Working with your Publicist – Send Cookies!

6 Aug

I'd work for these cookies––French macaroons.

I'd work for these cookies––French macaroons, or Luxembourgers, made by Burdick Chocolates of Northhampton, MA. Photo courtesy of Burdick Chocolates.

From Sandy Nathan: We have a great treat today: an article on working with a publicist by guest blogger, Susan Schwartzman of Susan Schwartzman Public Relations. Susan has been called “The Navy SEAL of Publicity” by the publicity director of a well-known publisher. She specializes in book publicity campaigns for publishers and authors and is known for garnering more media attention for her clients than they dreamed possible.

What does a top publicist want from a client? Cookies. Susan explains here, showing once again that attention to the personal aspects of professional relationships works:

I was on a panel recently with an in-house publicist from Penguin when she was asked by a member of the audience what an author can do to help a publicist.

“Send cookies,” she said. She further explained that when you are promoting many authors, the one who sends cookies will be the one who you work hardest for. “It’s just human nature,” she said. “Be kind to your publicist,” she added.

I remembered her comments when I mentioned to my clients that I was closing early on a Friday this past July to celebrate my birthday on Saturday.

The previous year, when my birthday actually fell on a Friday in July, I had closed for the entire day, as many firms generally do on Fridays in the summer.

One client complained that I absolutely could not take off on Friday because she was taking off the next day for an extended vacation. She made a list of things she wanted me to do on that particular Friday. Her book was not due out for four months and the publisher had not even printed advance reading copies yet. Even so, I had already written press materials: a press release, pitch letter, and a draft of the bio.

She still insisted, however, that I spend my birthday re-working the bio she already had posted on her website––and that I was planning to use––along with other demands.

This year, I received an e-mail wishing me a happy birthday from a best-selling author whose book I had promoted ten years ago. Like clockwork, he always remembers my birthday. He had, in fact, hired me for a small campaign this year to promote a television show he was hosting, but during the past ten years when I was not promoting any of his books, he still always remembered my birthday.

A few days after my birthday a package arrived. Although I regularly receive packages of books I was not expecting any books that week. I let the package sit in my vestibule for several hours before tackling the sturdy cardboard box with my box cutter.

Inside was a lovely looking brown and black box tied with a beautiful silky brown ribbon flecked with gold. How beautiful I thought. And then I opened the box. Inside were delicate looking wafers, macaroons, actually. They were Luxembourgers, small round wafers filled with delicious coffee, chocolate and fruit-flavored meringues that are popular in Europe. Their French cousins, the macaroon, are not as light and airy in consistency.

I popped one into my mouth. And then another, and another, until the box was almost empty. Guilt rescued me from devouring the entire box.  I saved the several remaining cookies for my husband.

The day the Luxembourgers arrived was a humid, rainy afternoon and I was feeling sluggish even with the air conditioning. No one in the media was returning my calls and e-mails were bouncing back with vacation notices. Isolated in my home-office, I felt like I was the only one in town working on this July afternoon. It was one of those days that really test the endurance and motivation of a publicist.

But, after savoring those cookies, I picked up the phone, determined to get my client the publicity she deserved. And I did.

Days later I received several e-mails assuring me that this author’s book would be reviewed. And the magazine that I had pitched for a profile story was strongly considering interviewing my author. What more could a publicist ask for––five months before the book’s pub date?

The cookies worked their magic, both for me and for the author. And the author who always remembers my birthdays? I got nothing less than Entertainment Weekly to review his show, and People Magazine to mention both his show and the book I had promoted ten years ago, which the publisher had released in it’s 10th Anniversary Edition.

Susan Schwartzman

Susan Schwartzman

Susan Schwartzman Public Relations specializes in book publicity campaigns for publishers and authors. Dynamic, aggressive yet affordable book publicity campaigns designed to enhance visibility in today’s extremely competitive market are her hallmark. Contact Susan to find out how she can help your book succeed.

Susan Schwartzman
Susan Schwartzman Public Relations

Would you like some of those cookies? They’re all the rage in Paris––lines form to purchase “les macarons”––and now Burdicks is shipping them! These hand-piped, tender meringue treats are filled with flavored buttercreams. All natural flavorings of chocolate, coffee, pistachio, raspberry, lavender, almond-citrus and ginger. The assortment of fifteen is presented in a unique polka-dotted box. Click here for a review. Click to go to  LA Burdick Chocolate‘s website to order.

9 Responses to “Working with your Publicist – Send Cookies!”

  1. Jennifer Prost August 10, 2009 at 6:36 am #

    At Jennifer Prost Public Relations, we do our best for all our clients. We love a “thank you” for work well done, or a pat on the back, but if you hire my firm, we’ll get you the best attention possible, cookies or no cookies.

  2. Susan Schwartzman August 12, 2009 at 4:18 am #

    I am extremely motivated and work hard for all of my clients. My piece did not mean to imply that you have to send cookies in order to motivate me. But a thoughtful gesture such as the one a current client made when I told her I was closing for my birthday, does make a difference on those gruelling days when you just want to pack it in.
    And it makes a difference when a contact in the media calls three years after the campaign is over asking you to recommend an author for their TV show, as happened several summers ago when I was on vacation. I had the perfect author for their show, and went out of my way to track her down — she was on vacation too.
    And the author who remembers my birthday every year? As I said in my piece, I did not even handle a book of his for ten years, yet every year like clock work, he wishes me a happy birthday. And when he did ask me to handle a small campaign for a TV show he hosted this year, his thoughtfulness paid back in spades. I didn’t make just one call, or two calls to People Magazine. I made as many as it took to get the placement.
    Do I do that for all of my clients? You bet. That’s why a former client hailed me the Navy SEAL of publicists.
    It doesn’t have to be cookies. And I don’t expect gifts. But it’s nice when an author wishes you a happy birthday instead of telling you that you can’t take a vacation day to celebrate.

  3. L. C. Evans August 13, 2009 at 9:20 am #

    Thanks for a lovely article. It never hurts to treat others as you would like to be treated and to show your appreciation for a job well done. I am making this note short because I am going to check out Susan Schwartzman’s website before I head on over to that cookie place. I am trying to stay off sugar, but I think I have just been enabled.

  4. Karen Steward August 15, 2009 at 12:32 pm #

    Beautiful article. Regardless of profession, I think it is human nature to give a little more oomph to the person who takes the time to show us how important we are to them. And, nothing says it nicer than cookies!

  5. Faith Mortimer September 11, 2009 at 11:17 pm #

    How nice! If only more people were a little more thoughtful, and took the time to show that we really care – altruism rules the day! I shall make sure that my publicist is not left off the ‘cookie’ list this Christmas!

  6. Anjuelle Floyd September 16, 2009 at 11:36 am #

    Wonderful article. You said it all.

    Cookies are the way to go.

    Thanks so much.

  7. houses in fallowfield April 25, 2013 at 1:05 am #

    This is a great blog, would you be involved in doing an interview about just how you developed it? If so e-mail me!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

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    […] recently posted an article by super publicist Susan Schwartzman about working with a publicist and the importance of sending cookies once in a […]

  2. Be Kind to Your Publicist | Market My Novel - September 9, 2009

    […] Susan Schwartzman of Susan Schwartzman Public Relations offers a terrific look at how a box of cookies saved her day – and got an author some major publicity – at Your Shelf Life. […]