By Marsha Friedman, CEO of EMSI Public Relations and author of “Celebritize Yourself”
We recently lost a legend, boxing coach and trainer Angelo Dundee, the cornerman for world heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali.
I’m a huge fan of world championship boxing – and boxing doesn’t get huger than Ali!
He was one of the great athletes who relied on “Angie” to advise him in the ring. Neither Ali nor Sugar Ray Leonard, both powerful and gifted, were crazy enough to think they could win all by themselves.
And yet, look at how many of us make that very mistake!
I published “Celebritize Yourself” in the spring of 2009. At the time, I’d been in public relations for nearly 19 years. My book was a how-to, based on my experience, for building yourself as an expert in your field – an expert celebrity, if you will. Part of the method in my book is how to get lots of media exposure and how to be a great guest. Hello!? Of course I didn’t need anyone’s help with media for “Celebritize Yourself“! And even if I thought I did, how foolish would that look – the PR expert getting help with her PR?
But the reality is, we all need a coach. Ali and Leonard needed Coach Dundee. Giants quarterback Eli Manning needed Coach Tom Coughlin on Super Bowl Sunday. Tiger Woods has a swing coach and he had a life coach, his dad Earl Woods. Judging from the way things turned out after the elder Woods passed away, Tiger still needed a life coach.
When I set out to develop my media message for “Celebritize Yourself“, I found it a much bigger challenge than I’d expected. What comes completely naturally for me in helping clients was not at all natural when it came to my own book. Spending months immersed in writing will do that to a person. I became so involved in writing, I had a hard time stepping back and objectively assessing the options.
So I called my good friend Lee Habeeb, a media coach to many of the stars of talk radio: Michael Medved, Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, Hugh Hewitt and Bill Bennett.
Lee readily came to my rescue – and assured me that getting some coaching for my own book promotion was not only quite all right, it was essential. We spent many hours discussing critical messages he saw in “Celebritize Yourself” that I never would have spotted on my own – being too blinded by the trees to have any view of the forest. We worked on sound-bite answers and alternate ways to get my message out. He shared experiences from his days as executive producer of The Laura Ingraham Show, when guests would be cut short because of how boring they were or their infomercial approach. All good lessons from a pro.
So often I’ve heard writers and entrepreneurs, some of whom have spent years on their projects, say they plan to “handle the marketing” alone after they’ve finally finished. That’s like entering a crowded playing field wearing blinders. When you’re so close to what you’ve created, when you’ve been living with it in your head for so long, it’s difficult to see the full spectrum of marketing angles and possibilities.
Your novel about brothers fighting against each other in the Civil War could also make you the perfect person to talk about patriotism, family, fraternal bondsand the importance of standing up for personal convictions.
Your supplement for joint pain could be a springboard for a Valentine’s Day talk radio discussion of enjoying romance despite chronic pain; it could become an article with tips for exercises to supplement the supplement; it could even turn into a story about active grandparenting.
After you’ve poured heart and soul into a book, product or business, at the very least, get some coaching from friends who know your project, or fellow writers and entrepreneurs who have had their own successes. Best of all would be finding people with experience in the media. Brainstorm the possibilities for publicizing your effort and you’ll soon see the potential for angles and messages that are far greater than you might have imagined alone.
If you’ve set high goals and you’re serious about the results, consider hiring a professional. It worked for Muhammad Ali!
Marsha Friedman is a 21-year veteran of the public relations industry and a sought after national public speaker on the power of publicity. She is the founder and CEO of EMSI Public Relations, a national firm that provides PR strategy, promotion and publicity services to corporations, entertainers, authors and professional firms. Marsha is also the author of the book, “Celebritize Yourself“. When she is not running her business, she has Cherish the Children, a non-profit foundation that helps under-privileged local foster children.