Newspaper publicity and success run hand in hand. It is through the press that the public as a whole hears about unusual deeds and happenings. The press can do much to make or break a person.
Newspaper publicity is an interesting thing to study, for when properly handled it helps to keep your name before the public.
To begin with, it is well to know just what the fundamentals of a newspaper are. A newspaper is a money-making proposition, the same as any other business. It requires considerable money to run a paper, and money must come in for it to survive. Of course, some papers are run by rich men who put in money to meet deficits in order that papers can follow certain policies, or to aid in a political way.
The big money-maker of a newspaper is the advertising. The subscription price would hardly pay for the paper used. However, a large circulation is the thing to be desired, as the advertising rates advance accordingly.
SOMETHING TO BUILD CIRCULATION is what a newspaper wants. It welcomes anything legitimate to increase its readers. So it aims to print things that the greatest number of people want.
A type of newspaper that may appeal to one person may not appeal to another, for which reason we find various policies adapted to the differing publications.
However, THINGS BEARING NEWS INTEREST are eagerly sought for which fit in with the policy. The sensational and news of greatest interest dominates the front page.
If you want to break into print you must have something of news interest. Houdini had lots of newspaper publicity because he was on the lookout most of the time for stunts that would attract public attention. He stirred up excitement of some kind wherever he played, directly or indirectly. The main idea was to keep his name before the public.
The larger the city, the harder it is for a person to get newspaper space. The space is more valuable. To break into print in a small town newspaper is very easy as there is not so much high pressure competition. Chicago and New York are the two hardest points in America to control as a rule. They are the two largest cities.
So much is happening there that it is hard to do something that will make a public impression. Of course, as your reputation increases and newspapers get to know you, the easier it is, and newspapers follow you, rather than you go to them.
But there must be a start. If you are giving a public show for which admission is charged, you must not expect to walk into a newspaper office and have them give you a writeup about your show, where it will be held, etc. Why should they? By giving you a free write-up it means loss of pay in the advertising department. Walk in and buy space in the newspaper and pay for it when it comes to the advertising field. However, if you spend money for ads and you have something of public interest, the editorial department may co-operate with you at least in an indirect way.
Personally I have found newspaper men very cooperative when the proposition was fair. I would lay my cards on the table before the editorial and advertising department and tell them what I wanted to accomplish and at the same time I was willing to do all I could to co-operate with the newspaper to interest the reading public.
Sometimes I would give a special performance to the newspaper men. Many times a newspaper would be fathering some charitable institution and I would play free of charge for that institution. The result would be a fine write-up telling of the performance and many times illustrated with photographs.
Perhaps the paper was putting on a special campaign that I could help them over with. Or I could put on a ballyhoo stunt free to the public under the auspices of the newspaper.
Nicola, Hardeen, etc. have gained newspaper space by doing the substitution trunk mystery on a platform built in front of the newspaper office. They helped the newspaper gain publicity.
Perhaps in your experience you have gained Information, seen or collected things that would be fine for public interest. Sometimes the things you think the least interesting are the most. They may be apart from magic and yet act in co-operation.
Now there is John Mulholland of New York who doesn't seem to have much difficulty in breaking into print. John has always something interesting up his sleeve. "Whereas Tarbell is a magician who lectures, I am a lecturer who magics", he says, Mulholland travels quite a bit and is on the lookout for things of news interest. He has been in forty countries picking up information along the unbeaten path. He has collected odd pieces of magic and has one of the finest magical libraries in the country. He keeps up to date on magic and its kindred subjects, and is original in presentation.
Only recently he came into my studio after giving a number of lectures on magic illustrated with various effects. He had a roll of newspaper publicity under his arm.
In Plate 14, next page, I have taken a bit of it, from Memphis, Omaha, and other papers. Note the length of the articles. The illustrated article was a front page one. Note the angles he used for news interest. He isn't afraid to make friends with the newspaper men, entertain them and make things interesting. He is a gentleman and knows when to leave at the proper moment while interest is sustained. He appreciates busy people's time and the value of a newspaper man's time.
Plate 15, page 23, shows a bit of my own newspaper publicity. McFadden of the Hollywood Mystics tipped the papers off that I was coming and the odd picture of cards coming from spectator's mouth jumped the article into the front page. The Examiner carries a double column illustrated article on their illustrated news page of a similar picture. Here is where I just took advantage of an odd magic effect at the moment for news interest.
The other article is from the Wilkes-Barre Record. I was doing a club show, so after the show I sat down and made a sketch of my impressions of the audience and gave it to a Record reporter. The result was three columns. The local character idea was good tie-up. For ten days thereafter, all the Wilkes-Barre papers gave me daily publicity.
Plate 16 is Mind Reading Publicity in the Chicago American secured by Axel Hellstrom. He entertained the detective bureau and created enough interest to warrant the article.
Plate 17 is a magazine article about my work in magic. The editor became interested in my work and wrote it up. I, of course, furnished the pictures from my collection of photos. Illustrations put life into an article.
It is a wise idea to give newspapers complimentary tickets to your show. Complimentary tickets rightly placed carry power.
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