To create the illusion that you have a professional public relations representative, give her a name and create professional-looking letterhead for that person. This should be no great feat for all of you who create characters everyday. Just don't go to far and start giving this person flowers on secretary's day. Place all your publicity materials on this letterhead including cover letters, press releases, pitch letters, question and answer sheets and biography pages.
When you answer the phone and there is a call for your alter-ego, you can handle it one of two ways:
There are several ways to initiate contact with the media. Most of the time phone calls will suffice; however, if you intend to cover several cities (for something like a booksigning tour) you may want to use what's known in the PR profession as a pitch letter. If you've ever written a query letter you have a good start on your skills to build a pitch letter. Very few people understand that the pitch letter is even more important than a press release when it comes to author PR.
Very similar in purpose to a query, the pitch letter is meant to gain a media person's attention and make them ask for more. Most PR people learn how to craft a pitch letter from trial and error (and advice when they can find it.)
Pitch Letter Format:
1st paragraph - introduce yourself and the subject. This is were you need a hook but one that explains exactly what you have to offer, who you are, when the event is happening and where it will be.
2nd paragraph - explain why the producer or editor/reporter should have you on the show or include you in the article in their publication.
For city and regional media, give them a local angle. It can give a local example of a national trend, be related to the community or showcase you as a local person.
An example would be if you saw an article in the Wall Street Journal how writing a book can be a quick road to success. Copy the article and attach it to a pitch letter that offers to give the reporter an inside look at what really happens to authors and how many people are swindled out of their money by vanity presses.
For national television, radio or print media, tie yourself to a national trend or incident. If you have a book coming out and want to get on the radio, tie the controversy of America's obsession with the Clinton "sex" scandal to the misinterpretation of romance books as "sex" books as a comment on our society. Remember that reporters are always looking for material tied to a holiday, information that is timely or gives a new slant on a current trend or issue.
3rd paragraph - explains your qualifications, experience and background and how you can be reached.
Even with a pitch letter you will have to use the phone to initiate follow-up contact with the media. When you make your follow-up calls, there are some techniques which will make your alter-ego sound like a PR pro:
Hi Michael. This is Theresa Meyers and I'm calling to discuss an interview exclusive for the Leeza Show. Do you know one of the biggest problem Americans have in their relationships is confusing sex with romance? Author Amy Gerret, can shed some light on why society is failing to keep relationships meaningful. She'll be in Los Angeles on August 25th on a book tour. Would you like to have her give your viewers her top ten ways to get romance back in a relationship? I sent you her latest book, In The Storm, and a packet of materials last week. You can reach me weekdays from 9-5pm pacific time. My name again is Theresa Meyers and my number is 602-555-7373.
Along with these there are some definite don'ts.