Tuesday, June 30, 2009

CNN makes a book publicist's job tough.

CNN makes a book publicist's job tougher (and her day just a little bit rougher) than it has to be sometimes. Okay, other news organizations do it, too, but this time I have evidence that CNN is making this book publicist's job difficult.

One of the things a book publicist must do is convince the media to run a story as newsworthy or entertaining. A highly successful book promotion campaign usually involves a sure-fire news hook located somewhere in the author's life...preferably, somewhere reasonably close to the book he or she is promoting. A good book publicist has a better-than-average ability to predict which news hooks the media might go for.

Which is why one of today's top stories from CNN.com gave this particular book publicist a headache. Strange, puffy clouds were seen over New York City after a thunderstorm? A couple of people spotted Michael Jackson's face in the clouds? A meteorologist, when questioned, didn't deny that someone with a very keen imagination might be able to turn the puffy clouds into Michael Jackson's image? And that's news?

Well, okay. I can sort of see it. I mean, this is the first day in what seems like a month that someone famous, or formerly famous, hasn't unexpectedly met his or her maker. And, now that Michael Jackson's children are in the legal (if temporary) custody of their paternal grandmother, and autopsy results aren't expected back for several weeks, there isn't a front-burner Jackson story available. So I can understand how news organizations might be unable to resist the temptation to fill the glaring gap with -- a story about nothing.

But dang. For a book publicist like me, the world of book promotion gets a little bit harder every time one of our story pitches is brushed aside to make room for a non-story like strange (or not-so-strange, depending on your perspective) cloud formations over New York City.

Why isn't Hollywood Politicos, Then and Now by Greg R. Rabidoux (which talks about celebrities who seriously involve themselves in politics) on the front page of CNN.com today? Well, partly because New York City had a thunderstorm. In the summertime. And then there were clouds.

Gee whiz. This book publicist is getting a headache. And yet...book promotion is a fairly fun game, if you don't mind having one of your great pitches brushed aside, once in awhile, for no apparent reason other than the fact that, strangely, even non-news about recently deceased celebrities tend to trump everything else in a newsroom.