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Invest in the Future: Public Relations 

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Tony Mulliken

Tony Mulliken,
Partner at Midas PR

You are a writer. You have a few stories published. Maybe even a book. Now how do you get the word out and get your work into the hands of eager readers?

Tony Mulliken, co-founder of Midas Public Relations, says public relations is the way to go. Start early and start right and readers will find you.

Mr. Mulliken was kind enough to take the time to talk to Mash Stories about Midas Public Relations and how writers can get started building their own PR.

Josh Flynn: How did you become interested in public relations work?

Tony Mulliken: By accident! I was working in the editorial & sales department of a small magazine and was invited to a party at WH Allen publishers. This publisher was well known for celebrity biographies so I thought it would be fun and trendy. There were many famous celebrities and broadcasters, lots of good food and booze and a great time. I met the PR people and thought that this was the job for me – I had no idea that there would be other work to do – I thought it was going to be more parties like this one!

Josh: What’s the difference between marketing and PR?

Tony: Marketing incorporates PR but also promotion and advertising. Marketing is nothing without PR as there is never enough budget to rely upon advertising and promotional activity. The “free” advertising that is created by imaginative and professional PR is worth its weight in gold, or bitcoins!

Josh: Can you talk about the process of starting Midas and how it has grown over time?

Tony: I started the first independent book PR company in the 70s, focusing totally on authors and books with clients only from the publishing arena. Most of the publishers in the UK had their own PR departments but often needed to outsource projects that needed more time or attention – or more demanding and difficult authors. I merged 20 years ago with another specialist book agency that focused on more “literary” titles (I was more focused on mass market popular titles) run by a guy called Steven Williams. This helped to broaden our skill base and we now cover all things literary – exhibitions, book fairs, publishers’ parties or launches, art, digital etc.

Josh: What has been your most successful PR campaign? Who was it for? Why did it become such a success?

Tony: There have been many successes – some smaller or larger than others. The most recent has been the development of an author called Peter James. Peter is a crime writer and now a number 1 bestseller in the UK and continent with millions of sales. I helped him find the right publisher and agent and then built his PR profile to help to stimulate awareness and sales. Peter is one of the hardest working writers I have ever met and the combination of all the right elements has led to his amazing success.

Josh: At what point in a writer’s career do you recommend them investing in public relations?

Tony: Right at the beginning. Start it right and it will build. Trying to do catch-up when others have failed just makes the job harder. An author needs to invest in their future. Often publishers do not do this.

Josh: Should writers do their own PR? How could they get started and what challenges should they expect?

Tony: They can do their own PR but are they writers or are they PR people? To have both would mean that even I could be a famous writer – I think not! They need to understand their genre, their audience, the appropriate media, have a website, understand how to use social media, be PR creative – better still, employ Midas!

Josh: With so many indie and self-published projects out in the world today, how can a writer convince the media that their project is worth covering?

Tony: That again takes a special understanding of what the media might want and how to present it.  That is not as difficult as it may sound. It is really a matter of getting, in the case of national newspapers & magazines, copies of those publications for a week and reading them carefully. Very quickly you will ascertain whether they cover that subject or not and even have the name of the relevant journalist to specifically target. Then focus your email or letter with a rationale that might be of interest to them. Journalists hate to have their time wasted but appreciate a good idea. You also have to be brave enough to pick up the phone and call them – that’s the difficult bit. If the idea is good and obviously would work in that publication at least they may consider it.

Josh: How can writers build good relations with journalists?

Tony: They can offer to write articles, they can offer ideas for stories, they can become a “reliable source” for a journalist. It takes time to know the media and to build a relationship with journalists. That is why PR companies exist – because they have the contacts and the databases, and a reputation.

Josh: Do you have any advice for writers as the publishing industry continues to change and go in new directions?

Tony: Be creative, think laterally, use all the media, both analogue & digital, be different – don’t just jump on a bandwagon. If you are not good at PR, talk to a specialist. If you have a good publisher, push them to work harder on your behalf. It is the squeaky gate that gets the most oil!

Most importantly, you need to be able to write well!

Josh: Thank you to Mr. Mulliken for taking the time to share his knowledge about public relations with our readers. Visit Midas to learn more about the agency and the writers they represent.

 

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A writer and journalist, Josh Flynn is Mash Stories’s official journalist and one of the main blog writers. His essays, stories, and articles have appeared in The Indianapolis Star, Nuvo Newsweekly, Slam Magazine, genesisNerdSpan, and Punchnel’s. You can follow him on Twitter at @joshflynn.