This year has been one of the most memorable of my life. And, if it all goes according to plan, 2009 will be remembered as the year I created the year’s “Ultimate Marketing Gimmick.”
Here’s the back story: In September, 2008, I was laid off from a journalism job and decided to go into PR instead.
It wasn’t a case of slumming. During my 20 years as a professional journalist, I consulted for PR companies like Weber Shandwick and Edelman and helped account executives craft pitches that would be used by the media (and gave them someone to blame when they didn’t).
Unlike other journalists, I didn’t hate PR people. I liked them. I just didn’t like the fact they wouldn’t date me.
Anyway, there were many times when a pitch I created would end up getting used on the Tonight Show, David Letterman or ABC News, but when I switched careers during the worst recession since the 1930s, that seemingly important fact wasn’t as important as my lack of agency experience.
What to do? What to do?
So what did I do? Well, I created “2009’s Ultimate Marketing Gimmick.” Uh, actually, I created a puppet show.
Hey, desparate times create desparate measures. I realized that in order for PR pros to consider hiring me, I had to do something to stick out and show I was different.
So, back in January, I created a puppet show, called “PR Puppet Theatre” (natch).
I grabbed five of my daughter’s puppets and pretended they were my PR clients with different PR problems. I cornered Ronald Christopher Jones, a Shakespearean-trained actor, and bribed him to do the puppets and we filmed the episodes in about 90 minutes in his bedroom.
But the reason I am up for the coveted honor of “2009’s Ultimate Marketing Gimmick” isn’t because I did some silly YouTube clips, it’s because I actually got press for it.
One was CNBC journalist Jane Wells, who likes to make fun of publicists at her Funny Business blog. She called “PR Puppet Theatre” “must see entertainment/ education for every PR flack.”
Another was journalist Ian Halperin, who is best known for his recent Michael Jackson tell-all.
I also took advantage of every HARO query regarding social media and wacky ways to get jobs and that’s how I ended up being nominated as “2009’s Ultimate Marketing Gimmick” by blogger Ryan Hart.
I’ve never met nor talked with Mr. Hart, but I can tell that he’s a smart man.
In addition, I took advantage of the acclaim surrounding PR Puppet Theatre by telling potential employers, “If I can get CNBC to do a story about a cheesy puppet show, think of what I can do for your good clients.”
The acclaim has been great, but the real thrill was that the series (and the press I obtained for it) actually led to an agency job at Alternative Strategies as well as many new friends and some great clients.
Plus, besides leading me to a fun new career, PR Puppet Theatre has led me to a new appreciation for what it takes to be a puppet of the media.
And that’s something that no one can take from me, even if I don’t end up winning the honor of being “2009’s Ultimate Marketing Gimmick” (and, right now, it looks like the guy who created the “Find Chuck Norris” is way ahead).
David Moye is the media relations manager of Alternative Strategies, a full service marketing communications firm. As a media professional with more than 20 years of experience in journalism, PR and publicity, he has used many alternative strategies to get publicity for his clients and has also worked as a consultant for national PR companies like Hill and Knowlton, Fleishman Hillard and Edelman where he helped PR pros tailor their pitches for maximum pop culture impact. He is the creator of PR Puppet Theatre, a YouTube instructional series that was “must-see entertainment/ education for every PR flack.”