FREE ADVERTISING – An Oxymoron
Guest Post By Clive Court
Can I weigh in with some clarifications regarding terms that often get very confusing to many people:
Advertising—is paid for space (in print media) and paid for time (in electronic media) inwhich you totally control the message. So, there’s no such thing as “free advertising” That’s an oxymoron. If you’re not paying for the space or time it’s something else— possibly promotion, publicity, or public relations.
A magician’s brochure or mailing piece is promotion. Contra or cross promotion is when you trade off a show for something of value you can use to promote your business. The local TV station says they would like you to perform on their anniversary show but can’t pay you. You say “my fee is usually $500 and I’ll be happy to take the equivalent in commercial time to promote my show”—straight exchange value for value. That’s contra. But when you get $500 worth of commercial time in return for promoting the TV station during your shows that’s cross-promotion.
When you send a media release to the newspaper calling attention to new illusions and they decide to run a feature about you on the entertainment page, that’s publicity. It’s not “free” publicity because you don’t pay for publicity (if you did, it would be Advertising). However, you may well pay a publicist to make contacts with the media to get them interested in doing stories about you. However, you can’t ask to check the copy, and you can’t control the message. The media can deliver the story in any many they wish— positive or negative.
Public relations is reputation management. It’s anything and everything you do in aplanned manner to build, enhance and manage your reputation. It can involve all the other techniques in a careful mix. Today, this is known as IMC or Integrated Marketing Communications. If you learn to do this well, you spend less on advertising and usually more effectively. Word of Mouth is not advertising unless you’re paying someone to go around talking about you. Before the mass media that’s what Town Criers could do or you might pay a travelling balladeer to sing about you, or possibly a poet to praise you. Today, you can pay someone to name a building after you. However, good word of mouth is usually the result of careful reputation management and all the elements that go into building that reputation. So, pay attention to the relationships you develop with clients, prospective clients, suppliers, media personnel, front of house and stage staff, technicians, taxi drivers, agents, audiences, etc. and, of course, your fellow performers— you never know who’s going to recommend you for a show in the future.
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