Tuesday, June 12, 2012

3 Things I Learned While Shouting “It’s Awesome and Dirty but Not Like You Think!”

Just me and the tweens.  Per usual.

Guest Post by Elizabeth Derby

Greetings, DeeDee-holics! Elizabeth Derby here. As the Charlottesville publicist for DeeDee’s fabulous show Dirty Barbie, I'd like to reflect on some things I’ve learned from our recent PR efforts.

That's right, children: LESSON TIME! Gather ‘round my rocker, and I’ll spin you a yarn…

Lesson 1: Title isn’t everything.

I’m a blogger and communications consultant, a marketer by trade. I never pegged myself as a publicist, but I jumped at the chance to promote DeeDee’s show. Actually, I think I literally jumped--we'd just left a spin class that reduced my body to a shaky nerve net. I was excited, so excited--I truly love this show--but my enthusiasm lasted as far as the parking lot. I began to panic when I considered my lack of formal publicist training. I never lived in LA! I didn’t own a teacup poodle! I can’t even wear uber-large sunglasses because of my terrible vision!

To calm myself, I did some research. According to Wikipedia, "PR is the practice of managing the flow of information between an individual or an organization and the public."

In other words, PR is MarCom. In different language. With some publicity stunts thrown in.


Lesson 2: Win-win promotions are not unicorns. They do, in fact, exist.

I love to schmooze, but I hate to coerce. Turns out PR hits the sweet spot for me. When I sent press releases to local papers and radio stations, several editors were able to use them. One even thanked me for a follow-up email.

I also feel good about our publicity stunts. In Where’s Dirty Barbie?, our blonde bombshell makes the rounds to local shops and restaurants. Every day at 10:30AM, Facebook and Twitter fans have the chance to win a ticket to the show if they can guess where she is. Through mysterious pictures and cryptic clues, local retailers get free press, and everybody wins.

Lesson 3: We’re a long way from the fragrance counter.

Have you ever sprinted through a department store just to avoid the fragrance counter? It’s a scary place: tubes of lipstick like golden bullets, freakishly flattering spotlights, commissions-based sales people armed with EDTs. I had that job once—just for a few weeks—and I spent my hours crouched behind gift sets, hoping my absence would trick guests into buying. 

When DeeDee and I decided to hand out promo postcards across the Downtown Mall, I knew I wouldn’t escape so easily. We planned our attack for Fridays After Five, C’ville’s summer tradition of free music and open-air dining. As Friday night approached, I changed into heels and a tiny skirt to bolster my self-confidence. Then we planted ourselves outside the stage and got to work.

Get this: it was great.

I won’t pretend I felt wholly confident or snagged every passerby who crossed me. I angled for couples and single women, and I sweat through my dress at least twice. But for the most part our pitch caught people’s attention, and I truly believe we converted new sales. After an hour and at least 80 strangers, D and I exchanged high fives, resplendent in “costumes” and new-found knowledge that real live people heard what we stood for—and liked it.

To donate to the "Dirty Barbie Wish List", please click here.
To find out more about upcoming shows, please click here.