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Jewish World Review
August 7, 2008
/ 6 Menachem-Av 5768
My newfound sense of self (promotion)
It's no secret that in today's down housing market, homeowners face a real struggle finding qualified buyers. This explains why so many "House For Sale" yard signs are frequently being replaced by signs reading "House For Sale Price Reduced," "House For Sale Price Reduced Even More" and, eventually, "Will Trade House For Food."
Faced with such tough selling prospects, it's no surprise that homeowners are increasingly turning to so-called "creative" approaches to unloading their homes, such as conducting a lottery in which the lucky holder of a $100 ticket can win the house, offering "buying incentives" like a year of lawn care, or torching the house to the ground for the insurance money.
Here in the newspaper business, we're not faring much better, with subscription rates nationwide dropping faster than elderly lawyers at the annual Dick Cheney Invitational turkey shoot. According to recent surveys, consumers today rate television, the Internet and radio as their three top sources of information, with newspapers falling to a distant 12th, barely beating out "Reading goat entrails" and "The voices in my head."
Clearly, if those of us who make our living in the newspaper business hope to survive in this environment, we're going to have to generate our own new ideas instead of relying on tired old jokes about our trigger-happy vice president. As my editor likes to remind me, "No feature in the paper is irreplaceable. Except for the Sudoku, of course."
Having given the matter a great deal of thought during a TV commercial break, I've come up with the following "creative" promotion ideas that will no doubt draw a great deal of attention to my column, if only from the authorities:
1. A shill in the air
Subtle product placement has become commonplace on TV and in film, but has yet to be explored in the newspaper column format. Unfortunately, in the journalism business we hold ourselves to a higher ethical standard than television or the movies, a topic I was discussing recently with my editor over a delicious but surprisingly affordable meal at a local Subway Restaurant, washed down with a refreshing Dr. Pepper. Subway: Eat Fresh!
2. Let's get real
Nowadays there is no activity or profession too mundane that some network won't build a reality TV show around it. Surf the dial long enough and you'll stumble upon reality shows dedicated to competitive dog grooming, life as a Macy's Department Store employee and even a show where contestants compete for the privilege of working for get this Donald Trump (Really! That's what the winner gets! What does the loser get - syphilis?). It's only a matter of time before we see the first meta-reality TV show in which contestants compete to come up with the best new concept for a reality TV show.
So the time is obviously ripe for a reality show about the day-to-day life of a professional humor columnist. Audiences will no doubt thrill to watch my amazing real-life adventures chronicled in episodes like "Malcolm's neighbor Phil begs to be written about in Malcolm's column," "Malcolm finally agrees to write a column about his neighbor Phil" and "Malcolm's neighbor Phil sues Malcolm for libel."
3. Feud for thought
Whether it's rappers trading rhymes and gunfire over which coast is more liveable, teenage starlets competing to see who can make a more embarrassing spectacle of herself or Tom Cruise taking on Brooke Shields and the powerful post-partum depression lobby, a high profile feud is always a good publicity generator. Could a feud between two humorists capture the public's attention in a similar manner? I can't say for sure. But what I can say is that Andy Rooney is a crusty old windbag with a festering overgrowth of eyebrow hairs that, without significant pruning, may soon threaten even his hangdog jowls as the curmudgeonly commentator's most prominent facial feature. Your thoughts, Andy?
These ideas are, of course, just the beginning. I'm already formulating dozens more, including hiring a guy to follow me around and wave and point at me with one of those signs with an arrow on it, giving birth to septuplets and this was my editor's idea converting my column into one big Sudoku.
JWR contributor Malcolm Fleschner is a humor columnist for The DC Examiner. Let him know what you think by clicking here.
06/24/08: Getting the brand back together
05/29/08: Phrased and confused
05/13/08: Take this job and love it
04/17/08: News you can (re)use
04/02/08: Commercial (over)load
02/20/08: An overdose of reality
02/14/08: A developing situation
01/30/08: I can tech it or leave it
01/02/08: Confessions of a coke addict
01/02/08: Our bills are due
12/13/07: Going (to lunch) once, going twice…
11/28/07: Out with the old
11/06/07: My latest pet project
11/06/07: Can't tune it out
10/23/07: Something special in the hair
09/12/07: Can I have your attention, please?
09/12/07: Houston, we have an image problem
08/21/07: In the heat of fashion
08/09/07: Let's get in the game
06/13/07: You gonna eat that?
05/08/07: That's disinter-tainment
05/02/07:You Are (not) Getting Sleepy...
04/18/07: No time like Father Time
03/15/07: Deface the Nation
03/08/07: More gifts? You shouldn't have
02/22/07: Relationships can be such a chore
12/05/06: Who's calling the shots?
11/09/06: I'm taking selling to a whole new level
10/27/06: Some skills are beyond repair
10/18/06: You can't tech it with you
10/04/06: Award to the wise
08/24/06: Phrased and Confused
08/09/06: We're Gonna Party Like it's $19.99
07/19/06: Just Singing in the Brain
05/24/06: Who says you can't go home again?
05/11/06: When nightly news stories go off script
04/26/06: Cents and sensibility: A thought for your pennies
03/16/06: The day the Muzak died
02/23/06: Checkbook diplomacy begins at home
02/15/06: Today's toys: Where learning means earning
© 2006, Malcolm Fleschner
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