“The New Rules of Marketing and PR” Quotes

I recently read “The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How To Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases & Viral Marketing To Reach Buyers Directly (3rd Edition)” by David Meerman Scott. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. As always, if you like the quotes, please buy the book here.

New Rules Cover“I’m absolutely convinced you will learn more by emulating successful ideas from outside your industry than by copying what your nearest competitor is doing.” (xxxii)

“When people come to you online, they are not looking for TV commercials. They are looking for information to help them make a decision.” (4)

“Companies must tell their stories and spread their ideas online, at the precise moment that potential buyers are searching for answers.” (27)

“It is amazing that so many marketers don’t have established goals for their marketing programs and for websites and blogs in particular. And they often cannot articulate who their buyers are and what problems they solve for them.” (33)

“An effective web marketing and PR strategy delivers compelling content to buyers and gets them to take action.” (33)

“The Rules: Nobody cares about your product (except you)… No coercion required… Lose control… Put down roots… Create triggers that encourage people to share… Point the world to your (virtual) doorstep…” (100)

“Devoting attention to buyers and away from products is difficult for many people, but it always pays off in the form of bringing you closer to achieving your goals.” (137)

“For each buyer persona, we want to know as much as we can about this group of people. What are their goals and aspirations? What are their problems? What media do they rely on for answers to problems? How can we reach them? We want to know, in detail, the things that are important for each buyer persona. What words and phrases do the buyers use? What sorts of images and multimedia appeal to each? Are short and snappy sentences better than long, verbose ones?” (141)

“The typical website is one size fits all, with the content organized by the company’s products or services, not by categories corresponding to buyer personas and their associated problems.” (145)

“Figuring out the phrases for your market requires that you buckle down and do some research. Although interviewing buyers about their market problems and listening to the words and phrases they use is best, you can also learn a great deal by reading the publications they read.” (148)

“Don’t forget that different buyer personas buy different things from your organization.” (149)

“You’re writing for your buyers, not your own ego.” (151)

“When you stop talking about you and your products and services and instead use the web to educate and inform important types of buyers, you will be more successful.” (153)

“Remember that people don’t care about products and services; instead, they care about themselves and about solving their problems.” (166)

“The winner for the most overused word or phrase in 2008 was innovate which was used in 51,390 press releases, followed closely by unique, leading providers, new and improved, world class, and cost effective.” (181)

“Here’s a test: Take the language that the marketers at your company dreamed up and substitute the name of a competitor and the competitor’s product for your own. Does it still make sense to you? Marketing language that can be substituted for another company’s isn’t effective in explaining to a buyer why your company is the right choice.” (182)

“Talk to your audience as your might talk to a relative you don’t see too often – be friendly and familiar but also respectful.” (183)

“A digital community is awesome if you use it correctly. You don’t own it; you participate in it. You can’t buy it; you have to work at it. Be a good person, treat the world like you’d treat your family, and they’ll do the same.” (200)

“The easier you make a journalist’s job, the more likely she is to write about your organization, particularly when she is on a tight deadline.” (278)

“How to Pitch the Media: Target one reporter at a time… Help the journalist to understand the big picture… Explain how customers use your product or work with your organization… Don’t send email attachments unless asked… Follow up promptly with potential contacts… Don’t forget, it’s a two-way street – journalists need you to pitch them!” (293)

“Howe prefers to be pitched by email, with a subject line that helps him know it’s not spam. “ ‘PR pitch for Boston Globe Reporter Peter Howe’ is actually a very effective way to get my attention…If you simply put ‘Boston Globe Peter Howe’ into a google.com/news search and read the first 10 things that pop up, you would have done more work than 98 percent of the PR people who pitch me,” he says. “It’s maddening how many people in PR have absolutely no sense of the difference between what the Boston Globe covers and what, say, Network World or RCR Wireless News or the Nitwitville Weekly news covers. And I don’t mean to sound like a whining diva; the bigger issue is if you’re not figuring out what I cover and how before you pitch me, you are really wasting your own time.” (294-5)

“Search engine marketing is remarkable because, unlike almost every other form of marketing, it does not rely on the interruption technique.” (297)

“Search engine marketing programs often fail because the marketers optimize on general keywords and phrases that do not produce sufficiently targeted results.” (301)

“The best approach is to create separate search engine marketing programs for dozens, hundreds, or even tens of thousands of specific search terms that people might actually search on.” (302)

“Because the home page needs to serve many audiences, there can never be enough information there for each search term.” (304)

Liked the quotes? Buy the book here.

TV Without Advertising

Based on Dish Network adding a commercial auto-skip feature (and the subsequent complaints) and my previous speculations, I thought it’d be interesting to discuss what TV might look like if (when) advertisers stop advertising for everything but live events like sports and news.

Here’s what’s true:

  • There’s more TV shows than ever
  • There’s more good TV shows than ever (and still plenty of bad ones)
  • Because of the segmented market (a.k.a. more and more cable networks), a show can have a lower rating and still stay on the air
  • A TV show can get (more) popular five years after it goes off the air due to DVD sales and the internet (The Wire,  Arrested Development, etc.)
  • If it’s easy and reliable, consumers will pay some amount of money per month ($10 for Netflix/Hulu Plus to $100+ for a cable/satellite provider ) to watch TV shows on their TV and or other devices
  • People don’t want to watch TV commercials (or at least wouldn’t complain if they disappeared)
  • The TV Network financial model is all about selling commercials
  • For live broadcasts, TV quality is still significantly better and more reliable than the internet

Imagine all advertising stops for non-live shows (everything but the news and sports). How else might TV shows make money?

Here’s my idea: Have each user pay $X a month for unlimited video, then pay each show a percentage, based on how much of it the user watches.

A cable box-like device would measure how many M minutes you watch of each show and add up how much TV you watch each month.

That show’s income could = M (minutes of show watched) / T (Total Minutes of TV this month) * $X (the monthly service fee)

In other words, each show gets the % of your monthly viewing fee which you spent watching that show.

Example: The service costs $40 per month, I watch 5 episodes of The Office with each episode being 20 minutes long, and I watch 800 total minutes of TV in the month. The creators of The Office would receive (20 * 5) / 800 * 40 (1/8 of 40) which is $5. With 9 million viewers, these numbers add up quickly. Of course, the company (most likely cable, satelite or dot com) that creates and adminsters such a system would charge an administrative fee (I’d imagine it around 10% – 20%).

Some Consequences / Impacts:

  • The more popular your show, the more money it makes.
  • It’d be more profitable to get users who barely watch TV to watch your show.
  • Built in residual income — if your show gets popular five years after it comes off the air, you still get paid the same amount and can turn a profit. This is basically The Long Tail effect.
  • Contracts structure might be changed so that more actors / directors / writers are paid a percentage of the total income, instead of a one time fee. This better aligns everyone’s incentives for a successful, long running, well written series.
  • Instead of pitching an idea to a TV Network or production company, you could pitch it directly to a venture capitalist (Sillicon Valley Style) or Satellite/Cable/Amazon/Netflix type company. This may lead to more buyers and consequently more shows.
  • This same cable-like box could also incorporate an Amazon / NetFlix like recommendation system for TV. Users can rate and review shows, and receive recommendations on what shows they may like based on how they’ve rated shows to date.
  • This could turn into a Pandora type stream, where everyone has their own customized channel(s) with the shows they like to watch. Would networks still be necessary?
  • Everything but news and sports can become on demand, and there’s no waiting week to week for the next episode of the season.

Hi-Tech Comedy: Tim Lee

Today I’m honored to be interviewing Tim Lee. Tim wasn’t supposed to be a comedian. A biologist by training, he graduated magna cum laude from UC San Diego with honors in biology. He went on to complete his PhD at UC Davis. He spent years developing simulation and analytical models of population dynamics before he discovered that this bored him to tears. When he tried comedy for the first time the tears stopped.Tim Lee

1.How are you using the internet / social media to promote your personal career?

I use it primarily as a place for people to watch my videos. YouTube has been huge for me. It’s allowed a broad audience to watch me perform. Before YouTube I relied strictly on live shows. I also get a lot of private bookings from people who watch my videos on line: Johnson and Johnson, Microsoft and Genentech all watched my videos before booking me for private events.

One important benefit of the internet is it has allowed me to stay in touch with  fans. They write to me and I write back. The people you correspond with become your most devoted fans.

2.Have you noticed the payoff yet?

Yes, the attendance at the shows has gone way up because people can see what the show will be like on line. It used to be people relied on your credits to determine if your show was worth watching. Now, they can watch a snippet on YouTube.

3.Your act involves technology: a projector, a screen, PowerPoint slides and a remote control. Has this kept you out of some standard comedy club venues or do you just bring your own equipment?

It’s amazing to me that most sports bars have a better AV setup than a comedy club. However, I work in all kinds of venues that don’t have a projector and screen.  I just bring my own projector and screen. It’s a pretty simple solution.You’d be surprised how many venue operators freak out over this issue. It’s like some kind of voodoo to them.  I have to calm them down and assure them that modern technology is not inherently evil. Ticketmaster.com just makes it seem that way. (Thank you for those online convenience fees!)

4.Was it more difficult starting out because you had to setup equipment at open mics, or did you build an online following before doing a live show?

I did my first PowerPoint jokes while I was giving talks in grad school. I had seen many professors put gag slides into their talks. I decided to do the same. When I started at the comedy open mics I did straight stand up for a over a year before I brought the PowerPoint back into it. That happened when I found a sports bar with an open mic. They had a better AV setup than any of the clubs. I tried the PowerPoint science jokes there and the audience loved it. I figured if it went over well at a sports bar it would probably go over well other places.

Once I felt I was onto something, I developed most of the act at a hole in the wall in the Tenderloin in San Francisco. We were right in the middle of crack central. There was (and still is) all kinds of drugs and prostitution going on right outside the door. The only people who would come to the show were the tourists who didn’t know what a crappy neighborhood the show was in. I got a lot of positive feedback from them despite the less than ideal setting. At that point I knew that a broad range of people from around the world liked the comedy despite the cerebral focus on science. I didn’t get the chance to do the show at a nice place for several years. It was mostly  the crappy rooms that welcomed me. I couldn’t open for anyone else and use the PowerPoint. No one would allow it.

Finally, I decided to produce my own show. At first I did it at small theaters then eventually I got the Punch Line in San Francisco to let me do my show there. It was a Monday night which is a notoriously difficult night. Despite the bad timing the show sold out and we had to turn people away. At that point I decided to shift my focus to producing my own shows in theaters around the country.

I have to say I get a big kick out of it when people tell me my show wouldn’t work someplace because the venue is too crappy. If they only knew…

5.Did you ever try performing comedy without the PowerPoint? How was it?

I still perform without the PowerPoint regularly. I enjoy it. I’ve been training in martial arts for many years. It’s been drilled into my head that you must be good at wrestling, muay thai, and jiu-jitsu if you want to compete on a national level. For me the same holds with my comedy, I need to be good with PowerPoint, stand up, sketch comedy, and acting if I want to compete at a national level. Of course the PowerPoint is the strongest part but I constantly work on the other parts as well.

6.Besides yourself, I’ve seen Demitri Martin and The Stand Up Economist do their act with video screens playing a big role, do you think this is a trend?

It’s a medium that can be used to get a lot of information across quickly. However it’s most common use is to stretch 3 minutes of useful information into an hour long torture session. Demitri and Yoram are demonstrating how visuals can be used for good. Will that spread into a trend? No idea.

7.How do you think digital tools will change comedy in the future?
Anyone can make professional looking comedy videos now on the cheap. That’s a big plus for the small time comic. The challenge is getting people to watch them.

8.What do you think about posting videos of your performances online?
Great idea. How else are people around the world going to see you perform? I get people writing me from the Middle East, Indonesian, Australia and Europe because they’ve seen me on YouTube.  Do people steal your jokes? Absolutely they do, but people steal your jokes from live performances as well. If you are worried about people stealing your jokes I recommend Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.

9.How much information do you tend to share on the social networks?

I share what I think is interesting… sometimes I’m wrong.

10.What’s your weirdest online experience involving your comedy career?

The head of the Church of Satan wrote me to compliment me on my act.

11.Any last thoughts?
Is that a threat?

Hi-Tech Comedy: Ali Farahnakian

Today I’m honored to be interviewing Ali Farahnakian. Ali is the founder and owner of [LINK www.thepit-nyc.com] The Peoples Improv Theater (aka The PIT) and [link www.SimpleStudiosNYC.com] Simple Studios. In addition to running a theatre and school Ali is a teacher/actor/writer/comedian. He was a founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade, a writer on Saturday Night Live and has appeared on all the Law and Order’s, All My Children, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and 30 Rock.
1. How are you using the internet / social media to promote your personal career?
Honestly, I’m not using it as much as I should. I don’t have a website, I probably should. I don’t do the twitter, I probably should. I wish I had someone who was my tech person. I think folks at a higher level probably have people. And some folks coming up now, grew up with technology, understand it.
I recently started on Facebook because a friend from high school sent me photos of his kids and I had to join Facebook to see them. I didn’t realize I’d get inundated with friend requests. However, since I’ve joined good things have happened. I’ve connected with people. I think I should be more earnest about using it because it’s a great tool. When I first started doing comedy, you called people. That’s how you told people about your show. You put up posters. When I did “Word of Mouth” in 2000, the whole show was no posters, no programs, it was all through me calling or emailing people and word of mouth. I still think that’s one of the best ways: call people or email them personally. People are so inundated with requests, you can just check them and go through them and click, click, click and they become white noise. You need to find a way to make it personal.
I heard a story once about how when the internet first came out, Steve Jobs was asked how to explain the internet to people, and he said, “When humans are placed against other animals in their ability to traverse large expanses, humans come in 31st and the condor comes in 1st. But when you put a human on a bicycle, they are 3 times as fast as the condor. That’s the internet, a bicycle for the mind.” The internet lets you get on your bike and go, “Hey would you like to come to my show?” It lets you get in touch with a lot more people than you’d normally be able to get in touch with.
However, if you really want to get people to come see something, I still don’t think there’s anything like the human touch.
2. Have you noticed the payoff yet?
There’s this website called “Linked In”. Someone said, “Do you want to join?” I said yes, because I try to say yes to things. A friend of mine from DC who I took my first writing class in 1990 reconnected with me on it, then he said, “Hey they want someone to teach writing and improv at the DC Improv.” And he connected me to the DC Improv because of Linked In, and I’ve been going there twice a year to teach writing  and Improv workshops. Social media has helped me go to different cities and teach, which I really enjoy doing. When I did a show, “Extemporaneous Ali,” it was all through email and Facebook. I did 3 shows and they all sold out.
Nowadays, I’m mostly running Simple Studios and The PIT. I do a show every Wednesday night at 10pm with “The Faculty” of The PIT that always sells out. So for me there’s nothing to be gained to send out a show invite. And I’ve been doing comedy for twenty years, anyone who wants to see me has seen me. There’s not as much of that “eye of the tiger” that there once was.  At this point I do it for the love, I enjoy teaching, performing and cultivating small businesses.
3. Speaking of The PIT, how are you using the internet and social media to promote your theatre?
Social media is being used in both businesses, I’m just not the one overseeing it. We have a webmaster, someone doing twitter, Facebook and Google Ad Words. Whatever is out there, we do all that. It definitely benefits us. At the end of the day, what has gotten The PIT and Simple Studios to where they are is word of mouth. It’s about maintaining quality control of our product, which is our classes and shows. So when people come and they have sacrificed blood and treasure to take your classes or to use your space, you want to make sure they’re getting the best experience possible.
Twitter helps for Simple Studios, because if we have a room available in the evening, we twitter it and it sells out. Or for example, Fridays were a day we weren’t getting the same amount of traffic, so we changed our Friday deal to “Freaky Fridays” and made all the rooms bookable at walk in rates and all the rooms sold out. I don’t know how else you could do that without taking an ad out in the newspaper. Having a website, Twitter, email lists and Facebook allows all of that.
Without the internet I don’t know how you’d promote the theatre. In Chicago, they did it with phone calls and leaving messages on answering machines. People talked to each other more, you actually read posters.
4. Do you think the PIT would be as successful as it is without the internet?
It would depend on what city it’s in. if it was New York, I don’t think it’d be as successful as quickly. Things happen a lot faster with the internet. If you have something that’s good and you put in time and energy and believe what you’re doing, it just gets to people faster. It catches like wildfire. People can go on the internet, see your website, find out about shows and classes.
However, at the end of the day, people still call before they sign up. With Simple Studios you still can’t book via the internet because we want to maintain a human touch. Someone may want it every Wednesday from 7 to 10, but this Wednesday they need it 7 to 9. At this stage, it’s easier for us to make sure there’s a human touch with booking the space.
5. How do you think digital tools will change comedy?
The internet is making the world more flat. It allows people in the middle of nowhere with nothing to create videos and movies that would normally require an editing system and cameras. It will allow those people to create content like anyone else. It will level the playing field. In comedy, there’s live versions and internet/movie/television versions. In stand up, you’ll always be getting up with some kind of mic. You’re still gonna be one person talking to people. In improv, you’ll still be one group of people talking to people. Digital tools are making it easier for people to make content, I personally don’t have a TV at home. I watch all my TV on my laptop. That would’ve been unheard of five years ago. Do I watch less? I don’t know. I don’t watch shows with the regularity I’d watch when I had a TV, but now I know I can just go there and watch it when I want.
6. What do you think about posting videos of your performances online?
I think whatever benefits the performer. Why not? An artist is really doing what they do for an audience of seven or eight, and everything else is cake. Whoever else benefits great. It doesn’t matter what level it is. For me it’s hard for me to watch a lot of stuff on the internet. I don’t have that kind of time to be looking at videos. But why not? Like I say about my writing classes, it gives you a reason to write and place to bring your writing to have it looked at by someone who’s been there. If posting your videos helps you go out there and do shows and create a record of it for yourself, then great. Everybody’s technique and craft is different, so whatever works for you.
7. You used to do a show called “Virtual Reality” that used interactive multimedia to put the audience in different scenes. More and more comedians are using projectors and visuals as part of their act. Do you think this is a trend that will really take off, or remain the domain of a few specific comedians? (Dmitri Martin, “The PowerPoint Comedian” and “The Stand Up Economist” to name a few.”
You can’t do something that’s not you. I don’t think it will become a trend. You can’t become a guitar comic if you don’t play the guitar. In 1972 there were 50 great stand ups in the country. In 1992 there were 50,000 stands up in the country, but still only 50 great stand ups. There’s only gonna be the same number of people at that level, but there will be more people trying. I really believe if you want to teach and perform you can do it. You may not be able to do it in New York, you might need to go to a smaller town. But if you really want to, you can, you just have to find the right market or level that accommodates your level of talent and work ethic.
8. How much information do you tend to share on the social networks?
I’m at the base minimum. I put a picture of me up there, a date of birth, I don’t share much. If I had someone who was my technology consultant, I’d do it. I focus on The PIT, The Studios and life. I think for those who can and know how to do it it’s a great tool.
9. How closely do you monitor what people say about The PIT on YELP, Twitter, etc? How important do you think that stuff is?
I don’t monitor it at all. I’m not one for personally going to message boards or chat rooms. I have built this living in the world of bricks and mortar. I believe you do good shows, good classes, treat people with respect and dignity and create a nice community. I’ve come from different communities, tennis, second city, fraternities. To me, not having come up in a world of computers, I’m more accustomed to being out there and playing. So there’s only so much I can do with looking at the online stuff. I know there are message boards, time is limited for me. If I’m doing something theatre or rehearsal space related I’d rather be teaching, performing or dealing with the details of running a small business.
10. Any last thoughts?
I’m just amazed you’ve been typing this up on a laptop this whole time. That’s amazing. Knowledge is power and tools are power and using those tools can benefit any business. To some degree, with people looking to have a comedy career, or a life in the world of comedy, they are their own individual businesses. It’s a matter of, “How do I get the word out about my business?” At the end of the day, the American public (and further) decides if they want to buy your product. You can create an airline and have it fail even if you had planes and pilots. Or you can create an airline that does very well and gets profitable.
Comedy is like anything else, just because you have the tools, if the product isn’t there at the end of the day, the product will deteriorate. I think more people get shots than they used to, and are able to make things more than they were before. Which is fine if it’s artistic and making yourself sane, but if it’s making money off it, someone has to deem it worth enough that they’ll benefit from paying for it.
Currently, the only way to generate revenues in media is: advertising dollars, angel funds or ticket sales. That’s the only way to make a living doing this right now. I think moving forward, the barrier between the advertising dollars and having a middle man of either a network or a studio will change. The advertising dollars may go more directly towards the people creating the content. You have a great website, you have comedy content, a company comes to you and says “we want to give you money to put our ad on your website”. You’ve cut out the middle man. Otherwise, you go to a network, do your show for them and they get you advertisers during your half hour or hour show.
At the end of the day, The PIT is built on 3 C’s. Craft, community and career. Work on your craft your career will come. Work on your community, your career will come. But if you just work on your career, you won’t have a craft or community at the end of the day. Nobody climbs mountains alone. You need other people. It’s a real team effort.

Today I’m honored to be interviewing Ali Farahnakian. Ali is the founder and owner of The People’s Improv Theater (aka The PIT) and Simple Studios. In addition to running a theatre and school, Ali is a teacher/actor/writer/comedian. He was a founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade, a writer on Saturday Night Live and has appeared on all the Law and Order’s, All My Children, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and 30 Rock.

Aliheadshot1. How are you using the internet / social media to promote your personal career?

Honestly, I’m not using it as much as I should. I don’t have a website, I probably should. I don’t do the twitter, I probably should. I wish I had someone who was my tech person. I think folks at a higher level probably have people. And some folks coming up now, grew up with technology, understand it.

I recently started on Facebook because a friend from high school sent me photos of his kids and I had to join Facebook to see them. I didn’t realize I’d get inundated with friend requests. However, since I’ve joined good things have happened. I’ve connected with people. I think I should be more earnest about using it because it’s a great tool. When I first started doing comedy, you called people. That’s how you told people about your show. You put up posters. When I did “Word of Mouth” in 2000, the whole show was no posters, no programs, it was all through me calling or emailing people and word of mouth. I still think that’s one of the best ways: call people or email them personally. People are so inundated with requests, you can just check them and go through them and click, click, click and they become white noise. You need to find a way to make it personal.

I heard a story once about how when the internet first came out, Steve Jobs was asked how to explain the internet to people, and he said, “When humans are placed against other animals in their ability to traverse large expanses, humans come in 31st and the condor comes in 1st. But when you put a human on a bicycle, they are 3 times as fast as the condor. That’s the internet, a bicycle for the mind.” The internet lets you get on your bike and go, “Hey would you like to come to my show?” It lets you get in touch with a lot more people than you’d normally be able to get in touch with.

However, if you really want to get people to come see something, I still don’t think there’s anything like the human touch.

2. Have you noticed the payoff yet?

There’s this website called “Linked In”. Someone said, “Do you want to join?” I said yes, because I try to say yes to things. A friend of mine from DC who I took my first writing class in 1990 reconnected with me on it, then he said, “Hey they want someone to teach writing and improv at the DC Improv.” And he connected me to the DC Improv because of Linked In, and I’ve been going there twice a year to teach writing  and Improv workshops. Social media has helped me go to different cities and teach, which I really enjoy doing. When I did a show, “Extemporaneous Ali,” it was all through email and Facebook. I did 3 shows and they all sold out.

Nowadays, I’m mostly running Simple Studios and The PIT. I do a show every Wednesday night at 10pm with “The Faculty” of The PIT that always sells out. So for me there’s nothing to be gained to send out a show invite. And I’ve been doing comedy for twenty years, anyone who wants to see me has seen me. There’s not as much of that “eye of the tiger” that there once was.  At this point I do it for the love, I enjoy teaching, performing and cultivating small businesses.

3. Speaking of The PIT, how are you using the internet and social media to promote your theatre?

Social media is being used in both businesses, I’m just not the one overseeing it. We have a webmaster, someone doing twitter, Facebook and Google Ad Words. Whatever is out there, we do all that. It definitely benefits us. At the end of the day, what has gotten The PIT and Simple Studios to where they are is word of mouth. It’s about maintaining quality control of our product, which is our classes and shows. So when people come and they have sacrificed blood and treasure to take your classes or to use your space, you want to make sure they’re getting the best experience possible.

Twitter helps for Simple Studios, because if we have a room available in the evening, we twitter it and it sells out. Or for example, Fridays were a day we weren’t getting the same amount of traffic, so we changed our Friday deal to “Freaky Fridays” and made all the rooms bookable at walk in rates and all the rooms sold out. I don’t know how else you could do that without taking an ad out in the newspaper. Having a website, Twitter, email lists and Facebook allows all of that.

Without the internet I don’t know how you’d promote the theatre. In Chicago, they did it with phone calls and leaving messages on answering machines. People talked to each other more, you actually read posters.

4. Do you think the PIT would be as successful as it is without the internet?

It would depend on what city it’s in. if it was New York, I don’t think it’d be as successful as quickly. Things happen a lot faster with the internet. If you have something that’s good and you put in time and energy and believe what you’re doing, it just gets to people faster. It catches like wildfire. People can go on the internet, see your website, find out about shows and classes.

However, at the end of the day, people still call before they sign up. With Simple Studios you still can’t book via the internet because we want to maintain a human touch. Someone may want it every Wednesday from 7 to 10, but this Wednesday they need it 7 to 9. At this stage, it’s easier for us to make sure there’s a human touch with booking the space.

5. How do you think digital tools will change comedy?

The internet is making the world more flat. It allows people in the middle of nowhere with nothing to create videos and movies that would normally require an editing system and cameras. It will allow those people to create content like anyone else. It will level the playing field. In comedy, there’s live versions and internet/movie/television versions. In stand up, you’ll always be getting up with some kind of mic. You’re still gonna be one person talking to people. In improv, you’ll still be one group of people talking to people. Digital tools are making it easier for people to make content, I personally don’t have a TV at home. I watch all my TV on my laptop. That would’ve been unheard of five years ago. Do I watch less? I don’t know. I don’t watch shows with the regularity I’d watch when I had a TV, but now I know I can just go there and watch it when I want.

6. What do you think about posting videos of your performances online?

I think whatever benefits the performer. Why not? An artist is really doing what they do for an audience of seven or eight, and everything else is cake. Whoever else benefits great. It doesn’t matter what level it is. For me it’s hard for me to watch a lot of stuff on the internet. I don’t have that kind of time to be looking at videos. But why not? Like I say about my writing classes, it gives you a reason to write and place to bring your writing to have it looked at by someone who’s been there. If posting your videos helps you go out there and do shows and create a record of it for yourself, then great. Everybody’s technique and craft is different, so whatever works for you.

7. You used to do a show called “Virtual Reality” that used interactive multimedia to put the audience in different scenes. More and more comedians are using projectors and visuals as part of their act. Do you think this is a trend that will really take off?

You can’t do something that’s not you. I don’t think it will become a trend. You can’t become a guitar comic if you don’t play the guitar. In 1972 there were 50 great stand ups in the country. In 1992 there were 50,000 stands up in the country, but still only 50 great stand ups. There’s only gonna be the same number of people at that level, but there will be more people trying. I really believe if you want to teach and perform you can do it. You may not be able to do it in New York, you might need to go to a smaller town. But if you really want to, you can, you just have to find the right market or level that accommodates your level of talent and work ethic.

8. How much information do you tend to share on the social networks?

I’m at the base minimum. I put a picture of me up there, a date of birth, I don’t share much. If I had someone who was my technology consultant, I’d do it. I focus on The PIT, The Studios and life. I think for those who can and know how to do it it’s a great tool.

9. How closely do you monitor what people say about The PIT on YELP, Twitter, etc? How important do you think that stuff is?

I don’t monitor it at all. I’m not one for personally going to message boards or chat rooms. I have built this living in the world of bricks and mortar. I believe you do good shows, good classes, treat people with respect and dignity and create a nice community. I’ve come from different communities, tennis, second city, fraternities. To me, not having come up in a world of computers, I’m more accustomed to being out there and playing. So there’s only so much I can do with looking at the online stuff. I know there are message boards, time is limited for me. If I’m doing something theatre or rehearsal space related I’d rather be teaching, performing or dealing with the details of running a small business.

10. Any last thoughts?

I’m just amazed you’ve been typing this up on a laptop this whole time. That’s amazing. Knowledge is power and tools are power and using those tools can benefit any business. To some degree, with people looking to have a comedy career, or a life in the world of comedy, they are their own individual businesses. It’s a matter of, “How do I get the word out about my business?” At the end of the day, the American public (and further) decides if they want to buy your product. You can create an airline and have it fail even if you had planes and pilots. Or you can create an airline that does very well and gets profitable.

Comedy is like anything else, just because you have the tools, if the product isn’t there at the end of the day, the product will deteriorate. I think more people get shots than they used to, and are able to make things more than they were before. Which is fine if it’s artistic and making yourself sane, but if it’s making money off it, someone has to deem it worth enough that they’ll benefit from paying for it.

Currently, the only way to generate revenues in media is: advertising dollars, angel funds or ticket sales. That’s the only way to make a living doing this right now. I think moving forward, the barrier between the advertising dollars and having a middle man of either a network or a studio will change. The advertising dollars may go more directly towards the people creating the content. You have a great website, you have comedy content, a company comes to you and says “we want to give you money to put our ad on your website”. You’ve cut out the middle man. Otherwise, you go to a network, do your show for them and they get you advertisers during your half hour or hour show.

At the end of the day, The PIT is built on 3 C’s. Craft, community and career. Work on your craft your career will come. Work on your community, your career will come. But if you just work on your career, you won’t have a craft or community at the end of the day. Nobody climbs mountains alone. You need other people. It’s a real team effort.

Seth Godin’s Linchpin Talk

Last Friday I was able to attend a talk by Seth Godin about his new book, Linchpin. The book (and this post) isn’t directly related to comedy, but the talk was amazing and I feel the need to share my notes on it. I’ve added my two cents of commentary about most of the quotes, and  since I’m obsessed with comedy most of my thoughts are about how to apply Seth’s ideas to comedy.

Regardless of what you do, you should be reading Seth’s blog. And check out two of his video presentations here and here.

Some of the “quotes” below aren’t exact, but they’re the general idea of what Seth said.

“I write because I have to, not because I want to.”
My two cents: I love this statement. I’ve been reading George Carlin’s biography, and he mentions a similar process where he reads and reads about a given topic for a while, then when he can’t take it anymore he writes what he has to say.

“A genius solves a problem in a way no one has solved it before”
My two cents: Every time you write a joke, you’ve solved the problem of how to make someone laugh in a way that it hasn’t been solved before (assuming they laughed).

“Corporations are factories and no longer working. The old model was factories are more important than the people in them. This is no longer true.”
My two cents: Being unique is good. Comedy is about having your own perspective.

“First factories made interchangeable parts, then they started making interchangeable people. Modern society trained people to work in factories and trained people to buy stuff (obedience). School is a type of factory.”
My two cents: When I heard this I was really happy that someone way smarter than me was giving me further justification for dropping out of a “top school.”

“Art = changing and moving people, not just entertainment”
My two cents: My comedy is not at this level yet, but it’s where I want to take it. Right now I’m working on mastering the process of how to make an audience laugh. The next step is mastering how to change and move people through laughter.

“The first guy who puts in a urinal into a museum installation is an artist, the second is a plumber”
My two cents: Be original.

“All value accrues to people who decide what to do next.”
My two cents: The audience doesn’t decide what to say next, you do. That’s why you’re getting paid and they’re not.

”Don’t engage in any activity where the upper limit is already known. This is why there are no famous bowlers. You can’t do better than a 300.”
My two cents: I don’t think there’s an upper limit to comedic success. Although Seinfeld has set a pretty high bar.

“The means of production (computers) are now owned by the workers.”
My two cents: Get up off your butt and do something. There’s no excuses left for not taking life by the horns. You don’t need a manager or promoter anymore, you can do it yourself with a cheap laptop.

There’s a difference between learning and getting an A. You should give yourself a D. Then learn it for yourself. Same mindset as, “I’m gonna pant something and everyone will hate it.”
My two cents: Would you do this joke even if nobody laughs? If so, it’s probably a good joke.

“Kulag’s law states that the most important people in an organization are the lowest in the hierarchy. Your company interacts with the street level team.”
My two cents: Even when you become a well known comedian, your manager or agent won’t build your following nearly as well as you will at every show.

“A coffee shop in London has a disloyalty card. “If you go to ten of our competitors, we’ll give you a free cup of coffee.””
My two cents: The next time I print business cards, I will put a bunch of other comics on the back of it. “If you liked my comedy, you might also enjoy watching x, y and z.”

“Abundance and sharing lead to change. Generosity undoes the factory.”
My two cents: I want to connect with my readers by providing free, useful information. Down with factories!

“Artists always take responsibility for their choices.”
My two cents: If a joke doesn’t work, it’s my fault, not the audiences.

“In cross country skiing, if you lean more forward than anyone else, you’ll win. But the more you lean forward the greater the odds you fall on your face. Do it anyway.”
My two cents: Take risks, some will pay off, some won’t. Learn from it and take more risks. (Don’t confuse this with taking a gamble.)

Avoid “Pulitzer Prize Fighting”. Having rankings or numbers brings in a whole other category of people who only want to win the prize (# of twitter followers, etc).
My two cents: I can do a better job ignoring the number of facebook friends, RSS subscribers and twitter followers and focus on making meaningful connections.

Other Quotes from the talk
(I’m out of change for these)

“If you can break a job into small enough bits, you can get it done for practically free”

“To succeed you must LEAD and SOLVE INTERESTING PROBLEMS”

On the current economy and opportunities: “Just because the tide is out doesn’t mean there’s less water in the ocean.”

“All value is created in moments when you have the most choices. So find situations with too many choices.”

Elizabeth Gilbert: “Nobody gets engineer’s block but they get artist’s block.”

“Anxiety = failure in advance”

“The place with no prize has the most opportunity.”

My friend was also in attendance (although I didn’t find out until after). Here are her thoughts.