How a little media exposure can increase your prospects in a big way
EDITORS NOTE: Marsha Friedman, CEO of the National PR firm EMSI, author of the new book “Celebritize Yourself,” and a long-time Expert Access contributor, originally sent me this content in an email – because she knows I love comics and cartoons. Unbeknownst to her, after I read it, I decided her email, with a little Steveditorial Monomythologizing would make a great story. Not often you can mix Batman, aliens and terminators in a business article. The facts below are all Marsha’s. The Heroes Journey motif is an editorial crib from Joseph Campbell, with a tip of the archetypal hat to Carl Jung as well. — Steve Kayser
ENTER: MARSHA FRIEDMAN
AND THE CALL TO ADVENTURE
In July of 2009, our agency played a behind-the-scenes role in a battle that pitted The Dark Knight against Aliens and Terminators.
It started with taking on the PR campaign of one of Hollywood’s most successful but lesser-known producers, and giving him a high enough profile to stand toe-to-toe with Hollywood hit-maker James (The Terminator, Titanic) Cameron.
Our client, Michael Uslan, executive producer of blockbuster movies like Constantine, Batman, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, was headed to Comic-Con International in San Diego to announce a variety of projects and his new company.
To set the stage, let me try to describe the enormity of Comic-Con. More than 140,000 people attend every year, on a show floor packed with movie studios, book publishers, Internet companies, media firms, television networks and, of course, there are comic book publishers there too.
IT WASN’T REALLY A DARK AND STORMY KNIGHT BUT …
Celebrities like Steven Spielberg, Keanu Reeves, Johnny Depp, Tim Burton and hundreds of others routinely walk the floor and hold panel discussions. More than any other Hollywood trade show, Comic-Con is where movie studios debut new footage, previews and announcements of every movie genre and type. This year would be no different.
THERE WERE AVATAR-LIKE ICEBERGS RUMORED IN THE COMIC-CON SEAS
James Cameron, producer and director of landmark movies like The Terminator, Aliens, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, The Abyss and Titanic, would be the centerpiece of this year’s convention. For the last five years, he has been working on a 3-D animated film called Avatar, and he was debuting the very first footage from that upcoming blockbuster at Comic-Con.
AND THE HEROES JOURNEY REALLY BEGAN (Cribbed from Joseph Campbell’s Heroes Journey … Who cribbed it from Carl Jung)
This was great news for movie fans, but bad news for Michael Uslan, whose solo panel discussion was scheduled against Cameron’s presentation.
THE ROAD OF TRIALS
Our challenge was clear – we needed to populate our client’s panel, who was assigned a 750-seat room in the far wing of the convention center. So, not only did the panel have stiff competition, but it would also be a trek for conventioneers to walk to the venue.
IN THE BELLY OF THE WHALE
What’s worse, the show was only two weeks out.
THE MEETING WITH THE GODDESS
We hit the ground running. The first thing to do was get Michael on the air, pronto. So within a day, we booked him on Fox Business Network’s “Opening Bell” with Alexis Glick.
Alexis and her husband are both huge comic book fans, and she loved having him on the show so much, she did an additional offline interview with him after the taping, and wrote a special blog about his appearance for the Fox Business News website.
THE MAGICAL FLIGHT
Next, we needed to immediately book him some national radio. We scored an hour-long interview on the “X-Zone,” hosted by Rob McConnell that airs on 160-plus stations nationwide.
The same day as his “X-Zone” interview, we pitched print and online media that caters to fans of movies, TV shows, comics and science fiction. The result was 40-plus web clippings widely circulated among the fanbase.
CROSSING THE THRESHOLD
As soon as Michael arrived in San Diego, we had him scheduled on the local Fox affiliate and two other local TV affiliate stations prior to his panel discussion. The stations were provided the schedule for Comic-Con, and ran the schedule as a crawl under the live interviews.
DESCENT INTO THE UNDERWORLD
And then came Friday afternoon, July 24.
I stepped lightly as I made the trek to panel rooms 7A and 7B, a combined venue that would look cavernous if it was empty.
THE ULTIMATE BOON
As I turned the corner, I saw a line of fans that stretched around the corner, and by the time the panel began, there wasn’t an empty seat in the house, and a dozen or so people were standing through the entire discussion.
So, armed with a little bit of radio coverage, a little bit of print and a saturation of local television appearances, we were able to help Michael hold his own against a popular rival in the most important show of the year!