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by Kali Kross on Tuesday, July 12, 2011 at 8:55pm
When one first breaks into the industry of shameless self-promotion (wait—that’s not an industry; it is, however, a living…), the subject usually wants success FAST. And there will never be a shortage of fast-talking marketers to tell you how rich and how known they will “get” you FAST. But there is only one thing certain: they will “get” you.
You will be riled up on the prospect of being on the six o’clock news amidst other promises that are more steeped in lore than the promulgator’s wicked web of whoppers. But it’s not always a matter of a ‘wicked’ individual coming to feast on your tiny marketing budget. Often, it is a genuinely helpful friend or believer in your concept. While the intention may be noble, the outcome could equal a great deal of time spent spinning the wheels and inching forward or getting flat-out nowhere.
Divide up your potential market…
Most crucial than anything is to ensure that your marketing specialist is honest. Let me say that word again and spell it out: h-o-n-e-s-t. Think of your own cupboards and remember the golden rule in entertainment, especially. ‘Everyone wants to get paid.’
Who wouldn’t tell you what you want to hear if you were thousands of dollars desperate to hear it? Hec, send me a Paypal payment now, and I’ll write you whatever you want to read. For gas money included, I’ll even show up at your door and tell you in-person.
Well, not “I” as in *me*, but many will, and they’ll do it without qualm. Yet a reliable PR person will give you a clear concept of the kind of trade publications in which you’re likely to be featured first. Not only will we not promise you the Times today; we don’t want you in the Times today because you’re not polished enough as an interviewee to go rattling off to a national paper without clear directions from a trusted PR pro and without the passage of time during which your publicity agent may get to clearly understand you and your vision.
Conglomerate your interests…
The only element as pivotal to your cause as a professional and candid marketer is a knowledgeable one. Someone who doesn’t know your industry had better learn quickly. And to a degree, it comes as an odd benefit to you if the person isn’t as versed with your field. Not only will this person’s ears and eyes be more news-alert, but the person will have a welcome naïveté to journalists tired of hearing the same dead pitches from the same vultures.
The right PR person reads articles in your field every day as an act of business. The angle isn’t all pitch, pitch, pitch. In fact, the idea should be to name-drop you into articles already being printed. This, in turn, generates interest in your product for focused pieces.
The pitch then goes something like, “Artist A reacts to rumors about Artist B”. I’m sure you’ve seen these stories, and you may think, “Who gives a darn what Artist A thinks?” And the answer may truly be “no one,” but what we have here is excellent PR work on Artist A’s part.
Conquer and take all…
You don’t actually need a tip on this one, do you? Oh, but you *do*.
What happens from here will either create an open and yielding market for you or a strained one. Imagine being out at dinner with a couple who consistently bickers. It may be entertaining, but it’s more draining than anything. You and your PR person must be in complete collusion.
You must trust your pro to speak for you as a spokesperson and to groom you for interviews as an image consultant. Yes, there are things you just shouldn’t say, comments that you may think are harmless now, but they are ones that can cause strife later. Additionally, deferring to your pro in front of the newsmakers appears as though you’re running a serious operation, a real business as opposed to a ‘bidness’.
There are some CEOs who insist on the press having direct access to them, and that’s fine to be “lunch bag” chief. But if you want your business to step up to the leagues of Simmons, Gates, Buffet… You ponder how easily your average Times writer would be able to dial up any of the big wigs and rethink your milk and cookies on that one.
There’s a certain mystique that should be created around an executive/artist, and a publicist with know-how is an expert in turning you into a “Wiz” of sorts. You can “keep it real” once the writers get to you; but until they get to the door, you want them skipping (and preferably singing, too) down *your* yellow brick road.
Kali Kross is the nom de plume of a writer, professor, and marketing professional based in SoCal. Kross has served as a public relations representative to healthcare and non-profit organizations as well as technology, web, and entertainment companies and individuals. She has worked on campaigns like Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s “Lapdance” at the Sundance Film Festival; served as a media specialist for the University of Southern California (her alma mater), and written a regular column for BET.com. Besides her eleven-year-career as an English professor, Kross cites some of her most notable work in her legislative PR efforts, writing Congressional testimony for the COPA Commission and helping to trumpet the first, original web crawler software that protected children online.
I crave a simplicity that will deflate life’s complexity.