The past, present and future of publicity: Interview with Georgina Moore
Georgina Moore is Communications Director at Headline and Tinder Press, and runs the Press Office. Her recent campaigns include Bryony Gordon’s Mad Girl and Sarah Schmidt’s See What I Have Done and she is currently working on Maggie O’Farrell’s memoir I Am, I Am, I Am. Sam Perkins interviews her here.
1) How has book publicity changed over the course of your career?
So much has changed! The biggest thing is how front and centre now publicity is because discoverability is so key in the new retailer landscape. I remember a time when sales people didn’t much see the point to publicity other than something nice at the end of the publishing line, a nice little bonus review to keep the author happy.
Publicists were hugely patronised as people who booked parties or in Bridget Jones’s words ‘fannying around with press releases’. Now there is no sales strategy without a PR & marketing plan at the heart of it. Its widely accepted now that a strategic, persuasive, creative, passionate, relentless publicity campaign from a talented publicist can make a books success.
Also with budgets for retailer promotional slots and advertising space of any kind being so stretched, free PR (free monetarily, not free in man hours!) can be in some cases the biggest sales tool a publishing team will have.
2) What changes do you anticipate will happen over the next 5-10 years?
I would like to say that there will have to be more investment in PR and Marketing teams, who at the moment in most publishers seem to be so stretched but that may be wishful thinking! I know that with increased personalisation in marketing the communications (newsletters and the like) will become more effective tools.
In terms of PR, sadly I think the traditional media outlets will continue to shrink (recently we have lost Midweek and Saturday Review for example on BBC Radio 4) and so it will become even more competitive fighting it out for the outlets that are left and so personal relationships become even more key.
And for non-fiction and celebrity publishing I think there will be increased pressure to do even more creative and ambitious bookselling events – as we escape more and more in the digital world the hunger to meet heroes face to face will only become greater.
3) What one thing do you think your publisher, Headline, does really well?
There is an energy and creativity at Headline, and a work hard, play hard ethos that I really enjoy and it is not hierarchical – opportunities are given to all. It is a small team under the umbrella of mighty Hachette so it feels like one of the reasons our best campaigns sing out is because we are joined up. Often evidence of that can be seen in the publicist and the marketer winning an industry award for the same campaign – as Vicky Palmer and I did for The Lemon Grove and more recently Katie Brown in my team for One Pound Meals as well as the marketers Viviane Basset and Rob Chilver.
We are energetic on social media, and good at coming up with new ways of promoting authors – our branded Rooftop Book Club events are an example of that. I really enjoy the clarity our MD Mari Evans brings to publishing plans & strategies but also the value she places in keeping instinct and passion in publishing alive.
4) Which other publishers do you think have admirable communication strategies?
Alison Barrow at Transworld is a force and generous in championing books other than her own. I really admire publishers where all the noise does not just come from the publicity department and where spreading book love and making a song and dance about books comes from other voices on social media and at book events. Pan Macmillan and Picador are a good example of that – they have a brilliantly organised & effective digital & communications strategy but they also have individual voices from editorial who are influential too – for example, I always know when Francesca Main sends me a proof it will be special.
Also somewhere like Orion – where you see the buzz and excitement coming down from the MD herself – Katie Espiner – and where there are publicists turned editors like Sam Eades and Ben Willis – who are brilliant at showing how great communications skills can work for you in any publishing role.
5) As someone who has done exceptionally well in her field, what is your top career tip?
Go above and beyond for your authors. Don’t overshare about how stretched, or stressed or busy your are – everyone is. Media meetings are so important – keep up to date with your best contacts, make them friends where appropriate.
Turn over every stone. If you see traction and something happening on a campaign, don’t just stop and rest on your laurels, use it as an injection of energy to try even harder, and to go out and get more for that book/author.
Go to everything you can and network. This is a generous industry and sometimes getting other people in other publishers on board with a book you love can make all the difference. Remember word of mouth can sometimes take a long time to build, don’t give up when you know the book is sensational. Be kind and mentor the people who work for you – you never know if you might end up working for them!