Media coverage sparked by book publicity services is an essential marketing function in the opinion of many publishing industry veterans. It's because earned media coverage that reaches target readers improves discoverability. Whenever budgets allow, it's always helpful to have a publicist or PR firm on your side. When you're ready to take the step and retain a firm, the question is how to select the one that's best for you? While it's not an exact science, there are things you can do to help ensure a good fit. PR is a people business, so the interpersonal dynamic needs to be comfortable and productive.
As you would when considering any professional of their firm, don't be reluctant to request references. Seeing what past clients have to say can be valuable in your search. It's also important to have conversations with the person or firms you're considering. If the relationship is communicative and easy, it can signal people you can work with productively. Even details like preferred communication methods can be factors. For example, if you like to handle things by phone and you select a publicist prone to email, it might cause a strain later on. You'll need to decide based on your instincts.
When hiring a book publicist, deciding between a one-person operation and a larger firm is a consideration. The one-person shop might mean a senior-level person handles everything, but the progress of your campaign depends entirely on them. When you hire a firm with a team of people to work on your book, they share the responsibility, and if someone is absent for a few days or a week, your program continues. Each has pros and cons, but more prominent authors and higher profile books tend to do better with firms. You also enjoy the benefit of several people's ideas and insight.
Experience and capabilities matter, but be wary of big promises. Media coverage is subjective, and there are no guarantees. Veteran publicists can make progress for nearly any book, but they cannot control what others write or say. When you submit your book to reviewers and the media, some may write something critical. It goes with the territory, and as long as the total coverage received is favorable, you'll do well. Reaching target readers and helping them discover your book is crucial. Only a well-rounded publicity campaign with well-crafted pitches will work well for you in the long run,