Provocation: Conceptual Campaigns


When preparing for a show or anything you may need press on, you give a lot of thought to your press release. How are you going to get the attention of these media outlets to even look at what you send? I can send somewhere around 100 emails to press contacts and get no response. It’s just the nature of the business.

Last night I was picking up on some patterns of the world and I did some research into patterns and what they mean for your life. And one website noted that if a person takes an action with a given intention, they will get a result. And typically taking actions with similar intentions will yield similar results.

I am aware this is just someone’s theory of the world, with no given scientific evidence to back it up. But, it resonated with me and it got me thinking. I’ve been pitching my Kickstarter video around town with very little response, which is not surprising because it’s a Kickstarter video (many blogs won’t post about fundraising efforts). But, it got me to thinking about patterns. I worked as an external relations manager and coordinator of a popular Philadelphia website for some time and I can put together a press release. But, when the action is: Create professional press release to represent show, nothing every happens. But, when the action has been: discuss what said blog posts about and what it doesn’t, it’s yielded different results. One, my email has actually been read. Two, my email is responded to. Three, it often has resulted in coverage.

So, I decided to experiment. I created a conceptual marketing campaign in the vein of my kickstarter video. I sent a series of emails to blogs with slightly provocative subjects and text that centered around the idea and world of my Kickstarter video; that I’m an terrorist. Now, I knew this could potentially rub some people the wrong way, but then again these are the same people who never respond to anything I send anyway, and out of desperation to get people to, at the very least, read my emails I sent an email like this.
Subject: Too black and too queer for (blog)
Text: I’m guessing this probably too black and queer for Philebrity to consider posting about, but here it is anyway.

Followed by information about my Kickstarter. Now, the blog I sent this to has never, in 3 years responded to any email I have ever sent them. Ever. But, as you can imagine, out of anger that someone might think they’re decisions are in any way influenced by race or sexual orientation, they not only read and looked at the material, but they responded.

I can’t tell you how off-putting this pitch is. If you read the site at all, you’d know that it’s not a matter of “too black or too queer” (that is SO presumptuous), it’s that we don’t write up people’s Kickstarters unless they are community-benefiting projects.

Good luck anyway.

Wow, they actually responded to me and while I don’t want to troll the internet making people upset to get their attention, they looked, they saw. They never usually do. Ever. I tried to immediately explain to them that this was just part of my “terrorist campaign”. A risky thing to do, but a risk I was willing to take as dangerous as that can be, given someone implying or hinting or even circling the idea of someone being racist, is by far the quickest way to make them upset.

My Response:
It was meant to be off putting. It’s sort of part of the entire terrorist campaign the project is representing, as opposed to me thinking that’s how you actually operate. The intention was to get your attention, and apparently it did.

Pro tip: Don’t do that.
(link to tweet that reads: Let me paraphrase this email pitch I just read: “You’re a racist & homophobe if you don’t write up the Kickstarter for my one-man musical.”)

My Response:
Thank you for your tip, I never said you were homophobic or racist and while I understand it’s easy to reduce it to that, it’s not accurate.
I made an effort to get your attention and explained it as such upon contact. Again, it was an attempt to remain in the world of the video.
I think you understand that, you just don’t like it, which I understand.

I understand why this could be initially off putting and I took that risk, when you are trying to get people to pay attention to your work, your risk taking willingness increases. Plus, I knew doing the same thing over and over was going to yield the same results. It’s strange, I’ve sent so many professional great emails about my original work and never gotten a pro-tip or anything from this blog. But, I create a provocative, FICTIONAL campaign, and even knowing it’s not real, they read respond and have tips.

Someone once told me, everyone will always tell you what you should be doing or how you should do everything, but you have to figure it out for yourself and while my intention isn’t to make the world upset, I am willing to try different tactics, otherwise everyone will continue to ignore everything I do, regardless of how good or bad it is.

I’m also still amazed at how upset someone can get about something when it’s explained to them that it’s living in the context of a fictional world. Sort of like how Sacha Baren Cohen promotes every film, but it’s only worth something when you’re famous. I keep trying.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Albert Einstein



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