On one of those rare occasions when I get to be a passenger, I get the opportunity to really notice and read the billboards.
You can tell a lot about an area by the advertising -- I'm often amazed/amused by all the adverts for attorneys and law firms when I'm in places like California. The best one to date: "Half-priced lawyers dot com" ! FINALLY some honest billing for honest effort - LOL
In our area of Minneapolis/St. Paul, we seem to have somewhat of a banking war going on -- I'm not even sure its for actual accounts or for raw mind-share.
In an ever escalating war, one large national bank had the audacity to just come out and tell me they were the best -- "Laughable at best" was what I thought.
What was amusing was that in all my most recent experiences with said bank I couldn't find really anything that they had done that even rose to the level of mediocrity. In other words, they sucked at being average.
I have many friends in theater - Actors, musicians, dancers, puppeteers and many more. They often ask me how do I make a successful living as a performer. Well. Its quite simple and very difficult.
a. People perform fo a variety of reasons, but mostly because they love it.
b. Theater succeeds because audiences buy tickets.
A & B are not the same and are only marginally related. Caring about something, even if you care a great deal, will not cause it to become a successful business.
Over the years I have many (many, many) friends try and create a successful theater business...and nearly all fail. In their defense they usually have tons of talent and infinite drive. But you need that and a business sense.(1) And capital. And luck.
There are some theater models that tend to work:(2)
- Dinner theater
- talent shows
- Stand-up comedy
- renaissance fairs
And there are some that almost never work:
- bagpipe musicals
- all mime
In the Twin Cities there are 50+ theater companies; and they mostly do the same things. They are successful.
BIG IDEA: Before you start a theater business (or ANY business) do a little research -- Find out which models tend to work.
1. Know anything about marketing? reading a P&L sheet? The difference between an employee and a contractor? The non-profit model?
2. Mostly by being popular, selling food and alcohol and keeping expenses under gross income.)
Several friends of mine are, even now, making their way through the world of reality shows - that is to say they are contestants. (Search the Danger Committee.)
Is the above statement true?
These 'reality' shows -- American idol, Survivor New Jersey, America's got talent, Last comic standing, Biggest loser, Clowns arounds town, etc. are currently very popular. However...
I lie for a living.
Is the above statement true?
I work as an actor and magician.
I have been paid to lie...to you. Do you assume when someone calls in to a radio station that person is un-paid, does not know the DJ and just happens to be quirky, interesting, controversial?
I have been a farmer, a regular guy eating a hamburger, a fake member of a fake audience at a fake tv show for a real movie. ( Too meta?)
I have been paid to call into radio shows and play characters -- but as if I were just a regular person. The audience never knew.
Reality? Good marketing? Fair?
Reality shows are under no obligation to present reality. They select, encourage, script, re-shoot and edit. They want to have great TV, not represent what really is. TV is under no obligation to present reality - No, not even the news shows.
Public Relations deals, almost entirely, with IMAGE. The IMAGE they want to present. Your brand is a very select version of the whole you.
How do you feel about the president?
You have never met Mr. Obama.
Your feelings about him come almost entirely from his image - good or bad -- and how his policies were spun.
The line between real (news, food, television, talent) and made up for a purpose, but not actually what happened/ what is happening...is gone. Blurred out of existence.
Today's BIG idea; Reality is not always reality. Control (Or attempt to control) your image & brand. And be aware that others are doing the same.
One key function of Public Relations is recovery...after your company makes a huge error.
The advice from PR professionals is always the same.
1. Admit your errors.
2. Fix them.
Et tu? British Petroleum.
So Travelers insurance, my insurance company for 15+ years....
BACKGROUND: My agent Mary Forslin, over at Doliff insurance, sent Travelers an inquiry about our policy. Travelers treated it as a change and cancelled us. And then opened us up a new policy at twice the previous rate. This was quite surprising to us as we had no notice of the change. It also caused some considerable stress.
So we did what you might do - called and emailed our agent, asking for more information...Now here, dear reader you might expect that we got a call back right away explaining and apologizing...Nope. We spent days wondering what had happened and how we were going to pay our bill.
ASIDE: Our agent, Mary, is not an adjuster. Travelers handles that. She neither sends no receives our billings. Her whole job, and in fact her job title is "customer service." Her only job is customer communication -- that's it. Literally nothing else. No call back from her or anyone else in the office.
Days later we call her again (after emailing as well for answers.) She explains the mistake. She begins to fix the mistake. Anyway can she get us a correct bill on time for payment? -- No idea, as she doesnt offer this solution. And, for whatever reason -- no apology to me.
Cost of an apology - zero dollars.
Value of a prompt call and apology - PRICELESS
BIG IDEA: Mistakes will happen. Assure that Your PR department -- even if that's just you -- is ready to shine. Admit. Fix. Apologize.
POSTSCRIPT -- A full year later -- Still no apology to me from our agent. Oh, and caught another billing error on their part. (An error, oddly enough, in their favor. Again.)