A good publicist should customize a plan for your campaign that fits with your project, your goals, and your personality. It should not be a one-size-fits-all publicity plan. Ask for a written plan, and also ask for activity reports as they go along. This can come in the form of written reports, verbal reports, or forwarding you notices of "hits" (PR results).
Some publicists can also help with image consulting and/or author branding. If youiare interested in this aspect, ask about it when you interview publicists. They can also help with your speaker kit, event kits, and sometimes even speaker booking.
Ask if they coordinate blog tours.
Your publicist will love you if you brainstorm with her on your campaign, and are open to both small and large PR opportunities. The goal is to create a buzz via grassroots viral spread of your name and your book's name. The more your name shows up online, the higher-up in the search engine your project will show up. That's just one of many reasons why to accept as many PR opps as possible, and (your publicist can help) make sure they're a good match for your goals.
Don't have unrealistic expectations about your publicist or PR campaign. Many (writers) assume they will get on Oprah if they hire a publicist. They assume their sales will soar. There is no rhyme or reason in this industry. Sometimes we will get a national interview, but the sales numbers don't increase like we hope they will. Other times, there are several small PR opps, and sales surge. It just takes the right timing, gentle follow-up with media and reviewers, and perseverance.
Five Tips For Writers About Publicists
... from Kathy Carlton Willis, reprinted here with permission: