It was late February in Nashville. The Religious Broadcaster’s Convention was in full swing. For me, it was a form of mostly controlled chaos that involved working with the media, authors, book signings, and slapping hands. Who would have thought just two months later many of us would be avoiding such behavior? Aside from Secret Service who blocked the entrance to the Press Room, I left Nashville feeling good about the thirty-five interviews and good connections.
The following week tornados ripped through Nashville. Then COVID hit with a different kind of violence. Publishers shut down their warehouses. Radio stations went on pause, and several downsized staff or stopped their talk shows indefinitely. I worked with several authors who launched books in the middle of the mess. They ended up short-changed. But there was no way to anticipate what we have now all come to deal with on a daily basis.
Change is an inescapable part of life. We face the unexpected and the disappointing. How we respond in these times may not solve our problems but going about business as usual, even if that were possible, is simply not going to work. My own response to the publicity challenge was to look at every author and
ask myself, “What can they contribute toward the challenges facing the country?” I worked with therapists like Dr. Gregg Jantz on stress and anxiety, Dr. Andy Walsh with his doctoral degree in molecular biology and immunology, and homeschool parents like Amy Rienow. In other words, I adapted to the reality as it was rather than as I had always known it to be.
It is easy for us to get locked into old ways that may have worked before. My dad used to say, “If it isn’t broken, don’t try and fix it.” I think he might have been wrong. Your car may not break down immediately after the oil light comes on but it is a clear warning you cannot afford to ignore. My response to the initial months of the pandemic was to create lists of authors who could speak on various topics. I asked previous clients if they wanted to be included. I adjusted the talking points of existing authors and worked out topics they could rightfully discuss.
The way to promote during a pandemic is to be relevant to what’s happening. The same is true for a minister or teacher. As Christian communicators a big part of our faith is trying to connect in ways that help people, draw people, and change people. As the Apostle Paul said, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” The methodology may need to change but the basic message stays the same. If you are looking for ways to promote your book or ministry look at ways you can connect with the fears or challenges your audience is facing today. As the late leadership writer, Peter Drucker said, “Strategies are not something you hope for; strategies are something you work for.” Today, perhaps more than ever, we adjust and work for new strategies to meet people where their greatest needs are.