by Tina Mosetis
A publicist can help an author get media attention, set up book signings, arrange for speaking engagements, set up business networking opportunities, and much more. Having a publicist represent you is the most professional and effective way to promote your work. The media expects authors, artists, actors, and other talent to have a publicist. When determining what publicist would be best, it is important to have a good conversation to learn about how many years of experience the publicist has and how creative he or she is in terms of seeking all the various angles to pursue to put the spotlight on your work.
I believe it’s best to secure a publicist who has worked with a variety of clients, because a publicist with an extensive range of experience in different fields will have a broader perspective on ways to publicize your work.
One of the first things a publicist will do is help you develop a press kit that includes unique angles or points of view that will entice the media.
Pitching the press with a unique angle goes a long way. For example, years ago I represented an attorney who was very disgruntled with the legal system. In an effort to bring attention to his point of view, I created the National Committee for Prosecutorial Misconduct. Establishing this committee gave the media something to hang their hat on, because it was during a time when prosecutors were regularly in the news. My client’s committee got lots of national attention and he was interviewed extensively.
Knowing how to create an effective, eye-catching, precise pitch is one of the most important assets of a publicist, because you generally have one shot to reach out to the press and it has to be done right the first time.
A great press release is one that features an eye-catching event—something that can’t be seen everywhere. For example, I helped make the Great American Smokeout a national event by putting together wild press conferences featuring a dozen or more well-loved celebrities from the past who talked about why they were trying to quit smoking. But the event wasn’t just about the stars telling their stories; I made sure we offered several great photo opportunities by having them sing an original song together (one was written by Marvin Hamlisch) and pose for a fabulous photo of them tossing a five-foot-long cigarettes into the largest garbage truck in New York City! I even asked the diminutive Dr. Ruth to sit on an elephant crushing a giant cigarette! Newspaper photographers ate it up.
And I enlisted the model/actor Fabio, who was at the height of his romance-novel fame, to do a public-service video wherein he silently took the cigarette out of a young woman’s hand and dipped her as he leaned forward to give her a kiss, classic book-cover style. While Gone with the Wind-style music played in the background, the voiceover said, “Give her a kiss instead.” The video was such a great hit it played on virtually every news show in New York City.
The more pitch angles the publicist can create, the better. When I was asked to publicize the anniversary of the 42nd Street Library in Manhattan, I developed a day-long arts festival to attract all age groups and nationalities. We held a dozen free performances throughout the day in Bryant Park featuring everything from stilt walkers and break dancers to a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. The festival was so colorful and representative of New York that The New York Times ran a feature about the event and all the ethnic papers featured the talent.
For authors—depending on the type of book they have written—an expert publicist will know that the book may benefit from media stories related to various holidays. For example, a cookbook can prove very helpful to writers/producers working on stories for Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Mother’s Day. To promote a celebrity cookbook around Valentine’s Day, we invited a dozen New Yorkers, all named “Valentine,” to come to a well-known Manhattan restaurant to enjoy dishes made from recipes in the book. This crazy little event was featured in both The New York Times and the New York Daily News.
Many factors, including a client’s nationality or history, can play into getting press. For example, an Irish author I worked with was featured in Irish media outlets and at Irish organizations. Another author I represented had been in the Olympics. Sports publications were interested in her book.
One must always strategize carefully to impress the press. When I represented a large art collection of what are believed to be (until then) undiscovered paintings by Van Gogh, we hired a well-known art appraiser to guest-host a press conference featuring noted authorities from the art world displaying these paintings for the first time in the United States. The event received international attention due to both the extraordinary art work and the prominent people we had invited to the press conference.
It’s important that publicists be sure their clients are properly trained to deal with the media. Media training teaches clients about talking points, sound bites, what to wear on television, and how to handle potentially difficult questions from the press. A recent client was a brilliant man who wrote a terrific business book but had no formal training in making presentations. He just didn’t know how to engage an audience, how to work the stage, or how to make his presentation sizzle. After training him on video so he could see himself and learn from his mistakes, he became a very confident speaker who was paid a substantial fee for his very first corporate presentation.
So when you want to spotlight your book, your art, or any other project you are working on, it’s key to be thoroughly prepared to deal with the press and to be very creative. Do something no one else has done so that your event becomes newsworthy and will provide photo opportunities for the press.
As you can see, there are a plethora of avenues a professional publicist can take to help spotlight your project. The key is finding a highly experienced publicist who has a good track record and a personality that meshes with your style.
Tina Mosetis, 516-487-5866, www.MosetisPR.com, info@MosetisPR.com