Marji Ross

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

Yesterday, I woke up to a media firestorm. The front pages of The Wall Street Journal and The Philadelphia Inquirer were ablaze with news about former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' new book. On TV, the babble-heads were babbling madly about it. This was huge news. Never in memory had a former cabinet official crapped all over the sitting president and vice president who had been his bosses.

At the Publishing Business Conference & Expo in late March, I chatted briefly with Marji Ross, president and publisher of the archconservative Regnery Publishing, who just may be the smartest PR person on the planet.

On her watch, Regnery has had 53 titles on the New York Times Best-Seller list in the past 10 years—a heart-pounding 35% of all Regnery titles published.

How does she do it? Prior to publication of a new book, her PR machine goes dark for a month. When books are in stores and on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com, the author—Laura Ingraham, Newt Gingrich, David Limbaugh, Ann Coulter or whomever—is everywhere with guest shots on cable TV, call-in conservative radio, newspaper interviews and blasts out to 1 million e-mail addresses.

Check out my column from March 18, 2008: “Blitzkrieg PR: How to Launch a Book, a Product, a Service—or Anything Else.”

“Never lay odds of more than 3-to-1,” said my wonderful colleague, the late Mike Kelly. I will break that rule and lay those odds that President Barack Obama will best Marji Ross’s mastery of public relations and publicity.

MacRae Ross was a client many years ago and a great guy. He taught me a lot. Everybody that knew him loved him. Mac was smart, bubbling with energy, a devout rugby player, great conversationalist and party animal. I heard that he married a lady named Marji and became a father. But he was in the Washington, D.C., area while my wife, Peggy, and I were living in Connecticut, so we lost touch. Last year, I was deeply saddened to hear Mac had died of pancreatic cancer in 2006. He was so very young. In the July 16, 1998, issue of Fast Company, Lisa

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