Find out how to avoid the Matthew 13 problem. Check out our new post at The Association of Christian Businesses website.
It is no longer enough to ask "How does my song sound?" or "Will radio play it?" In today's visual world, you need to also be asking, "How does this song look?"
Indeed, the platform for music has changed dramatically in just the past few years. Today, a Susan Boyle can become a worldwide phenomenon overnight because of YouTube.
And now, music videos will begin officially affecting the Hot 100:
"Billboard and Nielsen announced this week the addition of U.S. YouTube video streaming data to its platforms, which includes an update to the methodology for the Billboard Hot 100, the preeminent singles chart. The YouTube streaming data is now factored into the chart’s ranking, enhancing a formula that includes Nielsen’s digital download track sales and physical singles sales; as well as terrestrial radio airplay, on-demand audio streaming, and online radio streaming, also tracked by Nielsen." (See full story here.)
Groups such as OK GO saw the paradigm shift early on and focused more on how their music looked, creating captivating and creative music videos that caught the attention of both consumers and ad buyers. (See Wall Street Journal article here. Worth the read.) As the lead singer and guitarist for the band stated, "We're just moving out of the brief period—a flash in history's pan—when an artist could expect to make a living selling records alone."
It is past time for artists to think beyond the chords and guitar licks when they go into the recording studio. Artists should spend just as much time thinking about what props and locations they will need to create a memorable visual -- and possibly career-altering-- impression.
I am so happy to follow up my last post (some called, rant) with a good...great...no, EXCELLENT example of how a prominent Christian leader can handle the mainstream media. Norah O'Donnell and Charlie Rose did their dead-level best to trip up Pastor Rick Warren, but they failed miserably. Thank you Pastor Rick for making all Christians look smart, informed and Christ-like.
After nearly 25 years of representing well-known Christian authors, singers, speakers and other public figures, I am breaking my own unwritten rule today. After watching yet another prominent pastor/author being torn to pieces on a mainstream network, I must intervene. With very few exceptions, when a popular Christian personality sits for a “conversation” with a mainstream TV reporter, it never ends well. So I want to point directly to the elephant in the room. I want to talk directly to the most famous among us. I understand that your book publisher wants to schedule you on all the mainstream talk shows they can, theoretically, to sell more books. But let me clarify something your mother should have told you at a young age. “No” is a complete sentence.
Just say no. Stop it.
It doesn't matter how many people go to your church. It doesn’t matter how many watch you on TV on a weekly basis. The mainstream media is unimpressed. They will never, ever, ever, ever (emphasis) EVER like you. In fact, their goal too often is to make you look like a blithering idiot. And here's a newsflash: you will not sell more books by looking like a numbskull on TV. If anything, you will make the people who do love you and do buy your books question your thoughtfulness, intelligence and convictions. They may even question why they are going to your church or watching you on television. That's when your all-important appearance on the mighty mainstream media becomes what we call in the biz -- a bad PR move.
Is all mainstream media biased against Christians? Of course not. Probably only 99.988% of them. There are some that will play fair (and balanced), but for the most part, you should steer clear. Or at the very least, do some homework. Your publicist should tell you before any interview is booked what the topics will be, who the hosts will be as well as their biases and backgrounds. That information alone can give you some clue as to the tone of the potential interview. If anything smells fishy, then guess what, it is probably a fish. Probably a whole lake full of them. Just say no. I will never understand how you get talked into these things. And shame on the publicist that leads you to the slaughter. They should be looking out for you better than that. If you don’t have a public relations person who cares how you appear in public, then for heaven’s sake, fire them.
Not all press is good press. Look away from the mirror and stare at reality for just a sec. You may convince yourself that you are going to “sup with the sinners” as Jesus would do, but Jesus was also very clear to his disciples about what to do when their message fell on deaf ears. Read Luke 9:5 where Jesus says, "And wherever they do not receive and accept and welcome you, when you leave that town shake off [even] the dust from your feet, as a testimony against them." But I know what you're thinking. You want to represent Christ to the lost and dying world. That's a noble thought, and it can actually be done well sometimes with the proper preparation. Unfortunately, what you typically end up doing is making yourself, and therefore Jesus, look foolish. It not only doesn’t sell your book, it doesn’t sell His message either. Shake off the dust. Please. Stop.
I'm giving away a family secret now. My husband is a Bigfoot fan. Yes, that's right. He believes in Sasquatch. Ask him and he'll prattle on about a moment in the woods in rural Kentucky as a child. Big noises, Trees falling. Very dramatic. So you can imagine his delight when the Animal Planet put the series "Finding Bigfoot" on the air. My husband got his popcorn ready every Sunday night to finally see this elusive, Ninja-like creature that has alluded men for decades. But a funny thing happened. Each week he watched and each week they didn't find it. Again. And again. And again. Last night was the last straw for my husband as they announced the series' season finale. "If they don't find something next week," my husband exclaimed, "I'm writing Animal Planet and telling them to take the show off the air. This show is making me NOT believe."
I don't want to second guess Animal Planet or the BFRO folks (Bigfoot Field Research Organization), but I'm assuming this is not the reaction they were going for from viewers. I get the sense that they wanted the opposite effect. Surely they hoped that people on the fence or over the fence on the Sasquatch theory (i.e. hubby) would get involved with the BFRO, buy their stuff, Like their Facebook page, get the t-shirt, hat, yada, yada. But it seems, instead, they are making believers into non-believers. Bummer.
So what does any of this have to do with PR? Well, this is a good example of a bad PR move. Someone at the network didn't think this through. I mean, at some point, just make something up for Pity's Sake so these poor Sasquatch folk can keep thinking that giant ape-like men are alive and well. What we have here is a case of not having the end goal in mind. Every public relations campaign should start at the end. Everything in the middle should lead to the same end. Otherwise, your good intentions will lead your PR efforts down the wrong path-- to that place of eternal sweat where all good intentions lead. And apparently, there is no Bigfoot there either.
"If I was given eight hours to chop down a tree. I would spend seven hours sharpening my ax." - Abraham Lincoln
There are parts of a PR campaign that should remain silent. Those “quiet” moments of no TV cameras pointed at the client, no radio interviews on the calendar,and no articles in magazines can seem pointless to anxious clients who want to see fast results. But as Abe reminds us, preparation is often the most important part of the process. Those “silent” days and weeks at the beginning of a publicity campaign are when a PR consultant should be getting a client ready to face the media. It may involve everything from getting social media in place to having multi-media components produced to updating a website to working through interview preparations. Many clients want to hit the ground running – and they can – because they walk into a publicity campaign with all elements already in place. But most do not. And the preparation phase (or lack thereof) will make or break the entire campaign itself. You only get one chance to make that first impression. Make sure the ax is sharp.
The Christian Booksellers Association has issued the following statement:
Warning to Christian authors.
CBA has been informed that Christian authors are being contacted by an organization called PublishAmerica that’s soliciting for authors to submit their books to a sales/marketing catalog that they claim will be going to CBA. Please be aware that CBA has no knowledge of PublishAmerica; that PublishAmerica is not connected to Christian Store Week; and that CBA has no agreement of any kind with PublishAmerica, nor is CBA affiliated in any way, shape, or form with that organization.
View it on their official website here.
Although I always stress to clients the importance of being prepared for interviews, having talking points in order and being consistent and concise when making specific comments, this is an example of taking all those tips to the extreme. This British politician's answer is polished and well said--the first time. But when he repeats the exact same answer the next two times, regardless of the question, the interview becomes -- as my teenage son would say -- fail.
Everyone knows how to measure their I.Q.. But have you considered your E.Q.? With social media becoming the communication tool of choice for people of all ages, your E.Q. (Empathy Quotient) needs to become a chief consideration. You may have a Facebook page with lots of fans, but are you communicating with them in a meaningful way or do you just constantly bombard them with links to your website store? If you are a Christian communicator, your E.Q. needs to be especially high. You should never take your fans or Twitter followers for granted. You need to learn to engage effectively with them on a meaningful level. Your "Page" is not the only one they have "Liked." But it could be one they truly love and trust. Learn to build your E.Q. and you will form relationships that will last for years.
Publicity stunts are nothing new. In fact, they are getting more and more prevalent in today's YouTube society. Many Christian artists feel hiring a publicist is actually at odds with the standards of someone in the ministry. But the truth is, even a shameless publicity stunt can lead to a ministry moment.
Take the Opera Company of Philadelphia and their "Random Acts of Culture" campaign. They took 650 singers disguised as shoppers to Macy's in Philadelphia. With the Wanamaker Organ to accompany them, they "spontaneously" burst into the Hallelujah Chorus. But this blatant PR stunt can't possibly lead to ministry, can it? Watch the video below and you decide. Can you tell the "official" singers from the shoppers by the end? I'm assuming the Opera Company's motive was not to create a spiritual moment, but it happened anyway. Ministry + PR = Great Commission.