Press Releases are useless. Except during the next two weeks.

Most likely, your press release will be DOA. In fact, it begins having heart palpitations before you hit the send button. A little known fact, a news station in a big news market like Dallas/Fort Worth (where I live) gets 2,500 press releases A DAY. But there is a way to skip to the front of the line and almost guarantee your press release will be read and turn into a few minutes in front of a camera (aka a FREE COMMERCIAL FOR YOUR BOOK) Interested in thousands of dollars in free advertising? Then please read on.

Before I gave my presentation to the Grapevine Chamber of Commerce yesterday, a guy by the name of Jeff Crilley, who happens to own his own PR firm here in Dallas, gave a presentation on how to get free publicity from local news stations. And, as a former local FOX news reporter for 25 years or so, Jeff knows a little something about the subject. In fact, he wrote a book entitled Free Publicity, and gave copies to those of us in attendance.

The book is chock full of useful tips on getting free publicity, but perhaps the greatest advice Jeff had is extremely timely (i.e. it has a very short expiration date) He said that news stations are STARVING  for news over the last two weeks in December. News that would normally be looked over in a matter of seconds on a normal news day at a normal time of year becomes gold to the desperate reporter who drew the short straw and is left stuck in the newsroom rubbing his Santa hat for luck.

Jeff’s advice was to basically do a little research and find out if who’s been covering stories on topics that are similar to the ones in your book. Your novel about ghosts? A local reporter probably has done a recent story about a haunted house/building/forest (you have to go back no further than Halloween time for something like that) Is your book about a historic district in town? News reporters are always doing stories about saving historical places in the face of Big Development and their menacing cranes. Now, here’s where Jeff gets very specific. CALL, do not email or write the reporter that’s been covering those stories. This is, after all, your sales pitch to run your story. You need to talk to a person, you need to make a connection. So call the reporter. Chat up the angle that you’ve seen their story on the historic building that was nearly torn down. You have just published a book on an entire historic district in town that has a history of not just one but several buildings being reduced to splinters. Maybe there’s a group that fights tooth and nail to save it every time someone wants to change it. Maybe something happened there around this time of year in the district’s heyday (making it timely). See where I’m going with this? 

Tell the reporter that you are emailing him your press release as you’re speaking to him. Tell him you are available at his convenience to do an interview. If you have a book signing coming up, it’d be great to have a camera crew come out. Make it as easy on the reporter as possible to cover the story. Chances are they’re up against a deadline. If they can do your story and still have time for lunch, they’ll be grateful.

So there you go. You get some free press that’s worth A LOT of greenbacks. They get some news to fill an otherwise giant hole that is the holiday news cycle. Win-win. No go start writing your release and your phone call script so on Monday you’re ready to punch those digits and sell your story! 


Mark’s latest novel, The Brink, was selected for Barnes and Noble’s Special Collection for a second time! Check it out at

Still looking for a unique Christmas gift? Mark will be signing copies of The Brink from 2pm to 4pm at the Colleyville, Texas Borders bookstore tomorrow (Saturday Dec 18)