One of the big essentials of the show business is publicity that will excite the public and cause such interest as to make the public turn out and pay money to see the show. Many schemes have been devised to create interest. Associated with the show business has been high pressure advertising which stirs up quick action and gets instantaneous results.
The press agent has been a valuable man as he is in a large measure responsible for the success or failure of the performance. Public patronage is essential as that is where the box office pays. The press agent's duty is to sell and create a demand. You might have the finest show in the country but what good is it financially unless it is made known to the public in such a way as to create strong interest.
Beginners in the show business are too apt to neglect the press agent's end of the show and then wonder why they cannot make money. The biggest people in the show world have had press agents. While a performer cannot tell the public how good he is himself, as people shun those who pat themselves on the back, the press agent can extol the performer to the skies. Houdini carried a press agent, so do Thurston and many others.
A press agent must have a good sense of advertising and news value. He should be able to sense a good story at a glance. He should have newspaper experience or at least the newspaper instinct. He must know when to lay low and when to concentrate on a bombardment of heavy artillery. He should have the ability to make friends and to get full value for every dollar spent. Anyone can spend money, but it requires brains to spend money and make more money at the same time. It isn't what you spend for advertising but what you get out of it. A small amount of publicity rightly placed has more power than a large amount of the wrong kind of material.
It is the press agent's duty to analyze your show and see what is dominating it to catch the public eye. Sometimes it is necessary to change the program and put into it such material as will excite the public. Many times a seemingly commonplace effect can be dolled up into a good selling number. Many nationally known products today have been failures financially until some good advertising man got hold of them and found the selling slant around which he could write sales copy.
People like adventure, romance, mystery, daredevil stunts and things that gave thrill to their physical senses. In magic, one has a great opportunity for bringing in these very things. Clothe your performance with romance and special interest. Study the queer nations and tribes of the world and associate them perhaps with certain effects.
Think what an appeal to women if your assistant could be produced wearing a costume worn by George Washington's wife or presented to her by the President's wife. This, of course, is only an example.
The fact that people want to know what will happen in the future has made good business for so-called mind readers, etc. People like to have a rosy future pictured to them and therein lies the success of the fortune teller. Of course, most of the future is a blank and the human mind is not capable of telling future things except those based on what has happened before and will happen again unless something interferes from an unknown source. People can make guesses and give effects arising from present and past causes.
As far as MAGIC is concerned, it is still in its infancy. When one stops and thinks a moment as to what might be done with it, it makes one gasp. Conditions are changing so fast in the selling world that magic, like everything else, must keep pace with conditions.
Never forget that people pay for things they are interested in. And they will pay for the unusual. That is why I want you to rise above the mediocre and put yourself into the celebrity class.
To start in magic, you can begin gradually and be your own press agent for a while, then as conditions warrant, you can call in outside help. Your advance man can be a combination of a booking agent, manager and publicity man.
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