Monday, March 23, 2009

Launch of New ePublishing House, Abbott ePublishing


Tuesday, March 24, 2009
CONTACT: Stephen Abbott, Publisher, Abbott ePublishing, 603-785-7796; publisher/at/

Launch of New ePublishing House, Abbott ePublishing;
Offers Affordable Electronic Books; Seeks Authors

MANCHESTER, NH - Abbott ePublishing, a Manchester New Hampshire-based publisher of electronic books, launched Tuesday, March 24, with the goal of offering “affordable, interesting eBooks” and competing with high-priced online eBook retailers.

Founded by Stephen Abbott, a public relations consultant, former newspaper reporter and writer, the new publishing house, which can be found online at, seeks to offer inexpensive eBooks in various formats.

Abbott ePublishing will give readers an affordable way to access electronic books, said Abbott.

“In a recession, people don’t have the money for a $15 or $20 book, and surely don’t have that kind of money for an eBook,, which carries few of the costs of electronically produced books,” said Abbott. “Abbott ePublishing offers books for under $10, and most for far less.”

The average price of an eBook on the site is currently around $4, he said.

“The launch of Abbott ePublishing comes at a time when the price of eBooks offered at major online retailers are rising, some to well over $15,” said Abbott. “That’s simply not the way for publishers to endear themselves to the reading public.”

The publisher launches with over 30 electronic book titles, in subjects as varied as Business & Money, Fiction & Literature, History, Humor, Inspiration & Self Improvement, Philosophy, Politics & Current Affairs, Religion & Spirituality, Science & Technology and Travel & Travel Essays.

Abbott ePublishing is currently seeking authors of eBooks in these subject areas. Authors receive a royalty rate of fifty percent of the sale price of their eBook. “That’s a greater royalty than nearly any other publisher, on or off-line,” said Abbott.

The debut line-up includes two books from the publishing house’s first signed fiction author, George Polley of Sapporo, Japan, who has written two books of animal short stories based loosely on Japanese folklore.

Abbott has also authored some eBooks that will be offered on the site, including a business book, “Hot Jobs for a Cold Economy: Service Businesses You Can Start for Little Cash” (to be published on April 15) and what he calls a “slightly off-the-wall book” of humorous sayings and quotations about Abraham Lincoln.

Most books on the site are offered in both Adobe .pdf (Portable Document Format) and mobipocket formats. Books in .pdf format can be read on a desktop or laptop with the free, downloadable Adobe Reader. All mobipocket formatted eBooks can be read with a downloadable Mobipocket Reader and are compatible with the Amazon Kindle e-reader and most handheld devices.



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Monday, March 16, 2009

What is a News Release, Anyway?

I am frequently asked a rather fundamental question by clients or prospective clients: “What the HELL is a News Release, anyway?” It’s a great question! (and forgive the expletive. It's sometimes there, sometimes not.)

Like the canvas for an artist, or the meal for a chef, the news release represents the writing and persuasion skills of a public relations consultant, as they appear in print.

A news release (also known as a press release, media release, or press statement) is a professionally written document directed at members of the news media - or some other person or group - for the purpose of announcing something important that has news value. Public relations consultants use them frequently in their quest to gain exposure for their clients and craft public opinion to favor those clients.

Sometimes they are sent to announce news conferences or other public events, at which other communications tools are used to reinforce a central theme or message. They are included in a media kit.

Public relations consultants create news releases for their clients after learning all that’s possible about the subject of the release and all the pertinent data that will be needed to construct it. After a release is crafted - usually within two days or less, it is submitted for a final review to the client, who reviews the release for accuracy before it’s sent to the media or to relevant audiences.

Typically, releases are mailed, e-mailed or hand delivered to assignment editors at newspapers, magazines, radio stations and television stations, as well as to relevant bloggers and online news sources. Reporters are called to ensure they have received a release and understand its contents, or if they have further questions about its subject.

The news release is usually only one or two pages in length, is double-spaced, and is written in a news style that could lead to being placed in newspapers with little or no further editing - a very good result.

News releases must be timely, newsworthy, address only one issue, follow news guidelines for writing, i.e. the Five “W’s” (who, what, where, when and why) and include a “lead” that is powerful and states the subject of the release clearly and briefly. Contact information is provided (name, title, phone and email) so that a reporter can follow up with more questions if they need clarification, or if they wish to expand the release into a story - that is also a good result for a news release.

Other than for typos or factual errors, clients should avoid the temptation to further “tweak” a completed release when they are given a final draft- usually (in my experience) by adding vast reams of text they think would “improve” a release. This is never a good idea. A release can easily become too wordy and lose the all-important news format, and editors have just a few seconds to determine if the release is newsworthy and if it’s professionally written.

But a four-page release buried under the entire history of a company or a self-serving biography of a CEO doesn’t qualify as either newsworthy or professional. The news release must be a carefully crafted piece of technical writing, and it can be ruined completely by well-meaning edits.

Which means paying a public relations professional to craft these and other written documents - and trusting them to get it right - makes a great deal of sense.

Even more so when you learn that news releases are often more cost-effective than advertising, because they “earn” media coverage, which can be seen as more credible than thousands of dollars in advertising.

If you have further questions about news releases, please contact Abbott Public Relations at 603-785-7796.


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Friday, March 13, 2009

Robert Scoble takes PR to task, and gets it half right

Thursday night, I had the interesting exchange below with Robert Scoble, a.k.a. “Scobleizer” regarding his misunderstanding of the term “PR.”

Scoble, who has over 69,000 twitter followers, isn’t stupid. But his rant against the public relations profession has struck a nerve with me and other PR professionals - both positively and not so much.

Here are his comments and my replies from Thursday around 11:45 p.m.:

Scobleizer: Yo, @shooby, again, PR is dead (he's looking for a job in PR or marketing). Find a new way to create magical relationships for companies.

Nhprman: @Scobleizer PR hs bn declared "dead" many times (yawn) It's ALWAYS bn abt creating relationships betwn customers & brands. That's not news

Scobleizer: @nhprman PR, as most people are practicing it is lame and dead. Anyone good at PR doesn't say they are doing PR nor do they defend PR.

Scobleizer: @nhprman: if PR is about creating relationships than why do I get thousands of the lamest idiotic pitches you could possibly come up with?

Nhprman: @Scobleizer Lame pitches aside, PR's a *real* profession w/standards & ethics. That said, I say I build reputations & relatnshps not just "PR"

Not directed to me, he also said this to someone else:

@8101harris good PR pros are not doing PR. See Jeremy Toeman or Brian Solis. They create magical experiences that lead to great media.

Which is fair. And frankly, I see where he’s coming from. Robert is not an idiot. He “gets” that PR is evolving all the time. In fact, two-way communication that builds “magical experiences” is an absolutely correct definition of PR today. It’s just that he doesn’t know, perhaps, that this is the ideal definition of PR.

And as I alluded to in one of these tweets, PR, as I practice it, involves creating and building reputations in the minds of targeted publics. It’s about relationship building as much as its about message - and both are critically important.

Regarding message, for instance, he’s correct when he says (in this blogtalkradio podcast) that pitching someone via email is stupid, and ineffective. He prefers to have buddies over for dinner and then hear their pitch. Sure. That’s fine. Good approach. Just one of many, of course.

And if the restricts his critique of PR to what happens online (where he lives and breathes) then yeah, he may have a point or  two about the poor PR practices here.

But as I said in reply to him last night, PR as a profession is not “dead.” Far from it. It’s a vibrant, ever-changing, exciting profession. There are codes of ethics for anyone willing to abide by them, and all major universities have programs that are always full.

Yes, it must always change or risk becoming irrelevant.

Yes, it must adapt to new technologies like twitter (and learn how NOT to use them, like the fellow who trashed his client, FedEx, on twitter on the way to a meeting with them.)

Yes, there are a number of hucksters out there online.

But I would challenge labeling as “PR” the description Robert gives of the many people who are emailing him with a “pitch” consisting of the thought, “If you don’t mention me I’m going to go out of business.” That’s not PR, that’s an act of desperation. It’s not a professionally crafted pitch, it’s not respectful of the recipient, and it’s not representative of the values and standards for which the vast majority of PR people stand.

I suspect Robert Scoble is just down on PR because he gets a lot of bad pitches from those claiming to be in PR, or from those he ASSUMES are PR professionals.

But I would say to him that many people who claim they are in “PR” are not. They are in marketing (or in some variant thereof) and that profession, like PR, has its bad apples

For the record, PR isn’t the young woman who uses her “wiles” (and sometimes overtly sexually) to get men to hear a pitch, nor is PR the creepy guy who wants to “sell” an item to a "mark." That’s a salesman. The girl is like a model paid to stand next to a car at an auto show, NOT a PR professional. Those being targeted by these kinds of people and those seeking to HIRE PR pros should learn the difference, because it damages the profession.

And “marketing” is also a much misused name, and can mean anything from multilevel scam hucksters to “social media experts” claiming that they will “get your name out there” (whatever that means.) Their methods are rather dubious as are their credentials. 

A bit of a tangent here, but the use of the “marketing scam Webpage” is typical of this kind of hucksterism. It’s a very, very long page, with big bold type on the top, embedded videos, claims to “get rich quick” and a “free e-book” (or worse, a $40 one) followed by a check-marked list of benefits with quotes from imaginary previous buyers. Ugh. If anything, THOSE should be targeted by someone of Robert’s great influence online.

It’s also good to see a bit of a mini-meme and backlash against people calling themselves “twitter experts” and “social media experts” on  twitter recently. It’s overdue. Even Scoble recently said we shouldn’t call him a SM expert. But if anyone can justly and honestly lay claim to THAT title, it may be him. I just hope he learns to be more careful with the terms he throws around.


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