Well, I can’t say that Google’s master plan for this free tool was to help authors with their publicity strategy. But I can say that this free tool is a great way to find the local, national or even international news outlets that may be interested in having a published author like you give your take on their latest news story without requiring you to read, listen to or watch every news story that they publish or broadcast.
The American Press Institute explains that the best newsworthy stories includes information from various perspectives and with different kinds of expertise-you could be one of those expert viewpoints that can take a journalist or reporter’s story from good to great!
So what is this incredible free tool? It’s Google Alerts.
How Does Google Alerts Work?
Once you set up a series of Google Alert topics related to your message and your book, Google will email you when there is a news story on the web related to any of those topics.
That’s it. Just visit the link above to get setup your first alerts.
Which Words Should I Use As Alerts?
You can set unlimited alerts. Your full name and your book title could be your first two alerts so that you will know any time these appear in the news. When news media outlets mention your name or your book you should keep a copy of those articles for your media kit. Those stories will help you build credibility in the eyes of those who are learning about you for the first time and are looking for a speaker, trainer, or a qualified person to interview.
Other alert options include:
- “Author in (your city and state)” will alert you to any stories that highlight any authors in your area,
- words that describe your book’s topic (For example, if your book is about how to build a healthy lifestyle for your family, then your keywords may include “healthy family lifestyle.”),
- words that combine your topic with your city and state (e.g. “healthy family lifestyle in Charleston, SC”), or
- keywords from sub-topics within your book that might make for great news topics (i.e. “family nutrition,” “family spirituality,” “family education,” or “family tradition”).
Google Alerts As a Publicity Strategy
Publicity is a book promotion favorite because it allows information about authors and their work to be shared with large groups of people who may not have learned about the person otherwise. As described in a Forbes article on the difference between advertising and publicity, the old saying that “Advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for” highlights the distinctions of publicity as being perceived as more credible, less expensive than advertising, being focused on language instead of visual elements (which works well for authors) and publicity positions your message as being important instead of coming across as a promotional sales gimmick. However, the same article points out that publicity is not guaranteed, it is controlled by the media outlet instead of being structured by you like an ad, and it only comes when you persuade the media that you and your message add a valuable perspective and unique expertise to their story that will take it from good to great.
Google Alerts helps you find the media outlets that are already interested in stories like yours. The good news is that even if the original news outlet that ran a story like yours doesn’t want to do another one with your perspective, there is likely another media outlet that may want your perspective so they can run a story that competes with the original story you found via Google Alerts-this is why The New York Times runs some of the same stories as The Washington Post, and this is why CNN runs the same stories as Fox. Everyone wants to run the latest news stories but present an interesting twist, and Google Alerts can help you stay on top of who is running stories like yours so that you’ll know when to approach the media outlets and you’ll know which news angle to use.
For example, if there are news stories about childhood obesity, news outlets may be more interested in you and your message if you approach them with what you know about strategies families can use to make nutrition a priority and part of day-to-day life. They may not be interested in all your other tips about family education or family spirituality, so it would be foolish to try to force news outlets to mention that in their stories. Once you find out which angles the media is interested in, your mission would be to help them see what you can add to the stories they are already running instead of trying to get them to do a free promotional piece on your entire message.
Publicity is never guaranteed, but you are guaranteed never to get publicity if you never look for opportunities to get it. Google Alerts is a great free tool to help you stay on the look out for publicity opportunities 365 days a year, 7 days a week and 24 hours a day. You can always pick and choose which opportunities you want to pursue based on which stories and which media outlets you think will be most beneficial to you and your target audience so that you don’t end up chasing every remotely relevant media story in search of publicity. When you do find a story you want to pursue, you can indirectly respond to it by releasing a strategic press release that shares your perspective and by using online tools that let journalists and reporters know that you are available to help them with their stories or you can take a more direct route by contacting your local media outlets (think news papers, radio talk shows, news stations and local TV talk shows) and sending them a concise message of 800 words or less that shares the perspective you can offer, quickly shares your credibility and your contact information so they can contact you if they are interested in talking with you more about the story. SparkAction has a helpful free tool that allows you to find local media and national media outlets that serve that area.
Over time, if you build a healthy relationship with your local media outlets, you will find it easier to get publicity, and sometimes the media outlets may contact you first when they have a relevant story to run because they will already know, like and trust you.