Monday, December 27, 2010

Ms. New Year, New Plan

Ms. Joy,

2010 has been yuck. It really, really stunk up the place. I didn't get much work and I definitely didn't get noticed. I've thought about this a lot and I think where I went wrong was not having a real plan in place. I want to publicize myself and get out there more but it's not coming together because I'm not sure what to do with what I've got.

I put up an exceptionally boring website. It took a lot of work to make my site so boring. I broke down and got a Twitter page but I still don't understand twittering or tweeting, I haven't been doing that. I put a mailing list together but I don't know how to use it and what kind of news to send out since there wasn't really any news on my end.

I think by now you can understand what's going on and not going on with me. Do you have any PR tips or advice on how to prepare myself and my efforts for 2011?

― Ms. New Year, New Plan

Ms. New Year,

I don't just have some tips, I have a DO list. Here are ten way to strengthen your 2011 PR plan.

10. Strategy. Your first New Year's resolution has to be making a plan that will simplify your life. Map out solid directions. Running in a zigzag serpentine pattern is the right plan when you're being chased by car but it sucks as a PR strategy.

First, evaluate your materials, contacts, and outreach. Your materials are everything that you can use for publicity purposes and include your website, press kit, social media, photos, business cards, etc. Your contacts are ALL of your contacts including your mama, Aunt Gina, and that business contact that you never followed up with.

Your outreach is how you determine how you're using materials and interacting with your contacts.  Make a "Strong" column and a "Weak" column. Start placing each of your materials and each of your contacts in the appropriate column. Keep the strong things strong. If weak point can be strengthened, give it the reinforcement it needs.

9. Out With the Old. I bet you have a ton of old email that you haven't even looked at sideways. Go through it. See what you've been missing. If you accidentally left correspondence unanswered, respond please. Open those old newsletters that you've gotten from friends and acquaintances. Read them! You may be surprised what you find: chances to collaborate, a new magazine that you would love to pitch, even a company you should get contact.

8. In With the New. Get more inter-connected to your new contacts. Find them on the social media that you use and make sure they know how to find you. This is also a great time to check out new technologies that can make communicating easier. If you're overwhelmed by Twitter and Facebook being separate on your cellphone, try Tweetdeck. If you need more from your Twitter lists, try Formulists. See if you can use Gist can help you streamline your contacts social media and news.

7. Jazz It Up. If your materials look old and busted, give them new hotness. Take new photos and update your press kit. Add sizzle to your bio. Change your Twitter background. Redo your blog design. Try a new newsletter format.

6. Reconnect. Should old acquaintances be forgot? Hell no! You better get back in touch with folk! The holidays and New Year are great beards for reconnection when you went MIA (or they did). Reach out with well wishes through greeting cards, personalized emails, phone calls, texts or, even a handwritten letter. We don't see too much of that lately and it adds a special touch to rekindling a valued relationship. Please don't blab incessantly about yourself. Find out what their news, too.

5. Make Your List & Check It Twice. Create your media lists and go all out. Generate databases for magazine, TV, online, and radio contacts. Include bloggers that suit your story needs. Now you can start building the relationships.

4. Categorize. Outreach goes in more than one direction. It’s not just about how you're reaching out to them people. To dig deeper, look at what they do with the information you give them and how much information they give you. What is valuable varies from person to person, so use your own measurements and figure out your MVP's and VIP's. Notice who always retweets you or comments on your Facebook status, reads your newsletter, and gives you referrals. These are the people that like you.

3. Give Gifts. 'Tis the giving season. Embrace it. Don’t be silent because you don’t have self-centric news to thrust at people. Stop worrying about what you're going to broadcast and start thinking about how you can benefit people. Do something special and unexpected for your MVP's. If you don't have news but you have $10, ask your valued people to send you their Amazon wishlists so that you can surprise one of them. Your gift doesn't have to cost money, though. Blast out interesting info that you stumble upon that will benefit your mailing list.

2. Make Some Consistent Noise. Vow to be consistent with your outreach for 2011. If you blog every two weeks, keep it up and avoid those four month stretches of silence. Consistency births trust. 

1. Check Your Calendar. Since we're thinking ahead, really think ahead. Put key dates into your PR plan. For example, there's a month for almost everything. If you’re passionate about heart disease, a Google search will reveal that February is Heart Awareness Month. The American Heart Association is all over it. Seek events that you can participate in for the month, connect to the right companies and individuals, and incorporate this date into your PR plan. 

Remember, the PR plan can’t implement itself. It means nothing unless you do it.

Keep rising!


Can't remember all of this? Download this Do! list for free via Scribd here!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ms. Facing

Ms. Joy

A few years ago I did a reality show, a really embarrassing reality show that I hate to talk about. It gave me a lot of recognition and some loyal fans. Most people who watched the show really liked me and still do.

No fortune came with my fame, though. It also didn’t do a damn thing for my acting career. I think it’s made it harder for me to get the kind of acting roles I want. People consider me a “reality” star and don’t offer me gritty roles or consider me for anything other than a no-budget indie comedy.

I had no idea this would happen. When I moved out to California to pursue my dreams of acting on the big screen, I thought all work was good work and any publicity was good publicity. I was so happy to land a gig that would get me on TV and in front of peoples’ faces that I never considered negative things.

I thought that fame was fame and fans were fans and the reality show would help me change my career like it did for Jacinda Barrett. She ran around naked on the Real World and still lands movies like “Bridget Jones” and “The Namesake.” I didn’t do anything nearly as risqué as what she did.  

I just feel like I’m starting all over again and this time, with less respect from others than ever before. I want a career in film. I want gritty dramatic roles that challenge me. I want to be seen in a completely different way than I’m being seen now.

Should I just bite the bullet and own up to my past? Or should I drop it from my bio completely? What about the YouTube clips? How can I create an image that will show me the way I want to be seen?

―Facing Reality

Ms. Facing,

First, let’s rise out of the shame sewer. It’s not doing you any good to wallow in coulda, shoulda, woulda. Bottom line: you could and you did. You’re in a very particular place right now and this place has to be your starting point. From a pure publicity aspect, you need to figure out your game changer. This can involve myriad things - anything from the way you utilize your fans to the projects you choose to brand associations.

Rebranding is a long process that requires deep strategy and fastidiousness. When A-listers rebrand, they get very quiet in the media and try to calm the media frenzy. They stay quiet until a huge project that’s backed by a big budget gives them a reason to be back in the spotlight. You can’t necessarily afford to go radio silent and wait for some big studio project to give you an avenue for reemergence. You have to change while staying in motion.

You don’t have to make it the first paragraph of your bio, but you don’t need to eliminate the factoid from your life, either. People know you were on a show and recognize you for it, so just make this fact work for you. Mention the show in conjunction with a reference to how you started winning the hearts of your fans, such as, “She began winning the hearts of America through her memorable moments on XYZ show.” How this fits into your bio is a matter of semantics and angles. Time to test your verbal contortionist skills.

Let’s talk about the fans. Since you have them, I would suggest you figure out ways to stay connected to your loyal supporters and utilize their numbers to your advantage. So, wrangle those Twitter followers and Facebook fans to drive traffic to your IMDb page and website. Those fans can help keep your IMDb numbers in the popular range. By now, you should know how helpful that can be.

Once you know you have your fans documented and mobilized, seek out projects that will help you utilize those numbers while also flexing your acting muscle. Fundraising plays or charity readings (especially celebrity charity readings) usually focus on character driven, gritty material. They can also be a great opportunity to get fans buzzing, send a media alert to the press about your new fab role, and essentially start showcasing that different side of yourself.     

You may also want to look at pursuing webisodes or other cool online projects. I know you’re craving the silver screen but, don’t get stuck on stupid about it. There are some amazing web projects that are actually union and winning awards. These will give you something unexpected to publicize and, again, you can utilize your fans to increase the popularity of the project.

Another script flipper can be the right kind of spokesperson or brand ambassador opportunity. If you can find a nonprofit or product that you truly believe in that will also paint you in the desired light, signing up to be its face can go a long way for changing or elevating your image. Whether the brand publicizes you, you publicize you, or you do no publicity at all, being associated with the brand will showcase you in a way that should garner respect. That is, if you choose the right brand.

I can’t emphasize enough how involved and tedious this process is going to be. You can’t half-way this. To rebrand, you have to go all out or just stay home.

During this journey, you also need to remember that your goals might not materialize as is. This doesn’t mean you have to abandon the goals. Just amend them. Think of a strategy, implement your plan and stick with it. This is going to be a true test of endurance.

Keep rising!


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ms. Ingenue

Ms. Joy,

I’m not sure what to do. I don’t have a manager or a mentor. I’m pretty much on my own in this regard and just getting lucky to find work. People back home are still shocked that I moved to LA.

I recently landed a TV show on one of the cable networks. The network has actually been publicizing the show a lot and it’s getting some buzz. It just premiered last week and so far the ratings are really good.

I spent over 3 months on set, so I know I have screen time, but of course I have no idea how much of my role was cut or included yet. I’m not a lead or anything, just one of the recurring, quirky characters. I haven’t told anyone that I’m in this show. Should I?

I’m still waiting for my episodes to start airing. They should be on 3 weeks from now. I don’t want to start telling everyone I’m on the show and then find out that my role has been cut down to 5 seconds.

What should I do?
― Ingenue in Irvine 

Ms. Ingenue,

I understand why you don’t want to start shouting from the rooftops just yet. No one wants to get embarrassed. If people get the impression that you have 20 minutes of uncut, mesmerizing monologue only to see you have two exciting utterances at the most, well, you might feel like you misled everyone. So… Don’t! Don’t exaggerate or give people the wrong impression. Don’t downplay yourself, either. Just tell the truth and be tasteful with your publicity. Once your role starts airing and you have ideas about your actual face time, then you can choose whether or not to get bolder.

Most actors I know feel upset when they don’t have work to talk about. You have work that just premiered and is being publicized by the network right now. You can’t get more current than that! First of all, let your immediate contacts know about the show. You want them to watch, spread the word to their friends, and maybe be your personal cheerleading crew.

Tell your inner circle exactly what you need and make it easy for people to support you. Nothing is more frustrating than getting an email with half-baked, confusing instructions. If you need them to watch, state it. If you want to post it on Facebook, talk about the show at the beauty salon, or gather a viewing party, ask them to do exactly that. Send out an email blast letting your folks know you’re on the show, ask them do what you need them to do and be sure to include the network and air times in Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific. Shoot, if you can, even tell them what channel the network is on based on their cable provider. Remember, you want their help and support so, do the hard work for them.

Make watching the show a Facebook event and invite attendees. Don’t get obnoxious with this though. By now, you have some idea about who amongst your Facebook contacts is receptive to an event invitation and who isn’t. If you’re iffy about someone, pull back from that urge to bombard them with event emails and send a personal email instead.

Leave your house and start networking in person. If your show is hot right now, there’s no time like the present. Go to events, cocktail parties, and socials. This is a great time to meet new people- whether they be industry or not- and spark new conversations.

Once your character debuts on the show, you can adjust your strategy. If your character is getting a good amount of time and is memorable, feel free to get more gumption. Look at getting press, especially back in your home town.

Don’t pretend you’re starring as the lead on the show. Don’t give people the impression that you even steal the show. But, whatever you do, don’t just let this opportunity pass silently by.

Keep rising!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mr. Carpet

Ms. Joy,

Last month, I got to attend a friend’s movie premiere in NY. I’m a working actor in the city and I mostly do character work. When my friend flew in for his premiere, he invited me to tag along. Truth be told, tagging along was all I planned to do. My boy had other plans and pulled me onto the red carpet. It was my first red carpet. I wasn’t prepared but I manned up and took my photos. That went really well.

The next part went really wrong. I’ve never done an interview and when I found myself in front of a camera crew, I froze. I stuttered. I sounded completely stupid. I stumbled over the name of my current show. I forgot to even mention the movie I just did opposite some big names.

I’m bruised but I’m not giving up. Now that I’ve done a red carpet, I want to do more. Do you have a quick tip on how I can be better prepared for the next one?

―Barely Carpet Burned in Brooklyn

Mr. Carpet,

I like your attitude! Shake it off! The great thing about the experience you just had is that you now know what to expect. It’s like riding a rollercoaster. You look at it with one impression. You feel really nervous the first time because you don’t know what’s coming. Once you get past the first ride, you can ride it again and feel less fear because you’ve gained familiarity. Use this to your advantage and learn your lines before you go on the carpet.

You don’t strike me as the type of guy who auditions without knowing the lines. Red carpets work the same way. Memorize your key points: the names of current work, the names of key colleagues you acted opposite of, what studios are involved (if any), where folks can see your work, and so on. Know these points well enough to be natural, conversational and personable while communicating them. Practice them in your mind and aloud.

Also take time to learn about the event you’re attending and have fun buzz phrases ready in relation to it. This may sound like a no-brainer, but I once saw someone attend a charity event and space about the name of the foundation or why they were there. That kind of thing can make you look dumb or like a publicity hound. Either case should be avoided.

Train yourself for this the way you train yourself for your craft and you should do just fine.

Keep rising!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ms. Strumming

Ms. Joy,

I have a new online guitar lesson business and I struggle with being in the limelight. I think it's because I'm not comfortable with my looks and, especially in person, I get nervous when I'm being looked upon by others with anticipation or judgment. I've tried all the online marketing ideas I can think of that don't require me to personally be the center of attention, but my website is still hardly known and visited. Do you have some new publicity suggestions?

―Strumming in San Francisco

View my video column response to Ms. Strumming below:

Ms. Strumming,

You struggle with issues that most people wrestle with and you are not alone. Putting this aside, my first suggestion would be to stop marketing. That’s right. Stop marketing to people and start engaging them. Whether you choose to put yourself directly out there or keep pushing the product without yourself at the forefront, you need to stop marketing. 

It doesn’t matter what type of folks comprise your target audience, if you create a campaign that provides experiences, you’ll create real connections. Real, loyal connections will establish your brand and help the word spread because you can use these contacts to help you publicize your business.

At first, online guitar lessons can sound cold or impersonal. Redirect focus onto the fact that through the internet, you can teach anyone anywhere in the world how to play the guitar and, it becomes pretty cool. You can indulge anyone’s passion for music and desire to play the guitar. This is a gorgeously human thing so, relate this other human beings in a way they can feel and hear and see.

Make your campaign speak as passionately and as enthusiastically about learning an instrument as you would. Think of some ideas that people can experience, such as video content. If you don’t want to appear in the video content, then use your past and current customers. Ask them to send in video testimonials that you can share. While you’re reaching out online, try an online song competition. You can advertise it through social media and utilize online voting. Then competitors can wrangle voters from their own networks.

Speaking of networking, ask for referrals and offer folks something interesting for their referrals. You could try a giveaway competition where the top referrer wins something cool like, a guitar maybe. (hmm?)

Also try to find offline, local events that can yield visibility. Look for music, education, or self-improvement related things. Find ways to partner with these events and perhaps have one of your local students demonstrate the skills they’ve acquired through your online lessons.

Music is passion. It uplifts, enraptures, electrifies, soothes and woos. Hell, half the dudes I know that play guitar only learned so they could score chicks! All joking aside, music can embody how we feel about love and life itself. That makes it magical. Grab that magic and infuse it into your campaign. Ignite it in others and you will see results because you’ll make connections that people will love and they will love your brand. 

Keep rising!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mr. List Builder

Ms. Joy,

For the past four years I’ve been promoting my private fitness services in the Boston metro-area. I offer clients mobile services as well as access to my private studio. My team has gathered a mailing list of over 8,000 friends, family, and associates but, we’re not successfully growing our Facebook fan page.

We currently have 100 fans. Out of these 100 fans, we’re lucky to have 4 or 5 actually comment or even email us. Come to think of it, our open rate for our mailings is only 40% and the newsletter has never actually resulted in sales for us or potential client inquiries.

I’m starting to suspect that we’re not engaging our list. Do you have any tips for growing our fans and engaging them?

―List Builder in Boston

Mr. List Builder,

Suspicions can be good and, in your case, it seems your instincts are spot on. It’s difficult to imagine how you can have a mailing list of 8,000+ but struggle to get over 100 fans on Facebook. This may be able to be resolved by asking yourself Who? and What?

Sheer numbers are not the most important thing when it comes to growing a mailing list. You can have a million people but if these people aren’t interactive, what is your list really doing for you? A mailing list of only 10 people who are all spending money, interacting, and promoting your brand for you are worth more than 1,000 silent folks who never even open your mailings.

First, take a real look at who comprises your list. It's time to channel your inner CIA-operative and gather valuable intel. Categorize how many are friends, how many are family, and how many are associates. Out of these people, figure out who would make good brand ambassadors and help spread the word about your business. Figure out what your list spends money on and what kind of money they spend on services like yours. If you don’t have any of this info and are clueless about answering these questions, that’s your first sign that you don’t know enough about your list.

After you figure out who is on your list, you then need to figure out what your people want. If they’re not interacting, it is probably because they don’t understand how interacting with you will benefit them. Incentive is a great way to engage. Most business people think a sale is the best way to entice but, you may need to start with a contest. A contest is something they can win without having to spend money and everyone wants free stuff.

Invite your list to fan you on Facebook and offer them a chance to win something they want if and when they become a fan. Facebook fan pages are set up under your business name but they really belong to the fans.

These methods can get you started. To keep growing that fan base, you’ll have to keep communicating with and learning about your people. Knowing them is the only way to know what they want.

Keep rising!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Ms. Real Deal

Ms. Joy,

This is so crazy I don’t know where to begin. I have some crazy person online pretending to be me. I’m a singer/songwriter/dj with a lot of famous friends. I travel and gig internationally. I do photo shoots for magazines and TV interviews where I can. I’m working extremely hard for everything I’m accomplishing.

Like everyone else on the planet, I use Facebook and Twitter, but I have both pages protected. I didn’t want everyone to have access to me. I really just want both sites to be for my friends, family, and close supporters.

About 3 weeks ago, someone got a Facebook page under my name, well, sort of. They spelled my first name wrong but the profile picture they’re using is from my bio on my website. They’re sending Facebook friend requests and emails to my celebrity friends, claiming to be me and saying that I lost their cell number. Now this person is on Twitter, too!

I don’t know what they want. Is this an attempt to destroy my reputation? Are they trying to cipher off my career? I’ve heard about this sort of thing before and people stealing other people’s identities to get gigs overseas. How can I protect my name and my work from this craziness?

― The Real Deal

Ms. Real Deal,

Identity theft and cyber-impersonation really gets me riled up. In the south, we describe this level of anger as being .38 hot! The problem is neither legislature nor the law have caught up with this type of foolishness. Once you put something online, you lose a lot of control about what people do with that material. Photos, music, content, and everything else you can imagine is constantly stolen online. There are some steps you can take to protect your reputation, but control will always be an issue. A method you can implement is what I call the Triple A technique: Assess, Acquire, and Assert.

First, you need to examine the situation and figure out how insidious the impersonation is. Do a Google and Bing search and see if your name is popping up in weird places or attached to events you know nothing about. See if the liar has a website under your name or is strictly on social media. If they got a website, you could try to acquire their true contact information through it. If they are only on social media, you’ll have to alert the proper contacts at those sites about their false representation.

Once you’re done assessing the problem, you can start to acquire what you need to regain as much control as you can. One thing you might want to get is an attorney (another “A” word) but, meanwhile, you can start to acquire variations on your name or brands. Go to, a free online resource that lets you get what usernames are available on all social media sites from stumbleupon to youtube. Get the various versions of your username that are still available so no one can easily name-jack you.

Since your predator has already gotten a fake and misspelled username on Twitter and Facebook, see if you can acquire the Google Adwords for that misspelled name. Google Adwords let you pay per click. You can have the Adwords come up every time someone searches that misspelled name and have the ad direct them to you instead. All of this acquisition- the usernames and adwords- can be done within an hour.

Lastly, you need to assert that you are the real deal and that the other person is a perpetrator. I advise you to acquire before you assert because you never want to forewarn an impostor that you’re coming for them. Those were the scenes that I always hated in Lifetime movies. Don’t show your hand before you assert.

Once you assert, go full steam ahead! Have your attorney send cease and desist letters to the culprit and contact the appropriate social media executives. Alert your friends and supporters through private communication such as email or by phone that an impostor is on the loose. Tell them exactly what usernames your impersonator is using so that they know not to communicate with the liar.

If the impostor has fraudulently attached you to events or placed your name in weird associations, contact the appropriate people concerned and clarify the situation.

You may never gain total control again, but these steps will help you diffuse some of the lies.

Keep rising!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ms. Lost Angeleno

Hi Ms. Joy,

I have been acting for over 10 years in New Zealand and Australia. I’m really well known back home in New Zealand although I haven’t done any work there recently. I moved to LA ten months ago and haven’t been working much here, either.

I’m very experienced and smart but I don’t know the right people just yet. I’m slowly getting there. I need to get in front of top Casting Directors and Agents. I have US theatrical representation but I need better agents. I don’t have a Manager here so I don’t really have anyone making introductions for me in LA.

I’ve been handling my own publicity and put together a website, I listed myself on and I also have a Twitter and Facebook page. Nothing’s really happening from any of those sites, though.

There are lots of reasons for me to stay in the US career-wise. But me not working back in New Zealand and staying in front of the people who know me is killing my career. I feel like I’m drowning. I don’t know what to do to get things going here and keep things fired up back home. I don’t know how to meet the right people. I’m not sure how to get myself out there. What should I do?

- Lost Angeleno from New Zealand

Ms. Lost Angeleno,

It’s gutsy as hell to literally jump across the world for your career. Yet, that gumption means nothing without a plan of action. Your letter listed desires but, no game plan. You can dream about a better agent and want to meet top casting agents but there is no magic formula that forces the world to fulfill your wants.

So, you need to have backup strategies if your desires don’t materialize as is. PR is a great way to elevate and expand your connections and thereby your possibilities. Your PR plan should encompass networking in the states, staying connected to your New Zealand contacts and fans, and leveraging what you’ve already done.

The first thing that most actors stress out about is getting representation. Still, you may never get an agent or manager- at least, not the ones you want. Worst case scenario is that you never find someone to introduce you to casting directors. Perhaps you should shift your focus to networking with producers and directors. 9 times out of 10, they’re the ones making the final casting decisions anyway. Plus, they’re rarely pummeled by tons of emails from actors begging for work, unlike casting directors.

If you have acquired NZ-based contacts and a fan base, don’t lose those people due to silence. Communicate and stay connected. Create a newsletter. Find countrymen on Facebook or Twitter that have common interests and network with them directly. Reach out to other New Zealander actors who are now based in the states.

Social media isn’t just a way for you to keep talking to people you already know. It’s also an amazing way to be gregarious and establish new connections with strangers.

Since you acquired career momentum back in NZ, keep using it. Connect with the New Zealand consulate and New Zealand film groups with offices in LA. Reach out to New Zealand press outlets that have covered you in the past and pitch them a story about your move to the states. Involve yourself in New Zealand charity efforts and be one of their US-based ambassadors.

There are things that are in your immediate power to change and things that are out of your control. Take control of what you can, mainly, your personal game plan. Strategize, nurture the connections you already have, expand your network, and leverage your value.

Keep rising!


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ms. Say What?

Hi Ms. Joy,

My first interview went all wrong. I don’t know what happened. The reporter and I got along incredibly and we talked for hours about my life and my background. We also talked about funny, everyday life stuff and shared stories with each other. I was so relaxed and thought I did great but when I got the interview all my quotes were wrong and the things I thought were the most important got completely left out. What did I do?

Ms. Say What? in San Francisco

Ms. Say What,

What happened to you can happen to anyone. It sounds like you said too much and got off subject. Often, we think that the most important thing to know for an interview is how to be verbose but, a lot of times the real knowledge is in knowing when to stop talking. While you’re being chatty and personable, you want to stick to the facts, drive your points home and not get misquoted.

It’s easy to get relaxed, distracted, and start giving the reporter too much background. By the time you finish, the article is about the time you wrecked the family car on prom night instead of your forthcoming project. It’s easier to stay on point if you give yourself a game plan in the form of a Fact Sheet.

Fact Sheets are simple. They are one page of bullet pointed facts (hence, fact sheet, ahem) that are concise and easy to read. Each fact should be one sentence in length. Keep it simple to memorize so you can recall these points quickly and effortlessly. This will help you stay on subject even if your interviewer wanders off.

Plus, you can always send the fact sheet to the journalist when you confirm your interview. This will help them know exactly what the key messages are and help them shape the story. They may even ask you questions straight off the fact sheet. That practically makes it a cheat sheet.

Outline the facts, memorize them and stick to them. Hopefully you won’t find yourself reading another article about YOU wondering, “Did I say that?”

Keep rising!


Monday, November 1, 2010

Mr. Tied Up

There is no magic button.
Thankfully, we can make our own magic. This addition of ASK JOY weighs the benefits of celebrity placement to an overall marketing campaign:

Hi Ms. Joy,

I'm an investment banker by day, silk-tie designer by night. Since I work in Chicago, I deal with a lot of high-net worth men to sell my ties to, but, someone suggested that I get more celebrity connections. I actually did a gift bag in Los Angeles last year and nothing happened. No press. Nothing! Is celebrity placement really worth it for me and my ties? Why bother?

- Tied Up in Chicago, IL

Mr. Tied Up,

Yep, it's probably worth it. Of course, any celebrity placement you do needs to be smart, strategic, and aligned with your overall brand image.

I'm not sure if that gift bag in LA placed your ties with your target demographics (since you didn't tell me what celebs got them) but, before you agree to do any placement, you need to know some stuff. WHO will receive the ties? WHAT media (if any) will be covering the placement? WHERE will photos be available? WHEN will photos be available?

Once you have these answers you can start to make decisions and figure out how much hustle you need to do. And you do need to hustle on your end. You can't just get a photo and sit on it and expect magic and fairy dust to happen.

Try to place your ties with names that you respect and think adhere to your brand. Target events that will provide the resources to promote your placements. Then, take control and pursue press on your own- take the photos and use them to entice merchandisers and customers. If you do a placement and nothing happens, then take it upon yourself to make something happen.

Just like print articles, ads, TV press, and radio interviews, celebrity placement is just another aspect of publicity. Don't expect one celebrity gift bag alone to be a magic wand. Make everything work in concert.

Keep rising!


Friday, October 29, 2010

Ms. Beauty Notes

Reinvention can be terrifying. I receive a lot questions about compartmentalizing career transitions or new business ideas and services. For this addition of ASK JOY, our question comes from a singer capitalizing on her beauty:

Hi Joy,

I've been a singer my whole life and love being on stage. I also understand what it takes to feel gorgeous in front of a crowd under the hot spotlight. I'm now launching a new beauty line for women but I can't seem to talk about it. I have some kind of disconnect. Everyone knows me as a singer. How do I talk about this beauty line without having one take away from the other? This line is my dream. I don't want to mess it up.

-Beauty Notes in New Orleans, LA

Ms. Beauty Notes,

From where I'm sitting, being a performer with a beauty line is brilliant. You spend lots of time getting made up just to sweat and possibly clog your pores with all of that beauty while you perform under bright, hot lights. If you've been able to maintain smooth, supple skin inspite of your schedule and career demands, that is a secret that needs to be shared.

First, realize that singing is "what" you do and the beauty line is something you have "created." Neither of these things are you as a whole, they are simply extensions of you and your overall goals.

Second, instead of focusing on the disconnect, telescope the connections. As a performer, you understand the pressures of beauty on women. Let others know that you understand that pressure. Talk about how you overcome the societal obsession with perfection. Define what beauty means to you. Tell women how your products will make them experience their own definition of beauty.

Your key will be consistent personalization, not disconnections. These personalizations will birth connections to other human beings seeking your products. The fact that you have enjoyed a career that also comes with a lot of scrutiny about appearance is a strength and huge advantage for your new business.

Keep rising!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mr. Dollar Short

We all love free money. Any time you can raise funds that don't have to be paid back, it feels like heaven. Today's ASK JOY column deals with running a successful crowdfunding campaign for any type of project or venture:

Hi Ms. Joy,

I’m really frustrated! I’m an Actor/Director and I’ve been trying crowdfunding to get seed money for a horror film I’d direct and star in. Nothing is happening it’s just failing. I’m trying to raise $5,000. I’ve emailed all my entire address book of over 600 people. I Facebooked, Twittered and all that for 60 days but only raised $200. What am I doing wrong? How many more ways can I get the word out?

- Dollar Short in Marina Del Ray

Mr. Dollar Short,

Crowdfunding can be a great way to announce a new project to your support network and gather monies that you don’t have to pay back. It
can really work. Based on what you’ve told me, it’s possible that your problem falls into one of four categories: Contacts, Campaign Length, Return on Investment, or Method of Outreach.

Contacts are the first cornerstone of a crowdfunding campaign. You need to have enough friends, family, and associates to reach out to. Do the real math on your campaign. If you need $5,000, are your 600 contacts really enough to raise that kind of capital? Let’s say everyone you know gives a dollar, that’s only $600. Perhaps most of your contacts are having money woes from the recession and you don’t know 50 people who can each donate $100 or, even $10.

You have to know who comprises your contacts. If your network is only relatives, a few friends from college, other actors and filmmakers, you may be barking up the wrong trees. If your relatives or college buds aren’t in the biz, there’s a strong possibility they didn’t understand what your project is and how the crowdfunding works. On the flip side, your actor and filmmaking contacts may be too preoccupied with their own projects to care about yours. In LA, even your mailman has a screenplay. Know your contacts.

Your second issue could be campaign length. You let your campaign run for 60 days. Someone asking you for money for over a month can become annoying. Having 60 days to donate doesn’t create a real sense of urgency. Fundraising efforts have to light a fire under someone’s butt quick, fast and in a hurry. Shorter is better.

The ROI, or return on investment, has to entice your target audiences. You can’t just send “thank you” notes or offer a dvd. Be imaginative and fun so that your benefactor gifts stand out and strike a cord with most of your immediate contacts.

Now, if none of these are the problem, it could be your outreach methods. It’s great that you put your campaign on Twitter and Facebook but, if those groups aren’t that big, that can be a non-solution. A Twitter audience of 70 followers and a Facebook friend list of 134 folks isn’t cutting it. Just blasting people with generic emails won’t work either. Few people like to be “generally” asked for money even if they like you.

Don’t send Facebook email blasts that will only get lost amongst other Facebook email blasts. Take the time to personalize. Reach out personally by phone or letter to your aunt that sends you money for every holiday. Take time to directly contact your friend that made a bunch of money online. You know who your whales are. Cater to them in a way that would put Vegas to shame.

Make sure there’s more than one way to donate and that people understand this. Ask the people who love you to help spread the word. State all of this in your video (and you should create a video to complement your campaign).

Look at these categories and see if you can re-strategize to give your campaign some momentum. On a side note, don’t forget to actually ask for the money. People need to understand that you actually need cash and that even a dollar will make a different. Say it! Don’t assume they know it.

Keep rising!


Ms. Here To Stay

Hi Joy,

Once upon a time, I moved to NYC and got involved in the improv comedy scene as well as a major Off-Broadway theater. I then got pregnant via a fast and furious romance, got married, gave birth to a beautiful boy and became a full-time mom.

At 3.8 years old, our son was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive cancer in his nerve tissue. I had the rare gift of care taking 24/7 for the next two years while he was in treatment. He was almost six when he passed away.

My heart stopped beating. I literally lost a year of my life. I changed my career path for years and didn’t pursue acting. Yet, acting never left my soul- especially independent film. I’ve now found my way back and realize that my gift is artistry that enables others to identify their experiences. I’ve jumped across the country again and am in LA acting, writing, and creating.

This is all a part of me but, should I share my story? If so, how do I do it in a way that lets people know I’m here for the long haul and devoted to acting? And, since I’m not a spring chicken coming to this town, how do I package myself?

- Here To Stay in LA

Ms. Here To Stay,

What an amazing life! To answer your first question, Yes. If it would have helped you to hear a similar story then, you should share (if you want to). As a woman, a mother, an actress, a writer and all the other nouns that make you unique, it’s reasonable to think your experiences have informed your life and your work. They’re not shameful or embarrassing. If anything, moving forward after such loss affirms your commitment to living a passionate life.

You never have to bare your total soul and you have the power to stop talking about it whenever you choose. You never know what will happen. Your journey, strength and generosity might just change someone else’s life.

If you tap into the reasons why you are pursuing your artistry again, the truth of that will be what you need to express to others. The passionate reasons driving you are what you use to let people know you’re devoted to acting and here to stay. These passionate reasons will also help others see and feel your humanity.

Don’t worry about spring chickens or any other seasonal fowl. The fact that you know some real things about real life is your advantage. Look at sharing your story with women’s lifestyle media such as “Woman’s World” or “More” magazines and lifestyle TV formats such as CBS’ new show “The Talk” with Julie Chen and Holly Robinson Peete.

Also, if you get a moment, take a look at Benu Mabhena’s case study here. This is an actress whose past informed her work in Blood Diamond and her social outreach has been a complement to her work and life.

Keep rising!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Change is good. For the past 6 months, I have been collaborating with my fabulous team to perfect what Do It In Public is all about. The fruits of this labor will include relaunching my speaker website in November 2010, launching a private, by invitation-only PR consulting club for self-promoters entitled DO IT! and, maintaining a wonderful calendar of international speaking engagements.

Starting tomorrow, my blog will become the home of my PR advice column, Ask Joy. Here, confounded self-promoters will have their PR questions answered. If you have questions that you want to send in, please email them to with the subject line, "Ask Joy"

Please understand that due to volume, I can't answer every question that I receive. Submission of your question relinquishes all rights to your question. Thank you for joining on me on this beautiful journey of self-publicity power.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Brains of Minerva: Helping Actors Promote Themselves

Screen legend Ethel Barrymore once said, "For an actress to be a success, she must have the face of Venus, the brains of Minerva, the grace of Terpsichore, the memory of a Macaulay, the figure of Juno, and the hide of a rhinoceros."

Enter Brains of Minerva, the ultimate actor's guide to the Hollywood hustle. I recently sat down with Sarah Sido to share my thoughts (in 2 parts) on publicity, why Clint Eastwood doesn't cry on camera, and what actors need to know to get themselves in the media spotlight.


Monday, April 12, 2010

DOING IT Spotlight: Nekisha-Michelle Exposes Cycle of Cheating on KTLA

What do Jesse James, Tiger Woods, Senator McCain all have in common besides being famous? They've all recently been caught in headline grabbing affairs.

My self-promotion protege and Life Redesign Queen Dr. Nekisha-Michelle Bakre stopped by KTLA to discuss fame, cheating, and how those caught in a cycle of infidelity can break the invisible chains that are binding them.

Find Nekisha-Michelle online and Twitter!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Polishing a Tarnished Image: Nike's New Tiger Ad

I must admit that when the sex scandal with Tiger Woods began, I hesitated to talk about it with anyone- even close friends. While any person can try to sit back and place judgment on his infidelity, the only people who ever really deserve an apology from Woods are his family members who were directly hurt by his actions. Yet, because he chose to accept endorsement dollars from brands like Nike and Buick and because his anointed title of ROLE MODEL, Mr. Woods does have to acknowledge and answer to questionable behavior that tarnishes his shiny image as well as any brand that has hitched its wagon to him.

Unlike many of his other endorsers, Nike stuck by Woods. At the end of the day, Nike is about sports and, while Tiger Woods won't get a Husband of the Year award, he could still win the Augusta Masters and that coveted green jacket for a 5th time.

So, Nike found themselves facing the dilemma of how to reintroduce Woods to consumers and fans. On August 8th, moments before Woods premiered at the Masters, Nike put out this ad with the voice of Woods' dead father and mentor, Earl, being the only words you hear:

The sum total of this commercial is unforgettable: stark black and white with the golf champion looking rest-broken and somewhat scolded while Earl Woods asks, "did you learn anything?"

The public reaction has been "creepy," "moving," "disturbing," "bizarre," "genius," "obvious!" I don't think Nike intended to just play the dead daddy card. The idea seems to be to show an introspective and embarrassed Tiger Woods post-scandal, post thinking about how he has disappointed the people who matter to him most, and ready to return to sports and the golf course and do again what he does best. Be an athlete.

I find this to be a smart commercial. There was no Woods' ad Nike was ever going to be able to put out into the world that wasn't going to upset some people. At least this one attempts to bring Tiger Woods full circle and it also shows how (through Earl Woods' own words) his father would have judged him. In fact, it seems that his father was less about accusation and more inquiry. Perhaps Nike is urging us to do the same and simply ask Tiger, "did you learn anything?"

One Entrepreneur On Marketing

I recently did an interview with Upstart Smart magazine about marketing strategies entrepreneurs can use to promote their businesses. The mag is the brainchild of Amber Singleton Riviere, who runs one of the smoothest ships I've ever seen. She sent details on how to schedule my interview, pre-questions, and a reminder of the interview. R-E-S-P-E-C-T to Ms. Riviere!

Take a peak at the full interview here for an overview on brand, how personality effects building and promoting your business, and 3 tips on how to spread the word:

One Entrepreneur On Marketing: Joy Donnell of 720 PR

This is part of a series called "The Entrepreneurs on Marketing," where I'm talking with entrepreneurs about their strategies for marketing and promoting their businesses. In this interview, I caught up with Joy Donnell of 720 PR.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

DOING IT Spotlight: Japan Buzzes about Terrisha Kearse

Congrats to my self-promotion protege director Terrisha Kearse who got some overseas press for herself and her film 10-20 in Japan's AUGUST magazine. Check out part of her 4-page article that discusses her unique vision as a filmmaker and where she found the inspiration for her directorial debut.

10-20 tells the story of EJ Henderson (Jah Shams), who discovers at the tender age of 13 that his life is a lie. Tracy (Bee-Be Smith), his birth mother, gave him up to her childless sister who was the victim of a brutal rape and couldn't have kids. Candice (Kimberly Bailey) raised EJ as her own. During these years, EJ channels his anger toward his abusive aunt and uncle into writing poetry. When Candice discovers that she is pregnant, she coldly admits the truth to EJ and sends him to live with Tracy. This betrayal turns the sensitive boy into an angry young man. EJ turns his back on Tracy and looks for acceptance on the streets. As his life spirals downward, EJ realizes too late that he can only control the present when he learns to deal with his past.

The debut film from director Terrisha Kearse, 10-20 derives its name from the Florida law that guarantees a 10-year sentence for possession of an unlicensed firearm, and 20 years to life if the gun is aimed at a person with the intent to shoot or kill. Kearse, who also co-authored the film, based the story on the real-life events that led to the incarceration of a close family member.

View the 10-20 trailer here

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ask A Reporter: Gina Roberts-Grey

Gina Roberts-Grey knows a good story when she sees one. She's contributed health, lifestyle, parenting and nutrition articles as well as celebrity profiles to over 200 magazines. These publications include GLAMOUR, ESSENCE, WOMAN'S DAY, SELF, and PREGNANCY, but that's only the tip of the iceberg.

Her work has been widely translated and Gina currently serves as co-chair for the American Society of Authors and Journalists' (ASJA) 39th annual writer's conference to be held in Spring 2010.

Gina took a few minutes to share her thoughts on fame, media exposure, and what makes a profile compelling:

When profiling a celebrity or celebrity expert, what are some of the attributes that make the individual fascinating and compelling (other than fame itself)?

There are a number of factors, that are usually based on what the outlet (I'm writing for) wants or needs. In many cases, it's not necessarily "new" news. It may be a life-long cause, a medical condition, etc. In other cases it's what projects they're working on, or have lined up. In the latter, interest is usually tied to doing something new.

Celebrities live very public lives yet it's impossible for the public to know everything about them. Have you found that the famous people you've profiled were fully aware of their own public perception?

GRG: Yes, in fact, the celebrities I've interviewed take that very seriously. They're advocates for health issues, the environment, etc. and they're using their voice to get very important messages out to as many as possible.

Does the current state and abilities of media (and social media) make it easier or harder to rectify a negative image? Does it make it easier or harder to cultivate and maintain a positive image?

GRG: I think it depends on the audience. If the target "image shaping" audience is using social media, I think it may be easier. But I don't think social media is the "end all be all". A lot of fans and those curious about celebs get their information and shape their opinions based on the print and TV media.

How has the public's fascination with famous people changed over the years? Is public demand becoming more voracious?

I think the public looks to celebrities for hints of "normalcy". They want to relate to the people the see on TV, read about, etc. And are fascinated with celebs to learn if a celeb is getting divorced, having a baby or has a rowdy teen, just like "everyone else".

What are some things from the subject's team you find frustrating or counterproductive when trying to complete a story (such as unresponsive, details that are difficult to fact check, and so on)?

GRG: The red tape to schedule an interview. I've found that once you can get access to a person, they're very graceful, charming and forthright with information. However, it can be tricky to navigate the handlers, agents, etc. surrounding the person. But, I've yet to encounter a celebrity who wasn't terrific to speak with.

Visit Gina Roberts-Grey online at