paid to promote your book!
By Sandra Beckwith
Most authors spend money to promote their books, but some get paid to
They’re media spokespersons, hired by companies and organizations
to add credibility to a consumer product or service being promoted through
a publicity campaign. They are topic experts who have the credentials to
back their expertise. And they are paid $2,000 to $3,000 per day to help
a company meet its communications objectives by sharing key message points
through media interviews, while receiving impressive free media exposure
for their books.
The role of a media spokesperson: A media spokesperson has a contract with
an organization to fulfill specific obligations, which can range from participating
in a satellite media tour to appearing on national or local television
talk shows, or doing print or electronic interviews by phone. All of this
happens within a designated time frame and for a predetermined fee.
For example, the Soap & Detergent Association (SDA) and its public
relations agency recently developed a survey that would generate newsworthy
results. The topic was housework: Who’s doing it in American homes,
men or women? Not surprisingly, the survey revealed that even women who
work outside the home are still doing far more than half the housework,
and it’s causing tension among couples.
The SDA could have quoted a staff member in a press release announcing
the findings to the media, but this individual would not be qualified to
explain the survey results. So the SDA looked elsewhere for a spokesperson
to do newsworthy interviews . . . and found me.
As the author of Why Can’t a Man Be More Like a Woman?, a humorous
look at what makes men different from women, I write and speak about the
lighter side of gender differences. I have the credentials to explain the
survey results, offer tips on how women can get more help around the house
and suggest to men simple, easy steps they can take to help more without
first getting a domestic engineering degree.
Through it’s public relations firm, the SDA contracted with me for
three months for a range of media-related services, including traveling
to New York City and other locations for in-person interviews and doing
telephone interviews from my office.
In addition, I received valuable on-camera practice from a professional
media trainer who helped me link my anecdotes and experiences to the client’s
key message points. My goal, after all, was not to just talk about the
survey findings. It was to share specific SDA messages with the public.
How to find spokesperson assignments: Usually, they find you when a publicist
searches bookstores for relevant titles or the Internet for your topic.
Some companies rely on organizations such as Spokespersons Plus, which
specializes in finding qualified experts. Spokespersons Plus works much
like an executive recruiter. The client calls the firm and describes the
type of individual it needs; owner Deborah Durham searches her database
to identify pre-qualified potential matches. If the right person isn’t
in her system, she looks elsewhere for the perfect match.
Typically, the spokesperson candidate supplies the client company with
materials that verify topic knowledge (your book) and media experience.
A videotape with television interviews – even from local talk or
news programs – helps the client assess not only your level of interview
experience, but your personality, as well. You can be taught how to improve
your interview skills, but your inherent demeanor – relaxed, uptight
or professorial – can’t (and shouldn’t) be changed for
You can also contact companies marketing consumer products or services
with a logical connection to your topic and offer your services as a spokesperson.
But have a publicity campaign idea in mind before making the call so it’s
clear why they might benefit from working with you. Contact Spokespersons
Plus, too, but only if you can outline several possible consumer product
connections with your topic in a brief note to Deb@spokespersons.com.
How a spokesperson is paid: Spokesperson fees vary and are calculated in
different ways. Some contracts are based on a day rate while others have
fee amounts assigned to specific tasks. Travel days usually earn half the
individual’s day rate; travel expenses are reimbursed.
Media spokesperson work requires many skills – including an ability
to hold your own with hyperactive morning drive time radio personalities – so
it’s not for everyone. But if you believe you’re destined to
banter with Matt or Katie on “The Today Show” and haven’t
snagged that interview on your own, consider seeking a spokesperson assignment
and letting the pros secure it for you. Then all you’ll have to worry
about is what to wear!
Sandra Beckwith, the author
of Streetwise Complete Publicity Plans: How to Create Publicity That
Will Spark Media Exposure and Excitement, teaches the online “Book Buzz” class
for Freelance Success. Learn more at www.sandrabeckwith.com.