How To: Successful Public Relations Publicity For
in the Internet Age
THE EASY WAY!
by Kevin James Salveson
It is a truism that there is a sucker born every minute. As the owner of a circus, PT Barnum knew some things about public relations. Number one, people love a freakshow. Number two, newspapers have to have something sensational to sell. It's a match made in heaven. Now, in the internet age, times that by a million. These days, You want negative PR; it works everytime that it works!
The goal of public relations is of course the inducement of a response by the target audience (a click, a view, an act of branding, dissemination of your information). In the age of the internet that means making the algos that determine content placement on websites across cyberspace think you are indispensible.
YOU MUST TRICK THE ROBOTS to survive. It's the Skynet era and you are John Connor. Only the unpredictible and passionate human with wiles that the machines can't fathom will survive.
But the problem is you have no money to do so by traditional means. OR like me you are just a tightwad with your cash and you want to play the game for free.
Well, traditionally, if you spent a lot of money you could of course make your audience swallow any kind of crap you shoveled them. Astroturf campaigns and Geffin records can do wonders. In the old days, just like the Soviet model, there used to be only one or two State-sponsored stores and no one else used to be able to get shelf-space metaphorically. If it's on a shelf someone will pluck it up. So... spending enough on TV or magazine ads and radio play for anyone could establish ubiquity in terms of media presence for a band in olden days of yore (the 1980s). But now there's any easier, cheaper way!
Because of the relative anonymity of the net your game is a simple one: to exploit the hidden but powerful morbid curiosity of your audience and the media itself by stirring up crappy fake controversy or other stunts that the media will not be able to look away from until you go viral. Like Pavlov's dog, blow that whistle loud enough and they will come salivating!
You see, children... the media today (television, print, subscription cable/online/streaming models, and online ad-driven content websites like Pop Matters) are all madly desperate to get a small share of the viewing public's attention. It's a snake that eats its tail. The artists are desperate for attention. The labels are desperate for attention. The PR pros are desperate for attention. The advertising people are desperate for attention. And the content pipe people on the net are all desperate for attention too. It's funny, but also kinda pathetic. It's a hothouse atmosphere that would make PT proud.
So why not play the game to win? Sure, you may have your dignity but without good PR no one is ever gonna know how dignified you were. Best to play the game and play to win. Here are six quick steps to free explosive PR on the internet.
1. Step One: Start legit. Have a good product and write a professional sounding press release. Email it out to all the emails you can gather of bloggers and editors and writers at music sites. Note: Send it in the name of a fictitious company employee. (Later on we'll see that's key.)
You can also send them in the mail to college radio stations and such but, again, why spend money when you can get the robots to do your bidding for free. I mean... they're machines! Are you going to let humanity lose the fight againt the sinister robot algos that secretly run our lives? No way. Think of our children and their future.
2. Step Two: Wait for them to blow you off (which they will). See, they don't know you from Adam yet. More importantly, you haven't spent any money with them. Do you really think Geffin gets Rolling Stone front covers for his artists on their merit? No, of course not. There is an unstated quid pro quo. You buy adspace in the rag, you get their attention and coverage. There's nothing really wrong with that... money always is the bottom line every time. Get used to it. Or get Extabbed!
3. Step 3: After they blow you off send a repeat of the same email as before but add a little bit at the bottom about how you were displeased that they blew you off. State that you keep a database of Industry people and that you have now marked them a rating of 'avoid'.
4. Step 4: After they blow that email off (and they will) re-send the email a last time and be as rude and explicitly confrontational as you can. (Again, this is your fictitious employee doing this).
5. Step Five: Publish the interactions you get on your own website. Here's a real world example (I redacted the name for privacy's sake but the email is a public email address etc and I was the intended recipient). Watch as we do the very thing that we at Extab are showing you how to do:
A. Send email #1:
From: Extablisment Media
Sept 27, 2015
Dear XX and editors at PopMatters,
Extablisment Media, headed by former Morgan Stanley portfolio manager Kevin Salveson, recently set up shop in the Los Angeles area in order to spread their good cheer to the world at large via multi-lingual multimedia including music, video, books and Chinese language professional services. EXTABLISMENT hosts a galaxy of stars hailing from the beaches of Los Angeles and the desert sands of the Inland Empire all the way to the fertile valleys of China and places reachable only in the imagination.
Check out a sample here:
Recent Extablisment releases include: 1. The Undertoad - Live in Hollywood (DVD)
2. The Undertoad - Look At All The Pretty Colors
(The Undertoad are justly famous around these parts for their brand of music dubbed 'crip-core' as well for their lead singer, the owner of the Fox Theater (in conjunction with Goldenvoice) in the I.E., a venue which hosts national touring acts like Run The Jewels, Deftones, Morrissey, etc).
3. lamontikon datastreams - Galactic Incubator 4. KAL - To Kal With Love, Phyllis Diller
5. The Research Chymicals - Bioassay
Beyond that, the release we are most proud of this week is the debut album by Chinese rock and roller FAZI. FaZi 发子 (China 中国摇滚) is a folk rock singer-songwriter from China. Specifically, his career originated in the late 1980's out of Yuan Ming Yuan, the "Old Summer Palace" of the emperor in Beijing. A Chinese rock and roll pioneer, Fazi was playing his 1959 Sunburst Gibson at local shows and listening to western rock even before 1989 and the TianAnMen Square protests finally opened much of China's up to the outside world. (Before that it was entirely illegal and underground). The Yuan Ming Yuan Garden of Gardens was sacked by European armies at the end of the 1800's. Hence, when FAZI set up his music and art studio there in the 1980's and 90s all that was left of it was the ruins. He lived up against one of the old mud brick walls of the the Old Summer Palace in a glen by a lake far from the authoritarian atmosphere which ruled greater China at the time.
The Yuan Ming Yuan artist colony is now legendary in Asia as the first and most prominent place where free speech and contemporary art first caught fire in China's modern era. Now, years after, Extablisment has uncovered FAZI's original recordings from the Yuan Ming Yuan era and made them available to the public for the first time since Yuan Ming Yuan was shut down by the Chinese government!
The songs on the FAZI album were initially recorded on a lo-fi recorder in 1994 by KAL during the time he and FaZi formed a rock band and played shows all around Beijing before the Yuan Ming Yuan shutdown. Because of the historical import of the recordings, and because of FaZi's powerful voice, the songs on his debut album are definitely of historical import if not of great studio quality.
To purchase high resolution 24 bit DVDs with extra videos and songs (as well as some other goodies), visit the Extab Store. For more about Fa Zi including a longer biography based on the soon to be released non-fiction book by Kevin James Salveson, "Middle Finger Kingdom" as well as an excerpt from the in-development FaZi movie script, visit:
Thanks for your consideration and coverage of this earth-shattering, ground-breaking event in the history of recorded music!
Wei Xu Extablisment PR - -
818-852-6429 - 7482 holloway rd R.C., CA 91730
B. When they don't reply, send the same email (#2) but with a different header:
From: Extablisment Media <>
Date: Thu, Oct 29, 2015 at 8:39 AM
Subject: Fwd: FAZI, one of China's most respected '80s rock and rollers, releases Debut
To: PopMatters <>
Dear XXX and PopMatters,
You failed to acknowledge receipt of our prior message so we are sending this again in the hopes of receiving a professional response from your company. Please send over a tear-sheet of your coverage when applicable, thanks.
No reply means we will list your in our database as a firm with a rating of "avoid." Still, I would guess that if your firm is going with features on The Pet Shop Boys (25 years ago) and Danny Elfman's brother (30+ years ago) that you might also want to cover recent events and new artists as well. Hence, we are reaching out to alert you that history is being made right now and you might want to be in the loop! We love PM and get new videos from there all the time. We thought you would deem it your responsibility to disseminate breaking Extab news important to your readers. Thus, please review FAZI's debut album in the West on your fine site. (Rest of Press Release).
C. When they don't reply to that one or even list your little rinky-dink press release info on their site (just as you expected) you POUNCE with email #3!
From: Extablisment Media <>
Date: Friday, December 11, 2015 at 11:11 AM
To: XX <>
Subject: Fwd: FAZI, one of China's most respected '80s rock and rollers, releases Debut
Hey, Popmatters Editors!
You fucked up and forgot to run this news item. We'll forgive you this time but don't do it again or we'll have to start shitting all over you. Listen-- either you serve your audience or you will go out of business. (rest of press release).
D. Now, with any luck, you will have garnered an actual response from your target simply because they feel they can't pass up the urge to upbraid you for your poor PR style or profanity or some other granny-ass shit. PERFECT! You want to rise their ire enough to get them to respond. Ok! Now you've got them communicating with you! It's official. Slap that right up on your website!
Because when you do that the robots SEE YOUR BAND AND BRAND are communicating with a powerful honcho at one of the world's biggest media organizations. HOW CAN THE ROBOTS IGNORE THAT? They can't. They're robots, they're stupid. They don't know better; they only reinforce their own algos and the programmers' biases.
And they could never love music the way a human does.
Now THIS is a brouhaha that the cute little CPUs can't ignore. It's a spectacle! And, as a bonus, you can make it look like a Trumped up critique of the media itself at the same time!!
E. So...Here's the kind of reply you should expect to get from your media target if they take the bait (using our real world example):
"FROM: XXX <>
9:27 AM (1 hour ago)
This is probably not the best approach for getting press coverage…
--- Editor & Publisher | PopMatters Media, Inc. | 3501 N. Southport Ave. #466 | Chicago, IL 60657 USA |
Three weekly PopMatters columns are syndicated on the McClatchy-Tribune wires: PopMatters Picks, Sound Affects and The Riff Report
CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This email message (and any attached files) is intended only for the addressee(s) and contains information that may be privileged or confidential. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify the sender by reply email and immediately delete this message. Any use, disclosure, or reproduction of this email by anyone other than the intended recipient(s) is strictly prohibited.
F. Perfect!! Just what we wanted, they took the bait. At least she was smart enough to hedge her bet and say it's "probably" not the "best" approach. That means she agrees that thee is at least a chance it is a pretty good approach! See...Pop Matters agrees with Extablisment in a way after all! Now hit them where it hurts with one of those 'negs' that works so well with the pick-up artist crowd in your follow up!
FROM: EXTABLISMENT To: XXX <>
9:27 AM (1 hour ago)
Dear XX, Thanks for the reply. I'm gonna get real with you for a sec just for fun and see how it goes. .... You seem to misunderstand several things about your job.
1. You're not going to be at Pop Matters in four years anyway if you know what you're doing. EXIT STRATEGY, people... it's the way to bank money in the world of big business.
2. Popmatters won't be around in ten years anyway; don't take it personal, they lov to call the net the "creative destroyer" just like Shiva.
3. You think Extablisment doesn't know the power of negative coverage? The media is about spectacle, honey. You or someone like you will swallow the bait. That is the game and how it is played. I didn't create the environment where that is a winning strategy but why not win at it?
4. If we really cared about sucking up to the establishment we'd have called ourselves something different. We've already made our nut, we don't need to be beholden to anyone, and that gives us the freedom to do what we please. And 5:
Most importantly, you did blow us off the first time but not the second time. You'd never heard of us before and now you do.
G. Now, for your last email, here's the part where you pawn the whole imbroglio off as just a problem with a rogue employee (for plausible media deniability) and then give them some backhanded compliments as an olive branch of sorts. Hopefully, this muddies the waters and confuses them which simply confirms that your strategy is beguiling them like mad! (By this time your target will probably be ashamed they got trolled and won't reply but it doesn't matter-- they now have heard of you!!)
Extablisment Media <>
10:23 AM (1 hour ago) to:
Actually, all kidding aside, we here at Extab respect your work. My boss said I have to say that or he'll fire me for doing a bad job. Please don't get me fired!
You built an empire from the ground up, pretty cool. Because of that, we're going to give you a break. Instead of the previous rating of 'avoid'. We'll upgrade your site to a rating of 'neutral' as long as you make your staff do what they're paid to do...repeat the words that come out of other people's mouths. Best regards and thanks in advance,
Wei Xu - Extablisment PR -
6. AND THAT'S HOW IT'S DONE!
Either they write about your cheap stunt themselves (free PR) or they hate your unprofessional little weasely guts and vow to never publish anything about you or your band. SO AT LEAST THEY'VE HEARD OF YOU. Mission accomplished there, just like Bush on the aircraft carrier! And then the netbots will start associating your band with the media outlet because you have it in writing that they're ALL ON YOUR JOCK!
Eventually, if you piss enough people off (if you try hard enough I know you can), YOU CAN EVEN SAY THE INDUSTRY IS BLACKBALLING YOU! Then you'll get yourself a badass outlaw reputation that is BOXOFFICE GOLD with an audience which romanticizes rebellion.
It's so true that I've just gotta keep putting it in ALL CAPS and italics!
It's a perfect no-lose situation. Eiither you get what you want or you can be the aggrevied outsider with rightousness! You'll be the band everyone loves to hate. As they say in the world of PR, hey, just spell the name right!
Over time you'll be famous within the industry; from there it's not such a leap that some media outlet will do an article on you called 'The Biggest Asshole Band in the Music Business". WIN WIN!! FREE PR!! IF YOU SHIT ON IT THEY WILL COME!
Now, I could write a whole diatribe here about how it's the media's own fault for being such a rubbernecker and perform some ablutions for taking advantage of unwitting media establisment people as a cheap PR stunt, but why bother. This is the age of Donald Trump. Get on the bus or get left behind, said the media when they treated him seriously. So now-- its a free for all! Go for it, people.
And hopefully you've been just meta enough about it to have your cake and throw it in their faces too!
7. You're a success! Be ready to get wise to the world of nice things.
Now, this way to see the Amazing Egress!!
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