Media Magnetism: How to Attract the Favorable Publicity You Want and Deserve - a business book by Christina Hamlett

Inspiration often arrives at unexpected moments and in diverse forms. Media Magnetism, for instance, owes its origins to a pack of Crest Glide dental floss.
I had been sent by the local newspaper to do a feature story on the latest charity project of a prominent philanthropist. He graciously invited me to his office, pointed me to a comfortable chair and listened with interest to my prep-talk on how the interview would proceed as I set up my audio recording equipment on his desk.

Within the first minute of my starting the tape, he casually reached into his shirt pocket and withdrew a white plastic container. I initially thought that it contained breath mints and was, thus, perplexed when he unspooled a long strand of dental floss. Having interviewed former smokers who occasionally rely on "props" to give their hands something to do, I assumed this was just one of the quirkier choices.

You can imagine my reaction when he began using it for its actual purpose. If you've ever tried to decipher what someone is saying when they're in a cavernous mid-yawn, try doing it when they're aggressively going after mystery particles on their back molars. Over the course of 20 minutes – although it seemed much longer – he not only executed an intensely methodical cleaning worthy of a dental hygienist but also deposited all of his floss shrapnel in a messy, discolored mound right next to my microphone. No matter how scintillating or insightful the takeaway value of the feature story which was subsequently published, I can no longer see this man's name or hear about the good deeds of his organization without recalling that unflattering image and feeling instantly repulsed.
I'm guessing that's probably not the message he was going for.
What possesses an otherwise articulate, intelligent and well groomed person to perform personal hygiene tasks in front of a total stranger?  Were his actions a purposeful show of disdain for media intrusions on his life? Did he have someplace else he had to be immediately after our appointment and was just multi-tasking to save a trip to the bathroom? Had I inadvertently donned my cloak of invisibility and caused him to think he was talking to himself?

You're right. There is neither an acceptable excuse for the full-frontal floss fest nor a rewind button to pretend it didn't happen.
Although he currently holds the unofficial record for bizarre interview behavior, he's also by no means an isolated case when it comes to putting the wrong foot forward. Interactions with media professionals sometimes have a funny way of making people say too much, say too little, or fall victim to the conversational equivalent of a wardrobe malfunction. No matter how accomplished they are at running a business, raising money or engaging in creative endeavors such as writing or art, these talents may not be evident to the reading/watching/listening public if they're predisposed to view every reporter as (1) their new best friend or (2) their worst enemy.
Some of this, I think, derives from how they were raised as children. At one end of the spectrum are those who were taught that it's not polite to toot your own horn, that if you just sit quietly long enough you'll eventually be noticed and can then shrug off any praise with a meekly mumbled "Oh, I didn't really do that much." At the other end are those with parents who implanted an entitlement gene at birth that makes the bearer feel s/he can get away with anything and that all of it is worth everyone else's undivided attention. (I once had an interviewee, for example, who instructed me to pick up doughnuts and a latte for her on my way to her office because she hadn't had breakfast that morning. Yes, seriously. I swear I don't make this stuff up.)

As I began sharing these anecdotes with my associates, it became clear that a book like this was needed to address the interests of three types of readers:
·         The first is to demystify what should – and shouldn't – go into media relations opportunities for workaday people and how they can effectively and confidently position themselves for a turn in the spotlight.
·         The second demographic is the newcomer to PR assignments – the freelance journalists, photographers, image consultants, account managers and nonprofits seeking the best venue to deliver their respective messages.
·         Thirdly, this book seeks to encourage and enlighten DIY entrepreneurs on a shoestring budget – individuals who design their own ads, manage opt-in newsletters, and use social media platforms as their primary marketing tool.
None of this content would be possible, of course, without the invaluable tips, insights and "been there/done that" advice of my two dozen media industry contributors. If you want to learn how to endear yourself to the press, attract great PR without blowing your budget, and survive awkward moments, this is the book that will make your business ready for its close-up.
Christina Hamlett