By Mark Macias
Everyone needs a gimmick when it comes to PR and it’s no different than living in New York City.
As any New Yorker will tell you, if you want to stand out at a cocktail party, you need material to push you above the crowd. Some call that personality; others call it charisma. I like to call it a gimmick.
It’s no different when branding a product, business, or service with the media. You need to discover what your gimmick is if you want the media to take notice.
Now before the critics start breaking down that statement with comments like, “That is shallow,” or “Execution beats style,” – I agree with you.
But let’s take off that analytical cap for a sec and discuss this idea not in black and white terms, but in gray terms – which is where publicity lives.
Many entrepreneurs rightly assume that “gimmick” implies a form of forgery or scheme of deception. Think of it as a way to distinguish your business from the crowd.
There are hundreds of public relations firms in the U.S., so my PR firm, Macias PR, needs to stand out from the packed field.
What’s my gimmick?
I am a former journalist who understands intuitively and intimately how the media works. I’ve been inside (and run) those morning news meetings where stories are approved and killed.
I know what it takes to get a story on the news.
That is what separates me from other publicists.
It’s no different for your business. If you can’t identify your gimmick, then you are in trouble, because consumers have no reason to buy your product.
What was President Obama’s “gimmick” when he ran against Sen. John McCain? Barack Obama was the man with hope. I’m sure Mr. Obama believed it, but that was, in essence, a gimmick.
So if you are starting a business (and it doesn’t matter what you are selling), you’d better discover your gimmick before the doors are opened. If you need to brainstorm on a future gimmick, ask yourself what you can do to stand out from the crowd. Sure, it’s a simple question, but most lawyers, accountants, and medical doctors don’t acknowledge that question on day one.
Perhaps that is because they are choosing to use their left brain over their right brain.
Now that I think about it, these are probably the same people who are arguing that a “gimmick” is shallow and will never work.
Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC, Senior Producer with WCBS and Special Projects Producer with NBC. He’s also the author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. Macias now consults small and large businesses on how to get publicity. You can read more on his firm at MaciasPR.