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Friday, March 2, 2012

What Would The World Be Like Without Publicists?


1.      The media would not be as aware or knowledgeable of things. It would have to go out of its way to expose itself to what exists.

2.      More money would need to be spent on advertising to get out messages that normally could be promoted for free through the news media.

3.      Only those things the media knows about will be reported, but it’ll be those things with the strongest merits, as opposed to things publicists put a warped spin on.

4.      Probably fewer products would be sold and thus, fewer would be created.

5.      With sales decreased, prices would rise.

Can a publicist be ethical when his or her job is not to be objective?  To sell something – even a point of view – one may have to lie or at least refrain from revealing all the facts or parts to a complete truth. The publicist’s job is not to make judgments, but merely to communicate a message, creating the most positive presentation and spin for the client.  The world becomes a narrow place where all focus is spotlighted disproportionately on the client, regardless of the merits of the competition.

The difference between a publicist and journalist is the publicist is paid to say only one thing where as the journalist is paid to say whatever appears to be the truth, truly is obligated to balance his coverage and reporting.  The publicist forever seeks to influence, and indeed compromise the journalist, needing the media to adopt the viewpoint of the publicist. But it’s become a game of sorts, a simple exercise of a publicist informing a journalist of a potential story, leaving the burden on the writer to find refutable evidence.  Governments do this every day.  So do people.  We are all publicists of one kind or another, passing ourselves off as something better or more than another. We compete for jobs, lovers – a seat on the subway. Do we do this by dressing sloppy, revealing unflattering facts or acting immaturely? Of course not.

I have never felt like a whore in my career as a publicist because I view my job simply as a messenger or a matchmaker. I merely make the news media aware of a product, person or event. I know they will filter my message and censor where appropriate.  They are obligated to research stories, check sources, question a story, find the facts, and establish what’s news and what’s not.  I am powerless to influence America without the news media.

My clients are authors peddling books.  I know that I could promote any book’s message to the media because I never ask them to agree with the message – just to communicate it to others, to even disagree and criticize it when appropriate, but at least to convey the ideas to the people.

Could I be the publicist for books that advocate a controversial message?  Sure. I would promote it to the media as being a controversial message and the spin would be for the media to debate the topic, not to necessarily promote the exact message proposed in the book. For instance, could I promote a book by a racist?  I don't know, but my hope would be that the media would rip it apart but the client would be happy to get coverage. On the other hand, if I had to put a positive spin and try to convince the media why it would be good to enslave black people and kill all the Jews, I ‘d have a conflict of interest with my conscience.  But the larger problem in promoting a book whose message disagrees with the world I want to live in, is that I know lots of press coverage – even if negative – generates increased book sales.  This means the evil people are getting rich, pocketing money off of hate and building a larger following by virtue of getting their message out.

Another distinction I’d draw is that I could promote a book more readily than a person, even though the two are intimately linked. I mean, promoting Hitler’s Mein Kumpf would be one thing, and I still don’t know if I really could pull it off, but to promote its author, a known killer and evil bastard would break me.  It’s a tough call because I believe in free speech and for the right to have the book published.  I encourage the free flow of information and dissemination of ideas. I fully expect the news media to write about things it despises as much as it loves. But do I really want to be the one who works with such a horrible being, to promote and advocate the very position that if adopted by the masses, would lead to my very execution?

Does a publicist bear any responsibility to society or just to his/her client – or just to his company and boss?

Tough questions…each of us will have to discover our own answer.


Interview With Chris Austin, President, Inflatable Advertising Dealers Association

1.      The Inflatable Advertising Dealers Association Trade Show just came to Las Vegas, February 15-17, 2012. What is that? The IADA (Inflatable Advertising Dealers Association) is the voice of the inflatable industry. Some of the members manufacture a variety of advertising and promotional inflatables while other members focus on selling those inflatables in various areas of the country. The annual convention is a meeting of these manufacturers, special event professionals and inflatable installers. The goal of the trade show is to not only connect manufacturers and sales-focused companies, but provide education and guidance regarding regional regulations, customer requirements and national trends. Additionally, the event provides attendees with a better understanding of the industry and how inflatables are utilized in disparate environments, such as retail, events and the amusement industry. With this knowledge in place, participants at the trade show can leverage community input and apply their skills, creativity and energy to advance industry standards.

2.      How is this type of advertising more cost effective than other forms, such as advertising online or in a publication, direct mailers, etc.? Inflatable advertising and promotions are a form of outdoor advertising, intended to capture the attention of commuters and inform them of a current event, promotion or activity. It is considered by many as the most flexible form of outdoor advertising because the user has the option of deploying, changing and removing advertising inflatables quickly, depending upon what they are promoting. Examples can range from 50' tall product replicas to animated inflatable characters that dance and wave. Inflatables are location specific and bring attention to the location of interest. Compared to passive forms of advertising such as television and radio, these larger than life structures encourage prospective customers to stop and take notice immediately to the event or activity being promoted. Inflatables can be placed on land, in the air and on water.

3.       Inflatable advertising has a visual impact. Which industries or types of business tend to utilize inflatable advertising? Inflatables are most effective in three primary areas – retail businesses, special events and the amusement industry. Any company that demands attention at their immediate location and on a large scale will align with the benefits provided by advertising/promotional inflatables. Examples include automotive dealerships, retail stores, restaurants, amusement parks, carnivals, parades, sporting events, and more. Organizations that have used inflatables in a variety of ways and on a regular basis include the National Football League (NFL), The Walt Disney Company, McDonalds Restaurants, Target Retail Stores and more. For many companies, they are an essential component to their event or location-based promotional success.

4.      As the president of Sky Dancers International, how do you spend your time? I am an inventor and enjoy contributing to industry innovations. Additionally, I remain active with my design team in the development and creation of new ideas for SkyDancer customers to energize their promotional campaigns and events with the latest inflatable technologies. Inspiration and review for many creations come from my 4 year old daughter who is not shy about voicing her opinions as to what is interesting or boring. Outside of product-specific activities, I monitor other areas of the industry to see how innovations outside of the inflatable space can be applied to energize our markets.

5.      Do you think the book publishing world could benefit from utilizing inflatable advertising? Most definitely and there are multiple scenarios where inflatable advertising could play a role. For publishing related trade events, inflatables such as 3D books, 25' tall replicas of authors or images related to the content in books, whether it be presidents, fictional characters or scenery could be used to highlight publishing products. In a second scenario, the latest book could be promoted by retailers carrying it using a low-cost retail promotional device the represents the book. Book stores could promote a new book with rooftop, store front or street-based inflatables to draw attention to what is inside. Creativity plays a big part in how advertising inflatables are used.

For more information, please consult: www.skydancersintl.com

Information Overload Hits Record Levels

I saw an interesting factoid in the Wall Street Journal last week, one that I’m not sure of how it was tabulated, but it said the following and it just blows my mind on the vast amount of information circulating out there:

If every image made and every word written from the earliest stirring of civilization to the year 2003 were converted to digital information, the total would come to five exabytes. An exabyte is one quintillion bytes, or one billion gigabytes – or just think of it as the number one followed by 18 zeros.  That’s a lot of digital data, but it’s nothing compared with what happened from 2003 through 2010:  We created five exabytes of digital information every two days.  Get ready for what’s coming:  By next year, we’ll be producing five exabytes every 10 minutes.

All of this digital material is being logged and recorded and made available to everyone, everywhere, anytime. A recent research paper produced by Nielsen and NM Incite, as revealed by USA Today, shows that we can’t get enough of all things digital. They said:

·         Men and women are equal in smartphone ownership levels but men account for 53% of tablet owners.

·         274 million Americans have access to the Internet at home or work, or some other source double the number of people in 2000. 

·         The 18-34 generation accounts for 23% of the nation’s population but account for 39% of all smartphone owners and 33% of tablet users.

The more people that are online, the more content that will be produced and circulated.

No doubt the digital landscape will change in the next decade.  Who knows, maybe smartphones will disappear and we’ll just access the Net from a chip in our brains. The question is: Will we have the time or capability to digest and understand all that is out there? And will we have the time and capability to then act on it?

Did you even have time to read this blog post and send it to a friend?

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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