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!