Last week I had a unique opportunity, especially for a publicist. I was asked to step out from behind the curtain to offer my knowledge and expertise about publishing on national television!
It was the “Today Show” on NBC. I’ve booked and escorted many, many authors to this show over the years. For some we’ve prepped with four hours of media training. For others who may have had media experience, we would coach them on making sure to mention their book, issue, or idea, even if they weren’t asked directly. We tell them what not to wear (black, white or red), and that we will see them in the green room before the segment. Simple.
Well guess what? It’s not that simple, and I’ve secretly known this, but to actually live it is an entirely different story. So here are the highlights:
Monday afternoon: Producer friend and colleague asks me if I know about self-publishing to which I answer “yes.” After checking with me to make sure I have been on camera in the past, she sends me to the segment producer for a phone meeting to make sure I can answer the questions related to the segment.
Tuesday morning: While waiting for a train to NYC, I talked to the producer for about 25 minutes and filled her in on my perspectives. She said it was a go if I would be available tomorrow–STOP!
(Did she say tomorrow? You mean I won’t have time for a haircut, manicure, or TV segment clothes shopping?)
Wednesday morning: Head to the studio in a town car that picks me up at 8:00AM. Arrive at studio. Hustle into hair and makeup and see the show is starting. First up, reality TV show stars who are parents with “alternative” parenting practices–all of us in the makeup room groaned. Next, a fuss about where the Franklin and Bash actors are and if they have shown up. A quick check on the walkie-talkie finds all is well and Franklin and Bash are “makeup ready.”
I stare into the mirror and think, I really need a haircut and why is my hair looking like a football helmet?
Still Wednesday morning: We are ready to go on. Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb have arrived. I and my co-guest (who is really the main attraction, a self-published author and wonderful person: Donna MacDonald) sit on the bar stools on set. I run my answers through my head and check to make sure that I’ve crossed my legs in the optimal position for those 10 TV pounds.
When we go live the first bit is a taped segment then a question to Donna. Now a question to me. Then a question to Donna. And…
The segment was over. They had run over on the earlier bits and we had to rush through and get off the set to make room for the finale.
And still Wednesday morning: I am returned home in the car.
I wonder: What did I say? Was my 30 seconds of fame alright? Will my comment spark any interest or inspire? Was it worth doing? Did I blow it?
In essence a thousand thoughts run around in my head, the ultimate one being that as a publicist who has “done” this hundreds of times, I should be an expert. But I will tell you that it is definitely an experience that is only learned through experience. Yes, I had many tools and a lot of information at my disposal, more than the average person might have. But it is not easy, not simple. It is building yourself up for a main event, and then coming down whether it goes according to plan or not. The fact that I often bustled my charges on to even more interviews after this one is a testament to their endurance. I wanted an ice cream sundae and a nap.
Friday: Haircut, thank goodness.