Trouble at Twilight? (When Good PR Intentions Aren’t Enough)

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When I went to the store yesterday, I noticed several tables of the same hardcover book placed prominently near the checkout. Since books always intrigue me, I decided to take a closer look. I discovered that the book was a new release from the author of the popular Twilight series, Stephenie Meyer.

As a matter of fact, the book was Meyer’s new novella, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, released in hardcover just a few days ago on June 5th. (Bree Tanner was a relatively minor character in the Eclipse novel, although the character will supposedly be more prominent in the movie.)

With the popularity of the other Twilight series books, which were ultimately made into movies, you’d think that these new Stephenie Meyer books would be flying off the table. Actually, the opposite was true. No one seemed to be paying any attention to the books whatsoever.

A little Internet research uncovered the problem, which is related to the way that the book was publicized.

Consider the following:

  • $1.00 from the sale of each hardcover book (which retails for about $13, but can already be found on some discount sites for under $10)  will be donated to Red Cross.
  • However, as a reward to fans, the book was released online here free of charge

Do you see the contradiction?

Unless a fan has a burning desire to actually own a physical copy of the book, fans don’t need to actually buy the book in order to read it.

Apparently, a lot of fans must have realized that there’s no need to buy the book because the Publisher’s Weekly Shelf Talker blog called The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner “a bookstore dud.” In plain English this means that the book just isn’t selling.

Now, admittedly two very nice PR gestures were made in promoting The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. Wanting to donate a portion of the sales to the American Red Cross is commendable. Wanting to reward fans by giving them something extra for free is also commendable.

But, the publicity itself was almost a conflict of interest. It’s as though two good ideas collided.

When you add these two good ideas together and try to use them both to promote the same book the results have turned out to be less than successful. The effect was one misguide PR campaign.

How would you have promoted Stephenie Meyers new novella? What could her PR agency have done better?

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