One of the things I love about my job is solving problems.

Sure, it's great to have a client walk in the door who has a unique product or service, solid credentials and a compelling angle. It makes the work easier, certainly, but it sometimes is more satisfying to solve what a client thinks is an unsolvable problem in a creative way.

One such client was (and still is, by the way) Darlene Quinn, author of the novel Webs of Power. She had been handled by another PR agency previously and spent quite a bit of money to get very limited coverage. She came to us needing new representation, but very skeptical about how we would handle her pitch. Our method, as many regular readers know, is to approach the client as an expert in their field, and then promote their expertise as a way of getting media interest for them and their message.

In Darlene's case, her novel was a marriage of Dynasty and Macy's, a story of power and intrigue at the highest echelons of the retail fashion industry. When we asked her what inspired her to write it, she revealed she had been a top executive at the Bullocks Wilshire department store chain. Furthermore, she was friends with other top executives at some very upscale department stores, and had enough knowledge about the inside of the business that she could tell a few good stories (with the names changed to protect the guilty and the innocent, of course).

And that's when we knew we had it. We knew that promoting her simply as a new author of a racy novel that reeked of money and power wasn't going to get us very far. There are more than 370,000 new books published every year, and casting her as one of those numbers just meant that she'd be regarded as another can of beans on the shelf.

However, how many experts on the high-end retail industry are there in the media? Not many, because many top executives don't want to offend anyone else in the business, even if it's a competitor. They never know when they might have to ask them for a job. Not a problem for Darlene, however, who had made a commitment to being an author for the rest of her working days. While she would never overtly say anything to offend anyone - that's just not her way - she did have the freedom to tell the truth about the retail business.

Soon, she was being booked on radio and television to talk about the retail industry and its struggles to get through the recession, which was just starting around that point in time. With tons of coverage in the print media, more than 120 radio interviews and several national TV interviews, Darlene is now the undisputed expert in the media on retail matters. In addition, she was able to expose her book to millions of readers, listeners and viewers. Coming full circle, we're looking forward to her new campaign in the fall to promote her new book, Twisted Webs, the sequel to Webs of Power.

More than that, Darlene is branching out and becoming a commentator on the retail industry as a whole. Watch the Internet for her next interview, which is about how retail giant Wal-Mart is trying to fix a serious mistake which cost them many thousands of customers late last year. I'd tell you about it, but Darlene is really the expert on that!

There's a lesson here that can be learned and applied by anyone with a consumer message, regardless of whether you are selling a book, a product or a service. The lesson is that if you're interested in being in the news, or interviewed on radio and TV, there is a precise formula you must follow.

1. Follow the news and look for news items that are relevant to your topic and that you can comment on as an expert.

2. Develop your message around those news items that will provide valuable information to the public.

3. Identify the local or national media you feel is a good match. Read their column, watch their show on TV, or listen to their radio show. Before you approach them, know the format of their shows and types of topics that would interest them.

4. When contacting them, never, ever pitch your company, your product or service. Only pitch yourself as an expert with solutions to problems their audience is concerned about.

5. Understand who their audience is so you can engage the editor or host with your pitch and, make sure to give them all the information they need to make an immediate decision to interview you.

Author's Bio: 

For 20 years Marsha Friedman has been a leading authority on public relations as CEO of EMSI. Go to www.emsincorporated.com to signup to receive her free weekly PR Tips today! More resources for authors can also be found at www.publicitythatworks.com. Or call at 727-443-7115, ext. 202, or email at mfriedman@emsincorporated.com.