Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Why New Yorkers Make Great Publicists

The cell phone and portable worlds of laptops and tablets make it possible to work anywhere, especially if you’re a publicist. In fact, many publicists can work from another country.  But the best publicist comes from New York City.  Here’s why:

1.      New Yorkers are aggressive and know how to strategize to get what they want. Their overcrowded environment forces them to deal with situations daily that involve getting somewhere on time, competing for everything including a seat on the subway, and fighting for scarce resources.

2.      New Yorkers are used to thinking on their feet because they constantly have to adapt to changing circumstances.

3.      New Yorkers self-filter.  They wouldn’t be there if they weren’t survivors of the fittest.  Those who purposely move here or those who are forced to leave create a population of crafty, scrappy, energized individuals.

4.      New Yorkers are used to overcoming setbacks or barriers. All around them are physical obstacles but they learn to navigate a safe passage.

5.      New Yorkers are confident, even when they have no legitimate reason to feel cocky.  In fact, they can be arrogant.  But when you want a publicist to promote you as if you are the only expert out there, you want someone who will push forward against all the odds.

6.      The digital world may be global but the worlds of commerce, publishing, fashion, advertising and television are all headquartered in New York City.  Don’t you want your publicist establishing personal relationships and using them on your behalf?

7.      A new survey confirms the perception that New Yorkers are rude. Though you’d expect that to be a negative for an industry (PR) that deals in human relationships, I look at the definition of rude as assertive, forthcoming and energized.  Travel and Leisure magazine’s survey puts New Yorkers last in niceness out of 35 cities.  But look at the friendliest-ranked cities.  Are they known for business success?  New Orleans, San Juan, Nashville and Savannah aren’t exactly filling the Forbes, Inc. or Fortune lists for wealthy people.

The worst things about New York – overcrowded, crime-filled, noisy, overpriced and dirty – are what make New Yorkers the best at so many things, including PR.

And if you disagree with me, you can go screw yourself! See, New York has taught me well.

Interview With Novelist Tom Fitzgerald

A colleague of mine is promoting Poor Richard’s Lament, an interesting novel by Tom Fitzgerald (Published by Hobblebush Books). I interviewed the author who creatively put together a Ben Franklin-based piece of fiction, and here is what he had to say:

1.      What is it about Ben Franklin that we are discussing him 200 years later? Unlike many of his contemporaries, Ben Franklin is approachable to us in our imagining of him. He is everyone’s uncle. He is also perhaps one of most fascinating people who ever lived. He’s the kind of person we would want to get stuck in an elevator with.

2.      Having founded our modern day library system, what would he make of the book industry today? Ever the practical man, Ben would immediately set up shop on the Internet. He would establish a blog site, one or more social-media pages, and a Twitter account, and he would get right down to the business of disseminating information and facilitating understanding. Ben would recognize that the traditional means of informing and edifying the public – physical books, newspapers, magazines, and libraries – could no longer be counted on to do the job. He would waste not a minute on mourning the passing of lead type and printer’s ink. Ever the nom de plumeist, Ben would likely name his blog something akin to Salon of the Esteemed Silence Dogood, and he would open it up to discourse on all matters worth the bother. To entice participation, he would likely sprinkle his pages with jimmies known to him as ‘moral sentences, prudent maxims, and wise sayings.’

3.      He is a legendary innovator. How can we give today's newest generation a head start in being as creative and curious as he was? Ben Franklin was almost 100% self-taught, self-inspired, and self-disciplined. He spent a few weeks at Mr. Brownell’s Grammar School, and a few weeks at the Boston Latin School; otherwise, he was his own master, so to say. He whetted his own appetite for understanding and innovation, and he taught himself to imagine possibility. For example, he invented swim fins when he was but a pint.  Bottom line: We would do well to teach our children to take charge of their own education, to regard learning and imagining as a responsibility, not as a right.

4.      Your book is a novel with Ben Franklin at the center of the action. What is your story about? When I speak about PRL, I ask my audience to imagine a 255-pound linebacker sitting on one end of a teeter-tatter, and an 8-year-old girl sitting on the other. I then ask my audience: Does this image fit our world today? Are things fundamentally out of balance? What do you see when you pick up a newspaper, or surf news sites on the Internet?  PRL posits a culture in crisis, suggests a cause, and offers a way out. Ben is front and center, as himself, in all regards.

5.      What advice can you share with a struggling writer? “Many are called, but few have the self-discipline to get there.” Dig yourself into a rut of routine and never come out!  (And turn your cell phone off!)

6.      What would you say to BF if he were alive today? Come back! We need you! There are no leaders today! Only ego!

E-Reader Invasion 
We know that book publishing is transitioning into e-books but now we can measure the pace. It’s fast and furious.  A Pew study shows 10% of Americans owned one-reader in December 2011.  By January, after the holidays concluded, the numbers nearly doubled to 19%.  Further, the number of Americans with an e-reader or tablet (like an iPad), jumped to 29% from 18%.  If 80% of book sales last year were with printed books my guess is the number could decline to 70% this year.

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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