Unrequited love: a Smarties Tale

by Smartie on October 27, 2010

Does this look like an up-and-coming pop star?

Once upon a time, it was the mid 1990s. Dot coms and New York real estate was booming. Bottle service was getting big. And just about every Off Off Broadway actor-producer decided that they would be in Vanity Fair.

Wait, what?

A tiny production in a small theater on the Lower East Side meant that a Vanity Fair feature would be a logical next step?

Didn’t matter that VF was allergic to theater–even Broadway coverage was (and still is) spotty. They were destined to be together.

In the 90s, Vanity Fair was pretty damn hot. These days, it’s The Daily Show.

There are five slots a week for a guest on The Daily Show. They chose from actors, politicians, journalists, authors, musicians, etc. That’s a lot of people to fill a finite amount of slots. So, an unknown first time author who wrote a rather academic book on an obscure subject? Probably not this time.

Interestingly, when people are shooting for the publicity stars, I always ask why they want to be in Vanity Fair or on The Daily Show. And without fail, it’s often because they are avid fans. They read the magazine or watch the show religiously.

Of course, this is PR101 Rule No. 1: Know your outlet! How often do I preach that?

But sometimes loving an outlet can create a disconnect. It’s not enough to know the outlet. You have to know the outlet objectively.

Because, unfortunately, just because you love the outlet, it doesn’t mean the outlet is going to love you back.

I know it’s damn frustrating that you are 1000 times more talented than the vapid starlet who just graced some famous magazine cover, but often talent is the last thing these outlets are interested in. They want whoever is going to give them the ratings, the newsstand sales, the advertiser dollars.

It’s OK to shoot big, but when you are trying to focus media efforts on outlets that matter, it’s important to be realistic. And “outlets that matter” will not remain the same throughout your career. When you are just starting out, a niche blog is the outlet that matters. As your career grows, so will your media options.

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