How I Learned Book PR and the Media Game the Hard Way: Reviews, Articles, Letters and More About A World Flight Over Russia
by Brad Butler, Founder of E.B. GO Vision Media
In 1998, after four years of back-breaking work, two years writing and two years finding a publisher, my first book, A World Flight Over Russia, hit the bookshelves from Wind Canyon Publishing, a terrific aviation publisher still run by George Jaquith. Having gone through the Herculean task of writing my first book and getting it published, I found myself facing the more daunting, and perplexing, task of having to market and get media exposure for an “Aviation Adventure.” Right out of the gate, I got extremely lucky by getting myself booked on the Art Bell Radio Show, then one of the biggest syndicated shows on the air with nearly 10-million weekly listeners. But soon it became obvious, from unsuccessful conversations with media people, that I had to come up with different angles for different media outlets and make the book and my story with it EXCITING and different. Equally clear was that the window of opportunity to pitch any story idea to the andy media outlet was short and the longer the conversation went on the less likely the pitch would be successful. In other words, since email pitches were in the infancy stages, the order of the days, HOOK ‘EM and COOK ‘EM.
Remember, in 1998 the Internet was still in the infancy stages and not the effective and fast tool for marketing we know today. For example, not having a website because they were expensive and difficult to construct then, the night before I did the Art Bell Radio Show it took me hours to upload only a dozen kind of large but not massive photo files. In pitching Art I sent him a faxed letter telling him about the story and offering him a copy of the book autographed by a bunch of the pilots, I did not ask to be on his show!.
Later that day the phone rang and the familiar voice of the great man was on the line telling me, “I want a copy of your and do you want to be on my radio show.” That was an easy question to answer and my publisher, George Jaquith, had the brilliant idea of offering the first 500 books sold to be autographed by me. I agreed and we sold nearly a thousand books from the show and very soon my living room was filled with boxes of books, mailers and postage to autograph and send the 500 autographed books out. It took me nearly a month to complete the task but I came up with a rather clever way to autograph the books, given time, and one can find those copies for sale on Amazon today (see picture left)
Art Bell’s great gift as a radio man, especially for someone doing his first radio show to promote his first book, was an ability to put his guests on a pedestal and showcase them, not inserting his persona and views in relation to the guest and thus show the world their brilliance. I did many more shows and often got trapped, without realizing it, in the host’s agenda and finding my story swept away. Later, from media training with the talented radio talk show host Michael Dresser, who sadly passed away in early 2016, I learned to give the hosts what they wanted and carefully move back to my message and story. I will miss Michael Dresser’s friendship and counsel on my client’s media abilities.
I got help from an unexpected source on the Internet front when I sent an email to a webmaster who built a site to market model airplanes that was supplemented with aviation history pages. After he replied saying he would put up World Flight Over Russia articles and a photo gallery, unbeknownst to me he was only half serious, on a Friday afternoon I sent him three articles and around forty photographs in a large series of emails. He was shocked by the flood of material and guessed I was rather serious about the process and on Monday morning I was pleased, overjoyed and ecstatic is more like it, to find all three articles and a photo gallery online in a mini-website that was truly a huge gift for me at the time. Turned out he was worked at one of the major airports in New York City and did this on the side. I thanked him profusely because, at a time when the Internet was pretty raw and involved coding and expense, this was a terrific PR tool for me and is still online nearly 20 years later at www.aviation-history.com/russia/worldflight.html.
Email pitches using the article and gallery website landed me the following:
Book reviews in major aviation publications EAA’s Sport Aviation, Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine and Flight Journal; feature articles by me published in Canadian Owner & Pilots Association’s (COPA) newspaper, Russian aviation publication Aviation & Commerce and a front cover feature article in Atlantic Flyer; a feature article on the whole story by Cory Fisher in the Los Angeles Times and a number of smaller mini-features in local publications.