Today marks the unveiling of our new partnership with Graf-Martin Communications Inc. We will be partnering with these PR experts to provide authors with a host of excellent new services to help market books even more effectively. We sat down with Ellen Graf-Martin, Founder & President, to learn more about this fantastic company.
WAP: How did Graf-Martin get started?
EGM: Our agency started as an ‘out of the ashes’ story when my employer, RG Mitchell, declared bankruptcy in September 2008. Within days, two of the publishers I’d worked with at RG Mitchell asked if I’d continue doing PR for them, and one, Baker Publishing Group, asked if I would consider starting my own agency. My husband and I saw that God was opening a door for us, and told Him that we’d keep walking through it until He told us to quit. Six years later, we’re still enjoying the journey!
WAP: What is your favourite aspect of what you do?
EGM: I love seeing connections happen, and making marketing simple for our clients. So often we hear people saying that they know they need to do their marketing, build an online presence, develop a product launch, or create and implement a PR campaign, etc. but have no idea where to start. It is so satisfying to be able to say, with confidence, that we’ll take care of it for them—making what seems overwhelming totally achievable!
WAP: You have been in working with media outlets for over a decade—a lot has changed in how we do media in that time! How do you adapt to a constantly changing industry?
EGM: Over the last decade a lot has changed. In many ways, a marketer’s job has doubled. All the marketing activities we used to do offline now need to happen online as well. We’ve also needed to adapt to be better listeners—paying careful attention to what consumers are saying, so that we can be a valued part of their conversations and thinking, rather than just more noise. Adapting means staying flexible, and looking to new ways to do things. For us, it has meant developing a wonderful network of Canadian bloggers through Nuts About Books, who regularly review books and products for us. We are so grateful for these great people who are passionate about what they do, and who are often some of the most voracious readers we know! We’ve also built on the personal relationships we had with key ministries, churches, denominations, and organizations across Canada in developing Resourcing Leaders. These people of influence regionally and nationally need to know what new resources are being developed for them, and we’re happy to let them know!
We’re also really excited about Spark digital street team platform. Years ago, independent bands used street teams to share the word about their music at street level, by word of mouth. Today’s fans of books, music, movies and other great resources are just as glad to use their online networks to share what they’re enthusiastic about—and we love rewarding them with free books, movie tickets, and other great prizes!
WAP: How has social media impacted you and your clients?
EGM: We have so many more opportunities to listen, share, and be found because of social media! It does mean that we need to be savvy about what we’re sharing, and stay on top of trends, changes and new developments. Strategic online advertising has shown great results for a number of our clients, and diligently, authentically, and intentionally crafting online platforms have proven to be of very high value for us as an agency, as well as for our clients. We want to ‘practice what we preach’, taking opportunities to learn more about blogging, content creation, advertising, what works, and what doesn’t!
WAP: How does your Traditional Media Outreach package compare with your Online Platform Builder?
EGM: Our Traditional Media Outreach package is what clients often think of as publicity. In it, we’ll craft an effective media or press release, and distribute it nationally. We’re also glad to offer coaching for authors once they secure that coveted interview opportunity! Although online activity is crucial, we don’t want to neglect our traditional media outlets—radio, television, and print. There are fabulous groups doing really valuable media work across Canada, and we think they’re an important part of any publicity efforts. We have seen Amazon rankings jump drastically day over day, based simply on one interview!
With our Online Platform Builder, we start by inspecting an author’s online foundation—assessing how, where and by whom they’ll be found online, what we can do to either start building that platform or the best ways to tidy it up or renovate it so that the author can be heard and, ultimately, sell more books, impacting more lives! Our in-house online marketing expert will do one-on-one coaching with authors where they can ask questions and make the very most of their marketing investment!
WAP: How can an author tell what package is right for them?
EGM: We would typically tell an author to start online. When you’ve got a strong online presence, by social media, website, or blog, and are easily found, you’ll be able to maximize all other activities. You can do the best interview in the world, but if listeners can’t find you, you’ve lost them.
Once you’ve got your platform tidied up, now it’s time to start media outreach and working to secure interviews, reviews, and other attention-grabbing activities. The Traditional and Online packages truly work together to make the most of the opportunities you’ve got!
WAP: What’s one common mistake that authors tend to make in using social media?
EGM: Not realizing how important it is to consistently and compellingly build relationship with your social media ‘friends’. One local author recently took a trip to the town her novel was set in. It was so fun for us to follow along as she took photos of various book locations, and figure out if we had imagined the river, waterfalls and inn accurately. Things like this go a long way to build intrigue and sell your book!
As the Founder & President of Graf-Martin Communications, Ellen Graf-Martin brings years of experience in marketing, publicity and business development along with ministry and non-profit organization involvement. This experience has served Graf-Martin Communications’ growing list of values-based clients well, providing them with reliably excellent, high-impact, high-value integrating marketing, branding and publicity campaigns.
With a passion for helping values-based organizations tell their stories well, Ellen has enjoyed her work as a marketing, branding and resource consultant for several national and international non-profit organizations including World Vision Canada, The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, Power to Change and Operation Mobilization.
Prior to founding her own agency, Ellen worked for Canada’s largest national inspirational book distributor as Manager of Media & Consumer Relations, initiating and developing communications and promotions strategies for top-level authors and publishing brands. Ellen has arranged national Canadian campaigns for authors such as Max Lucado, Dr. Kevin Leman, Dr. Gary Chapman, “The Royal Chef” Darren McGrady, Pattie Mallette (better known as Justin Bieber’s Mom), Marcus Buckingham and the bestselling authors of “Mennonite Girls Can Cook”.
An avid coffee lover, enthusiastic foodie and creative craft designer born and raised on Vancouver Island, BC, Ellen and her family now live in Southwestern Ontario. A strong commitment to personal and professional growth and excellence means that Ellen puts her whole heart into whatever she does.