrepreneur’s source for PR hacks.

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