Giving Our Junk Mail a Second Chance
Like most journalists, we are fairly regularly inundated with PR materials for various products, services, and, especially, books. Like most journalists, we give these things a quick once-over, realize they have nothing to do with anything we ever write about, and promptly toss all the packing, and all of the press releases, and all of the accompanying background material, and the sturdy folder all that paper came in, into the trash — or, if we’re feeling responsible and industrious, into the recycling. Sometimes we hang on to the product itself, often we toss it on a free-stuff table, and occasionally we throw it out, too. Which we were about to do yesterday with a set of books that arrived unbidden and irrelevantly on our desk — until we noticed the titles: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Composting, Water, and Energy. At which point we laughed a little bit, and then we threw them out.
in other news
How to Win Friends and Influence Starrett City
Let’s say you’re a faceless capitalist entity that’s put in a bid for an enormous, subsidized apartment complex. The bid is kind of accepted, then it’s rejected. The press rakes you over the coals, the locals are wary, politicians literally race each other to the site to dispense “not on my watch” sound bites, and you mull over suing your own broker. You’re done, right? Not if you’re David Bistricer of Clipper Equity. If you’re Bistricer, you then:
1. Promise the residents “ironclad proof” that their apartments will stay subsidized. (Instead of redeveloping the towers, Clipper now simply wants to build more.)
2. Hire two lobbyists: one at home, with Spitzer connections, and one in D.C., whose brother used to be Bush’s chief of staff. Have the latter set up a meeting between you and the federal Housing secretary who had rejected your application.
3. Personally meet with the federal Housing secretary.
4. Do so while flanked by two influential black ministers.
5. Make sure one of the two influential black ministers is a fraternity brother of the secretary.
If nothing else, watching Bistricer 2.0 at work is a master class in PR. To be continued, we’re sure.
Aspiring Buyer of Starrett City Is Back Onstage [NYT]
Earlier: Daily Intel’s coverage of the Starrett City sale.
in other news
How to Succeed in Publishing Without Really SellingAmazon sales rankings are a great democratizing tool so it was a terrible idea to hand it to writers, a shrewd and narcissistic bunch. Behold the shenanigans, enumerated in today’s Wall Street Journal:
1. Pony up $15,000 to Ruder Finn, a PR firm that then pays “big names” (like the Chicken Soup For the Soul guy) to blurb you in an e-mail blast to their all-obedient fans. Voila: demi-glace for the narcissist’s soul.
2. Directly solicit your readers, fledgling-band-on-MySpace style, to flood the zone and drive you to victory. Isn’t that what Nabokov did when Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago overtook Lolita in best-seller lists?
3. Lose all professional shame. The rankings include used-book sales, so price those babies at a penny and buy a hundred yourself. Presto, you’re outcharting James Frey while enjoying at least as clean a conscience.
As a result of this kind of behavior, of course, the ratings are so volatile (some books rise and fall 75 percent daily) as to make the entire exercise meaningless. But you do get to print out the day’s chart, with your name on it, and hang it in your office.
A Few Sales Tricks Can Launch a Book To Top of Online Lists [WSJ]
Superflack Howard Rubenstein Doesn’t Drive, Lusts for Good Deli
Name: Howard J. Rubenstein
Job: President, Rubenstein Associates; PR man and spokesman for everyone from the Post to the Yankees
Neighborhood: Upper East Side
Who’s your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
Lewis Rudin, the founder of the Association for a Better New York.
What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York?
Steak at Peter Luger, of course — it’s my wife’s family business.
In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
I’m on the phone soothing ruffled feathers.
in other news
Rappers Like Being Criminals; B-Ball Players Not So Much. Discuss.
Brooklyn native and current Boston Celtic Sebastian Telfair was robbed outside the Flatiron restaurant Justin’s last week, and an hour later, Brooklyn rapper Fabolous was shot there. Fab — who, remember, earns his living in a business where law-enforcement run-ins have never been much of a negative — has been utterly unapologetic about his post-shooting flight and his subsequent arrest for possession of unlicensed guns. Basketball players, too, try to build their street cred these days, but Telfair — a Coney Island projects legend, Stephon Marbury’s cousin, and a Jay-Z pal who’s about as cred-tastic a player as one could imagine — immediately hired superlawyer Ed Hayes to declare that not only had he given a statement to police, he had volunteered his cell-phone records to alleviate any suspicion that he was involved in the shooting. So what’s the marketing reason that Brooklyn-born rappers want to play up their urban appeal while Brooklyn-born ballplayers want to play it down? Shawn Sachs, a PR exec at Ken Sunshine Consultants, explained it to us.
Howard Rubenstein Even Spins Your Telephone
As Caller ID ubiquity spreads from cell phones to home phones to office telephone systems, many media organizations — for some reason we’ve never quite understood — try to hide their identities. 111-222-3332 showing up on your Caller ID? That’s a New York staffer on the line. 111-111-1111? That’s someone from the Times. (“Oh, no,” Times people have been known to moan when their cell phones ring late at night. “It’s” — dramatic pause — “the Ones.”)
This is what makes this bit of news, just conveyed to us by a reporter who spends her days trying to avoid flackery, so chilling:
So Rubenstein PR is doing something to their phone system, and now their number comes up as 111-111-1111. Which means that every reporter who uses Caller ID to avoid publicists is going to be thwarted. I just picked up my phone thinking maybe someone at the Times wanted to give me a job, and it was just a Rubenstein person. This is going to suck.
Yes, it will.