There is what you can learn in a book, and then there's what you learn from life. Here's a few lessons that only a successful book publicist will ever get the chance to experience:
1. When pitching, be 100% certain you are contacting the right person at a media outlet.
Well, it's not always as easy as it sounds.
Staff at media outlets vary greatly. They may employ editors, writers, producers, assistant producers, assignment desk people, etc. In other words, there's a whole host of professionals you might contact for an interview or event. All your hard work organizing and pitching is completely meaningless unless you are reaching out to the right person.
Back in my agency days, I tried to schedule a press conference for a client on a non-newsworthy topic.
Mistake #1 - I invited all the producers at the news networks instead of the news editors and assignment desk people.
Mistake #2 - No one showed up to the press conference.
Outcome? One understandably unhappy client.
2. There's no such thing as being too organized in PR.
That's pretty self-explanatory, but here's an illustrative scenario I once endured.
I once accidentally emailed a reporter using the wrong name because I wasn't as organized as I could have been. This has the same effect as the first point above about not contacting the right person; you are going exactly nowhere despite all of your other efforts.
Essentially, there's no such thing as over-documentation or being too organized in PR. You want to be organized - like obsessive, A-type personality organized.
3. Carefully select your clients.
But don't you just want to throw a wide net and earn income off as many clients as possible? Some folks might think this way. For me? Nope. Not at all.
I have learned to restrict my client list to five at a time. This limited clientele allows me to perform at my highest level for every campaign. I will also only take on a client who has written a book that I personally like and on a topic that genuinely interests me. This makes the collaborative process with the client more enjoyable, and makes me even more invested in their success.
4. If you are going through something traumatic, or are very stressed, consider taking time off from work.
This is one lesson in the bunch that goes for any field.
I know this first hand because I once made a pretty embarrassing error early in my career when I didn't take time off and should have. My mistake? I actually cursed at a client. It's a horrible thing to have done and there is no excuse for it and I've never done anything like it again.
My best friend - my dog of 16 years - had died the night before. I was completely distraught and out of sorts and did not have any patience that morning, much less for a client who was not being kind to me. I said something unfortunate to him and hung up the phone and immediately ran to my boss crying. She told me to call back and apologize. I did. He accepted my apology.
While everything turned out fine, it's a lesson I'll never forget. Be mindful of your mental state. If you are really stressed, it's more productive to take the time off to regroup, rather than push through and hurt yourself or someone else.