Media Escorts: Not What You Think (But More!)

“You get a very funny intimacy as media escorts, with not only the authors and publishers we work with, but also the people all around. The most important of whom are always as you come in: the security guards and doormen—not the producers of the shows.  There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make your author’s day go much more smoothly when you have a media escort.” – Kathi Kamen Goldmark

Looking for a way to enhance your publicity services? Encountering too many mishaps, author idiosyncrasies, frazzled nerves, and mangled schedules while trying to manage book tours alone? Maybe you should consider using a media escort service.

On January 31, the NCBPMA brought in seasoned media escorts David Golia of Golia Media Services, Naomi Epel of Naomi Epel & Associates, and former media escort Kathi Kamen Goldmark, as moderator, to provide straight talk about why media escorting is an important service to boost or safe-proof your business.  They’ve escorted a host of celebrity authors such as Al Gore, Jane Fonda, B.B. King, Ruth Reichel, Arianna Huffington, and Alexander McCall Smith.

Just what is a media escort?
For key authors, a media escort is hired in each market or city, by the publicist to assist and escort authors to scheduled events.  That person meets the author at the airport, takes them to all of their media appearances, book signings, radio shows; whatever is on the publicity schedule. They are there to handle any problems that may arise, including confusion about bookings (there are all kinds of things that can go wrong). They often do extra things such as help them to deal with small personal issues. They are a driver, pal, assistant, and publicist during the days spent with the author.

Why are book tours so important?
Book tours provide much value. “Getting that little 10 seconds with the author— the face time—really just keeps people’s interest,” explains David Golia. “When people go to the bookstores, there are a million books…” Author appearances draw people to the author.

Naomi Epel adds, “But it’s also [about] the booksellers. The booksellers are the ones who place the books. If an author meets a bookseller, the bookseller now has a face to go with the name.  …Also when they are doing a book reading, the bookstore has to buy more books and they have to display them to get people to come into the reading. So, it’s a lot of exposure for the title and cover of the book. That’s what I tell authors whenever we’re heading over to a reading.” Epel goes on to say, “There may not be anyone there, but what happens is the bookstore has bought a pile of books, they’re putting them in the front of the store, they’ve got them in the newsletter, and they’re talking about them. They are going to hand sell the books.”

Media escorts can provide so many invaluable helps to the author and the publicist and really save the day; and in some cases, the author’s reputation. They may include:
•    Helping the publicist to schedule logistics that are doable
•    Preparing authors for what to expect on book tours and events
•    Sharing insight with the author about the different personalities they will encounter
•    Providing companionship, when needed
•    Helping the author with last minute logistical problems
•    Getting authors to events early
•    Being the go-between for authors and event producers
•    Encouraging the author to feel “up” and good about themselves during the tour
•    Shielding the author from unproductive time drains and embarrassing moments
•    Helping authors navigate fears during the tour
•    Helping the author look important (with the presence of an assistant)
•    Helping the author with small personal or tour-related tasks

What are media escorts’ top 4 must-haves from publicists?
In order for media escorts to do the professional job that publicists love and expect, they must-have:

1)    The publicist’s name and cell phone number, the book title, and the author’s name on each page of the schedule
2)    The schedule far enough in advance to:
a.    Check the logistics and remedy any impossible scheduling
b.    Allow the escort to provide insights regarding sympathetic or compatible producers, organizations, and highlight or advise of known similar or special interests between parties.
3)    The author’s cell phone number (Authors do not answer hotel phones anymore.)
4)    The author’s real name— if their book is under a pen name (or the name that they are traveling under)

The job of a media escort is to help your author attend their media commitments on time, keep their interviews on point, and be a public relations ambassador for the author-friendly tour city. They hold down the tour schedule and help to solve or minimize any unforeseen incidents. As Kathi Kamen Goldmark puts it, “The mettle of an escort is tested by how they solve the tricky problems.”

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