Bookzilla is back in his bunker polishing up his memoir as the AJC Decatur Book Festival team recaps the annual Labor Day weekend event.
While the more than 550 volunteers make the largest independent book festival in the country event run smoothly, it’s the PR team at Lenz that gets the word out to the estimated 70,000 or so attendees.
After running PR for the festival for six consecutive years, Lenz Public Relations Director Ryan Klee calls the festival “a great model of integrated marketing and PR.”
“We’ve learned you can’t just do one thing and be successful. We combine our work with TV, radio, and print media with a huge push in social media to get great results,” he said.
PR season for the festival kicks off with a media launch in mid June when Lenz invites local media and VIPs for an announcement of the year’s keynote speaker. That event is always followed by a flurry of attention as releases go out to local, regional, and national media outlets.
This year’s two big magazine mentions were in O, the Oprah Magazine, and Garden and Gun.
Publisher’s Weekly previewed the event, as did local magazines, including Decatur Living, where the festival scored the cover story with pictures of nationally known authors who live in the Decatur area. Atlanta magazine featured a review of Decatur author Amanda Kyle Williams’ The Stranger You Seek that debuted at the festival.
Television coverage came the day of the festival from Atlanta’s 11 Alive, while radio stories spanned the dial during the week before the festival — on stations from Dave FM to WABE to Christian station FISH 104.
Print media made a big splash for the festival with daily stories in the week leading up to the event in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution — the festival’s title sponsor — and features in Creative Loafing, The Champion, Atlanta INtown, and local Neighbor weeklies.
But it was social media buzz that took the city and the region by storm. Lenz supplied information to popular online news sites and bloggers such as Atlanta PlanIt, Patch, Decatur Metro, and Baby Got Books, while sharing a daily stream of updates on Facebook and Twitter. By the start of the festival, the Decatur Book Festival page had more than 4,000 “likes” and Bookzilla BookMonster’s personal page had more than 500 friends.
Created for the 2009 festival by Lenz Creative Director Scott Sanders, the book monster — with an epic story worthy of a graphic novel — grew in scope each year with the festival celebrity even generating an interview on the popular Scout Mob site.
The one-on-one interview between Scout Mob and Bookzilla took social media marketing to a new level, with Bookzilla talking about his blog, where he enjoys hanging out on the Decatur Square, and top tips on things to do at the festival:
Then there was both a post and photo of Bookzilla on Smithsonian.com’s Dinosaur Tracking blog on Sept. 6, which answered the age-old question of “What’s big, green, and loves books?
Klee called the massive PR effort a huge success because of its combined focus on traditional and social media.
“We told our story to all the right people, and the effort paid off,” he said.