'Houdini' secures an AP feature

Associated Press, October 28

Associated Press, October 28

Who were your clients, and what were their media goals?

Bruce Bobbins: Our clients were William Kalush and Larry Sloman, authors of The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero. The new book was being released by Simon & Schuster's Atria division, but the authors felt it wasn't getting enough push beyond book reviewers. They wanted us to create [additional] buzz.

The AP is known for syndicated hard news, but what made it a good target for a book-themed feature story?

Bobbins: AP goes to thousands of outlets, so the right hit can literally reach millions. I had worked with AP feature writer Larry McShane before and knew he liked pop culture stories. It turns out he'd also interviewed one of the authors in the past, so when I pitched him directly on this book, he was immediately interested.

Is the Houdini name well-known enough to serve as a news hook on its own?

Bobbins: There had been other Houdini books, but we highlighted new information in this book that Houdini was a British and US spy who may have been murdered. With the authors' help, we also secured the participation of people who could speak about him. One of them was Teller of Penn and Teller, who ended up being quoted in the story.

Did you media train the authors? Did you offer other support materials?

Bobbins: Both authors had done interviews before, but I did help them sharpen their messages. We also provided McShane with a galley of the book and photos that could run with the story.

What was the impact of the hit?

Bobbins: The AP story ran in more than 150 newspapers and triggered tons of other media interest. The publicity made the book [hit the] top 10 on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com and has helped it reach 19 on The New York Times' Best Seller List.

Name: Bruce Bobbins, EVP, Dan Klores Communications (New York)
Placement: Associated Press, October 28

Pitch timeline: One week

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