Recognising the true value of PR when you are 'Publicity Resistant'
By Ann Shakespeare
In her latest blog, Ann Shakespeare – a columnist for the Church of England newspaper, a former writer for TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal and BBC World Service, and the former assistant editor of The Daily Journal – shares the numerous benefits that she has experienced since launching a website.
Ann also discusses some other initiatives that have helped her promote her book, God’s Gift of Tremendous Power (Deep River Books), which reveals how the latest understanding of quantum physics not only supports Biblical teachings but can also help readers find a deeper connection with God.
Coming Online to the Idea of a Website
The message came through with increasing vigour from those in the know: “Ann, you have to have a landing page for your book!”
Well, I don’t do Facebook or Twitter, so it had to be a website and so I set about trying to create something very discrete and behind-the-scenes. Not quite the point, though. In an effort to get more of a grip on what I should do after publishing a book, I signed up with Palamedes and in no time they had managed to reorient my unhelpful version of PR (Publicity Resistance) – in the nicest possible way.
Even so, the idea of propelling my book, monthly articles, photo and contact details “out there”, through a very public website, did not exactly float my boat. It would be the polar opposite to my normal life of quiet prayer and even quieter writing.
God’s Gift of Tremendous Power, has received critical acclaim. The Scotsman said that, “God’s Gift of Tremendous Power reclaims an important idea from the fringes of theological debate and repackages it in easy-to-understand terms for the benefit of all Christians”.
However! Sixteen months later, I can confess that there have been some intriguing and unexpected results:
Former colleagues from as far back as 40 years, with whom I had lost touch, somehow came across my book and website, including: a broadcaster who had started small, ended up covering vast tracts of the airwaves of Asia, and bought my book because of his interest in faith and science ….. a Venezuela-based journalist whose journey had led to ordained priesthood in California ….. a fellow student from many years back who discovered my book, shared it with her vicar, and the result was an invitation to preach in a city centre church and then to remain part of their preaching rota. All rather extraordinary – to say the least.
I’m making new contacts through the website, too, but wanted to point out the possibly unanticipated benefits of having a website – especially one with good search engine optimisation (SEO) – and to share my experience of reconnecting with long-distant colleagues in a most unexpected, and fruitful, way.
In addition to the website, I’d also like to share a couple of other initiatives that helped me to raise the profile of my book, and to make new contacts.
Website articles … I write and upload an illustrated article each month and send it out as a link in a newsletter to subscribers using an email automation service. I’ve discovered that these are shared further afield, too, and it’s very encouraging to receive feedback from along the more distant grapevine, as well as from the subscribers themselves. My aim is to encourage and inspire people to seek God, and to come to know Christ ever more deeply, so these responses are as equally important to me as selling my book, if not more so.
Ann Shakespeare has been featured in a host of publications, including the Church of England newspaper (above), following the release of God’s Gift of Tremendous Power.
Ann Shakespeare is the former editor of the World Association for Christian Communication’s (WACC) monthly journal, Action, and a former translator and interpreter at Tearfund, an international Christian charity that empowers people to end poverty. She now focuses wholeheartedly on writing on Christian themes, and she also ministers in a local ecumenical centre which provides prayer and pastoral support.
Selling for charity hits the spot… Reactions can verge on the startling whenever I offer book sales with proceeds going to charity! In my case, to a prison-related charity which, even at the best of times, is not the greatest draw. I display the charity’s leaflets along with my book – perhaps at a seminar or meeting of some kind – and stand back and wait. Word can spread quickly and there can be quite a flurry of buyers. One was even seen to be chasing me across the conference floor, waving a ten-pound note to attract my attention! It’s striking, too, that most people give more than the value of the book and then ask me to keep the change for the charity. It’s a good way to go if you are fundraising for a cause!
But it doesn’t stop there. Some people who have bought through charity sales (as well as ‘normal’ buyers) have gone on to share my book in their own settings, asking local bookshops if they would consider stocking it, and generally being wonderful ambassadors.
This is all a great blessing for someone like me, who still tends to veer towards the Publicity Resistant version of PR!