Monday, September 28, 2009

TIP Sheet: Business of Being Neighborly

Whether times are tough or smooth, it's always a smart strategy to take full advantage of your pluses, and location can be one of them.

Hit the pavement and start shaking hands with your neighbors. Introduce yourself, your business, and ask questions about services people may need that you can accommodate.

For example, if you have a restaurant that needs more foot-traffic, reach out to the businesses around you. Devise a cash-friendly happy hour and invite neighbors to it. Pass out samples of food and hand out business cards or coupons. There’s a lot of business to be had in being neighborly.


Location. Location. Location!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Big Strategy. Small World.

Ideally, the best crisis management employs a plan that was put in place before the crisis presented itself. With certain, predictable situations, it’s easy to imagine all the things that can go wrong. But, when it comes to taking a brand or person overseas, it’s more difficult to foresee exactly what can and will go awry.

In 2007, Richard Gere was supporting an AIDS awareness campaign in Delhi alongside Bollywood beauty Shilpa Shetty. Gere jokingly hugged Shetty and kissed her cheek. The result was effigies of the two burned in streets and arrest warrants issued for both of them by a court in Jaipur.

Apparently, what they did was illegal! They violated India’s public obscenity laws. Gere issued a sincere apology and eventually the situation calmed itself.

Every city and every country has its own psychology, philosophies, and laws. This means you can’t relate to the public in Korea with the same strategies you use to relate to New York. You can easily offend and enrage, and in Gere’s place, break laws and cause an international incident. There’s no way to know all the moves that will offend, even when hiring a consultant. Just have an outlined plan in place, react quickly and intelligently when the unimaginable happens, and sincerely apologize where you can.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

GOING PUBLIC: What to know before branding YOU

It never hurts to know the right people, but sometimes what's more important is who knows you.

Nowadays, everyone from the CEO of a sole proprietorship to junior executives with dreams of getting that senior-level promotion are stealing a page from Hollywood and welcoming the power of publicity. Many business people choose to do some of their own PR by letting media outlets know that they’re available for “expert opinion” quotes on various subjects, pursuing speaking engagements, and pitching future book ideas.

The media climate is changing. Bill Gates is a celebrity and "Brand YOU" is all the buzz. In an economy of slim job pickings, a little publicity can give a big leg up on the competition and create avenues for an executive to become a commercial entity. A profile in Lucky can turn into a promotion, unexpected job offer, even a Crest commercial. Who knows?

Since the fame game doesn't always have clean cut rules or paths, it helps to mentally prepare for what possibly lies ahead. Before you call your sorority sister at Portfolio to pitch a story on you- accepting the following facts can save your future branded self a lot of grief:

+ Know thyself.
Have an idea of how you DON’T want to be seen in the spotlight before it shines upon you.

+ Realize that the road is long and winding.
In an idyllic world, brands are built overnight. In reality, it usually takes at least 5 years. Any future brand must remember the legacy is greater than the currency.

+ Learn how to take a hit.
Going public with your image opens you up to good, bad, and ugly reviews. Whether it’s someone refuting you on Twitter or backlash from company peers, it won’t all be applause and accolades.

+ You must walk the walk! You must talk the talk!
If you’re going to be a brand, act like a brand. Successful brands approach the think tank everyday with brand consistency in mind.

+ Keep your eyes on the road.
Branding yourself might not brand your company. And your company might resent you for it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The TIP Sheet: Being Pitch Perfect

Anyone who’s ever received a letter or email addressed to “Dear valued customer,” or “Dear Sir/Madame” knows how uninspiring and deflating the experience is. If you can’t address a person individually, why do it at all?

Pitches are no exception. Tailoring pitch letters is fundamentally important for connecting to the media outlet being targeted. An editor at Glamour probably seeks completely different story content than an editor at BBC, so never address them the same or give them a generic pitch.

Know the media outlet being pitched, get as specific as possible with the details of your story ideas, explain why their audience will be interested in what you’re promoting, and get that particular editor excited!

Remember, everyone likes feeling special.

From the July/Aug 2009 issue of GOINGPUBLIC, a 720 PR newsletter

Monday, September 21, 2009

3 Questions: Shedrack Anderson Is Future-Perfect

Shedrack Anderson III has shown incredible range with roles that include NBC's "The Unauthorized Story of Diff'rent Strokes" for which he played the infamous Todd Bridges, the coming-of-age college stepshow drama "Stompin" opposite Sinbad and Vanessa Bell Calloway, Lion's Gate horror "Drive Thru," the monstrous bear thriller "Grizzly Park," and his feature film directorial debut with the horror "Blood River."

With a career that covers both television and film, Anderson has appeared in the hit teen series "Just Deal" as the lovable Jermaine Green and starred as Tommy in Lifetime's "Gracie's Choice" alongside Kristen Bell, Diane Ladd and Anne Heche. He’s also recognized as Rudy in 20th Century Fox's "FAT ALBERT" as well as guest star appearances on the television series "Boston Public," "The Parkers," "The Division," and Disney's hit show "Phil of the Future."

He sat down with us to discuss PR, the future of movie-making, and what every 21st Century Indie Filmmaker needs to know:

GP: You've had great success starring on TV shows and in feature films. Now you're making your own films. What are the differences in promoting your film versus your individual self?

SA: The biggest difference is Distribution. When you are promoting yourself as an actor, you take meetings, auditions, do interviews and photo opps with the notion that you are selling a product that requires someone else to see you and hire you for the use of your skills. That company then makes a product for sale and you are paid a fee and a percentage for your likeness or the character you portray. When you make your own movies, you create a product that, through promotion and distribution, people can buy directly. It’s one less
link in the chain to connect on a business level.

GP: What has media taught you about connecting to your audience and fans?

SA: Media shows that people get bored much faster than they used to. We’re moving in a direction that’s going to revolutionize the way humans occupy their time. I think different media will be used for different things. Short cell phone movies will be 5 or 6 minutes while direct download 3D movies will saturate America. When you make a connection with an audience, it has to have a similar thread in order to create a bond with the fans so they keep downloading more. Over the years, as I’ve become an adult and my fans have aged with me, I’ve learned to stay open to all possibilities. Media and style are constantly changing from day to day. I’m working on video game platform movies where you chose the fates. I think the key is to say less and see more... then make it happen.

GP: What is a fact about publicity that you think every actor transitioning into directing or producing should know?

Publicity is an essential part of the movie making process. In order to have a successful career, whether it
be directing, acting or producing, you have to have a strategic plan in order to achieve your ultimate goal... getting the masses to respond. You can have the greatest film in your pocket or be the greatest actor, but what use is it if you are the only one who knows? Publicity helps you create a buzz, and only then can you make a potential profit.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

UP FROM DOWN: Building personal brand during the downturn

By now you're probably fed up with everyone moaning and groaning about the economy, but that doesn't stop it from being in a down swing. Jobs are scarce for 2009 college graduates, the housing market is ridiculous, and consumer confidence is still low.

For those in business for themselves, the aftershocks of a slow economy are easily palpable. Companies may be cutting what they consider to be extraneous spending on the exact service that you provide, whether it’s consulting, marketing, design... You may be doing the same, cutting back or eliminating marketing, PR, and design plans. But this is a mistake whether you have a few dollars to squeeze or not. Your name is the most important thing your business owns.

Be savvy with your downtime during the downturn and build personal brand recognition through smart, targeted strategies. If you have found yourself solvent during these times, your marketing dollars can go further, negotiating lower rates, category exclusivity, and placements that will resonate louder than ever before. Especially since there’s less competition. It’s easier to cut through the noise, assuming you’ve already streamlined your personal brand.

Your competition probably isn’t spending money, so now is the time to forge ahead with targeted, smart exposure that will help your consumer base remember your name and stay loyal. You may even possibly find new consumers:

1) Target your consumer better:
If you’re already pretty established, staying visible in front of your consumer will maintain brand loyalty. If you’re fighting to compete, you can use the lack of competition to get your message front and center.

Find events and press opportunities that effectively target the consumer you need. These events will still need sponsor dollars, and the economy will allow your sponsor dollar to negotiate farther.

A financial planner helps sponsor an opera event for young professionals. These young professionals are probably making money and worried about how to invest in the recession. Target audience realized!

Connect through community philanthropy:
Reaching out contributes to consumer trust and when consumers trust a brand, they will usually pay for it and even pay extra for it despite the economic atmosphere. They'll also forgive mistakes if a company has a fundamental reputation of integrity and good works.

3) Evolve:

You may need to offer a smaller service or product that still distinguishes your brand but fits people’s price ranges more easily. When McDonald’s launched their $1.89 flavored coffee, Starbucks had to respond with a more reasonable priced coffee blend called Pike Place Roast, available in grande size at $2.

Ex. A graphic designer that offers a low-price logo design service for startups

4) Create brand alliances:

Alliances can increase image and public profile and can lead to more interesting, lucrative projects. Seek out others with competing or complementary skills for possible collaborations.

. Two comedians with decent followings join forces to create an improv show or pitch a TV show.

5) Establish yourself as an expert in your field:

Contact local media (newspapers, news, etc) about your availability to comment on certain topics relevant to your business or skills.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The TIP Sheet

You’ve devised a great business name. You’ve bought the URL. Now what?

If you’re brand-minded and intend for your brand to have a social media presence, you’d better keep that presence consistent. It’s imperative to maintain the same username across the social media networks that are vital to your business (you know, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn...).

Your username should be part of your brand’s definition. Staying consistent will 1) aid in searchability and make it easy to be found by consumers seeking you online, 2) assist memory recall since once a consumer knows one of your usernames, they know them all, and 3) hopefully protect you from being brand-jacked by some random person.

Visit to check availability for the username you want to have in cyberspace.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

They Love You/They Hate You...

Reading my Twitter today brought me to a great blog post by Jeff Rago about Kanye West’s recent rude outburst during Taylor Swift’s MTV VMA acceptance speech. Rago was taken aback by the onslaught of name calling West has garnered on Twitter, Facebook, and beyond. I have to admit, it surprised me how quickly the insults appeared.

Even an off the record comment by President Obama popped up due to a tweet by ABC’s Terry Moran (that had to be quickly removed, but that’s another story about tweets and privileged conversations).

What moved me about Rago’s thoughts was how he touched on the fact that no one teaches a class on fame. The public makes you famous and watches your triumphs and disgraces unfold.

People can talk to you about fame, draw diagrams, and even put you in mock scenarios– but until you reach the point where every single word you say is instantly scrutinized by millions, people go through your trash looking for an angle, and you can’t sit and enjoy a chai latte at the corner cafĂ© without it appeared on TMZ, you have no point of reference for the experience. Perhaps being the most popular kid in school is akin to it, but still that falls desperately short.

Luckily, there are many good examples of grace under fire for those in limelight to follow and be inspired by. One immediate example is the way Beyonce handled the Kanye/Taylor situation.

For me, the lesson here is to understand that the world has changed since the printing of the first newspaper. We now live in a world where paparazzi chase their targets down the street, a rude comment can instantly gather 300,000 negative tweets about you, and anyone sitting next to you with a camera phone can become an instant journalist reporting scandal about... you.

I've witnessed this reality deter some talented individuals who feared the attention that would come with the status of fame. As a publicist, it makes me sad because I believe that publicity ultimately should provide you with more options and opportunities. Yet, at the end of the day I've spent most of my time protecting my clients from being exposed the wrong way.

Kanye has apologized to Taylor personally. We'll have to see how long it will take the public to accept his apology and how much PR he'll have to do. As I check the following text that a friend forwarded me, I suspect he'll be a running gag for some time:

BREAKING NEWS: Kanye West just interrupted Patrick Swayze's funeral let everyone know Michael Jackson's memorial was better. News at 11.

3 Questions: Frankie Finch Is Such a Problem

Pharrell and Jimmy Iovine know her as a TV host. Rhianna, Pamela Anderson and Carmen Electra know her for her stylish fashion designs. Now, these entertainment industry titans are among those discovering Frankie Finch as a double threat singer-rapper in the vein of her inspiration Blondie, but with a modern spunk and attitude.

Given her sexy style and drop-dead gorgeousness, Frankie Finch will certainly surprise people with her no-holds-barred music. “I’m not black and I’m not white, and I look the way
that I do, so people expect something cute to come out of my mouth,” she says. “I want to shock people, and a lot of songs are driven by my hustle.” Add to this a successful clothing line that’s sold in select boutiques and often incorporates lyrics from her catalog of songs, and one begins to appreciate the full scope of Frankie’s image.

Frankie’s good looks, musical knowledge and people skills have helped her land hosting gigs (under her given name) with the Interscope Records-sponsored and a Pharrell-conceived, Paul Hunter-directed TV show pilot, FEVER.

Each step has gotten her one move closer to fulfilling her life’s dream to become a world-famous entertainer. With a MySpace page that has over 500,000 page views and nearly 1,000 following her on Twitter, she’s going in the right direction. “I’m on a life mission,” she says. “I have to accomplish everything that my heart desires. If I don’t, then it’s going to be a problem.” She took a pause during her musical takeover to answer our 3 questions about self-promotion and increasing brand visibility.

GP: You’re as well known for your fashion as you are for your music. Does publicity for one aid in publicity for the other and how have you connected those two aspects of your career?

FF: You can say one aids the other because when I'm at a "fashion" event they sometimes recognize me for my music and when I'm at a "music" event or doing an interview and I'm wearing FINCH, they’ll ask
me how I started FINCH Clothing... It just kinda connects naturally. It's a lifestyle I really live.

GP: What media result (print profile feature/TV interview, etc.) have you had that you deem most beneficial to your career?

FF: I did a great TV segment for "Your LA" on NBC and my music was chosen by NIKE as its lead campaign song in 18 markets in Asia & Europe. Myspace, Facebook, and Twitt
er have been huge helps in connecting me to fans. And I got great exposure from placing my music on MTV's Laguna Beach.

GP: What has branding yourself taught you about yourself?

FF: That branding FRANKIE FINCH & FINCH Clothing is crucial to my career and overall business. Branding also taught me that keeping my logos, name, music and clothing in front of people does get attention, keep attention, and get a response.

From the May 2009 Issue of GOINGPUBLIC: A 720 PR Newsletter

Monday, September 14, 2009

Even Hookers Need Publicity

After doing PR for 10 years, I find the road of public awareness is still a long and winding one. Those on the outside rarely understand the time and effort required to become a celebrity overnight. One key to the process is staying connected, so we encourage our clients to work the rolodex, send news to long time as well as recent contacts, and be open to the opportunities that arise.

On February 20, 2009, our client Camille Solari had a LA theatrical premiere for a cheeky comedy she co-wrote and starred in called Hookers, INC. When the film got a from the LA Times, we saw a golden moment to further spread the word about the film while using the weight that attention from a prestigious newspaper allots. Camille’s mailing list is enviable, and one email blast later we found that Charles Judson of the Atlanta Film Festival had sited the newsletter as a shining example of self promotion. Even though Judson admitted he may never see Hookers, INC, it’s made a dent in the back of his mind, which is key for an indie film. This wasn’t the first email Judson had received about Camille, and it won’t be the last.

Brands can’t be built in a vacuum. People have to know who you are, what you’re doing, and what you just did in order to become familiar with you and open to your message. Stay in contact and you may find a few fans, brand ambassadors, or at least some people who respect you in your address book.

From the March 2009 issue of GOINGPUBLIC: 720 PR Newsletter

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Doing It In Public

This is a blog for the shy people who are in business for themselves. Entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, artists, actors, musicians-- anyone who knows that marketing themselves and putting themselves out there is a vital part of being successful, but they're having trouble getting past the fear and doing it.

If you're lost in a sea of millions and not standing out from the crowd or getting recognized because you are too shy to be front and center, read this blog.

If a lack of self-promotion is hurting your career, read on. The mission of this blog is to help everyone understand publicity, learn how to step up, lay it all on the line, and Do It In Public!