Monday, July 21, 2008

Harry Houdini On Promoting Your Blog

...and I can already see a few of you in the back taking bets on whether I can use the career of the greatest magician who ever lived as a lesson to bloggers. Sucker bet, my friend, sucker bet. Of course I would not bring up an example that I hadn't already considered carefully [especially one dressed only in swim trunks and manacles].

(For the uninformed: Harry Houdini is believed by most experts to be the greatest magician of the 20th Century, and very likely the greatest of all time. Among other feats, Houdini
-made a live elephant disappear on stage,
-regularly accepted challenges to escape from specially-built
packing crates, handcuffs, and other restraints,
-popularized escaping from straitjackets - in full view of the

-escaped from many jail cells around the world while wearing only
swim trunks, and after being thoroughly searched
[I'll tell
you why he did this momentarily].
The experts will tell you that there are magicians working today who can duplicate many, if not all, of Houdini's illusions. What made his performances memorable, however, cannot be duplicated: the skill with which he manipulated the audience into believing that he was doing exactly what he told them he was doing.)

All right, you know the whom of this presentation. Now here's the why.
In addition to his unarguable magic skills, Houdini worked hard on his promotions as well. Harry would frequently announce his presence in a city by escaping from the local jail, or freeing himself from a straitjacket while dangling from a 15- or 16-story building at the busiest intersection in town. He gave newspaper interviews on magic. He was one of the first performers to see the potential of doing radio appearances. Houdini frequently said that his stunts and [usually] unpaid radio and newspaper appearance got him more newspaper space, and thus more free advertising, than anyone else of his era.

O.K., I hear some of you saying; I can't escape from handcuffs, or from a glass box filled with water [two more Houdini feats]; how can I get free publicity like that? Well, if you blog at least semi-regularly, you probably have some skill you're reasonably knowledgeable about. Why not write an article for your local newspaper [or weekly tabloid] on what you know about? [Those weekly papers are usually more than happy to have someone provide some copy for free. And some of those papers even pay a token amount!] If you do, make sure you include your blog's web address somewhere in the piece. Call up your local radio station, and offer to talk about your interest for free. If your community's cable-tv system has a public-access channel, it's likely that one or more shows on the station are on the lookout for possible interview subjects. Sometimes you have to overcome shyness to get on those programs, but it's all just one more opportunity to get your message out. And, in that immortal lyric from The Hokey Pokey,
"That's what it's all about".

-Mike Riley

1 comment:

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