In late February 2009, I went to Texas for media training with my publicist, Phenix and Phenix Literary Publicists (P&P). I flew into Austin where my campaign manager Shelby Sledge waited holding a sign with my name on it. She dropped me at a nice hotel.
The following morning Shelby picked me up and brought me to P&P's offices where another author already sat schmoozing with one of the trainers. P&P first took us on a tour of their facility, which consists of a number of offices and spacious rooms filled with books and posters of their more successful projects proudly displayed on the walls, and introduced us to many of the people I‘d dealt with over the past year by telephone and e-mail. There are seven publicists on the team.
The area where we spent the day was set up with two long tables, one for each author, a Media Training Guide binder, a copy of our book, and a list of sample questions. Before beginning class, we both sat in front of a camera and spontaneously answered a few questions. It was meant to show us how much we DIDN'T know prior to training. When asked the million-dollar question, “Tell us about your book,” I did, in a rambling sort of way.
Then we started with Workshop 1: Developing Your Message. Each of the five workshops had different teachers, and in every session I learned A LOT. Advice ranged from how to sit during an interview, thanking the interviewer, branding yourself as the “expert,” gaining third party credibility through endorsements, speaking in 10-second catch phrases or sound bytes, and being sure to answer four questions: what is my bottom-line message, why is my book unique, who makes me the expert on the topic, and where can the audience go for further information. We did mock interviews on the radio and television, which were critiqued.
As the day progressed, I didn’t get any better at answering questions. I actually got worse. There was simply too much instruction for me to take in and work with in one day. So, by the end of the grueling training sessions, when the camera was once again stuck in my face, and Shelby asked me to tell her about my book, I actually couldn’t.