A publicist’s tips for nurturing contacts

Publicists and marketers are working in a digital and trad media world where contacts are easy to find but perhaps harder to reach. Nurturing and maintaining relationships in this environment is as important as ever but some challenges are presented. How do you keep up with simultaneous communication through email, Twitter, Messenger, Instagram, Facebook and other digital platforms without feeling overwhelmed? How do you ensure that your communication is meaningful, that you present yourself as a valuable contact rather than white noise or even unwanted spam?

As a book publicist working across genres as diverse as debut fiction and business books, I need to ensure that my key relationships are maintained but that I also have the space to make new ones. Here are a few suggestions for how to keep your little black book current…

1) Try and have a very approx. plan of your next few months and who you want to meet with face to face

Think about the contacts who may want to meet infrequently but for longer, in-depth meetings. Work out who then needs to hear from you more often but perhaps in a less formal context such as contacts who communicate through/ work for social media sites. They may never feel the need to meet AFK but may want to hear from you little and often. Contribute to their conversations, demonstrate that you have a voice and a view, respond to digital messages speedily. Maintain your voice but let them set the tone

2) Show an awareness of your contacts’ tastes

This is also especially useful when trying to get a new working relationship off the ground. Show that you have read previous pieces by them (not necessarily to do with any of your projects), explain why you are contacting them. Also, try and have at least a basic idea of their working week – if you know they go to press on Wednesday afternoons, don’t contact them then unless it’s an emergency – and even then, acknowledge that it could be a bad time

3) Never ignore contacts

You may not be able to grant every request but that’s not to say that you can just leave their email in your inbox – a quick and simple response to why something may not be possible is invariably the best way forward

4) Say thank you!

Once a good piece of PR has run, drop a little note to the journalist to say thanks. They may not always have time to reply but they are sure to read and appreciate it – and will remember it.

Zoë Hood is the deputy publicity director at Little, Brown Book Group working across the Little, Brown, Virago, Fleet and Corsair imprints. She is the UK publicist for authors such as David Sedaris, Colson Whitehead, Sarah Dunant and Ariel Levy. She has held previous PR positions at Jonathan Cape and Transworld Publishers.