Observations from the front.
From Melinda Giordano
I’ll admit that this title has a rather militaristic sound. However, let me assure you: within these walls there have never been any frenzied cries of ‘incoming!’ or ‘medic!’ – not since I’ve started working here, anyway.
So it is not my intention to lead you astray. I am the first person a visitor to SPPR will see – my desk faces the front door – bearing the ‘SPPR, Inc.’ letters in proud, red arial type – thus placing me in the front line. I work for a public relations agency that counts as its clients some very influential – and imaginative – players. And so there is much to observe.
There will be deliveries of what we refer to as chotckeys – there are exactly 57 spellings of this word in the English language – toys, baubles, knick-knacks that will accompany select DVD and Blu-ray™ titles on our hi-priority mailings. ‘Sharktopus’ plush toys (½ shark, ½ octopus, all cute), ‘Re-Animator’ syringe pens, simulated demi-parures for ‘The Iron Lady’, ice-cream scoops to help announce the street date of ‘Some Guy Who Kills People’…all manner of things that will make a reviewer notice what we have to offer. I know for a fact that the ‘Sharktoplushes’ created pandemonium. This is exactly what we want to hear.
Once I’ve sliced open a box and established that yes, those are the 200 ‘Masters of Horror’ flashlight pens – or whatever we’re waiting on – they are prepared for delivery. This can mean the traditional pairing with a blu-ray/DVD/press release. Sometimes there is an additional flourish: silver envelopes sprinkled with eau de lavender for ‘My Week With Marilyn’…I never knew that the smell of PR resembled that of a lady’s boudoir! Equally unforgettable were our willing helpers stepping into trays of red paint before treading on envelopes – recreating zombie footprints for ‘The Walking Dead’. The discussions regarding composition and paint distribution made this art major very sentimental indeed.
Deciding on who will receive these treats depends on the circulation/internet numbers of their outlet, past coverage: whatever other input can be provided by our employees. New requests are always welcome – we are very open-minded. Sometimes it comes down to who would most appreciate receiving a ‘Greatest American Hero’ cape in the mail.
The names are decided upon. The labels and press releases are printed out. Envelopes are decorated, stuffed and sealed. And suddenly there is a Vesuvius of mail waiting to be delivered!
And then we wait.
We wait for the coverage: links to internet and broadcast stories, copies of newspapers and magazines. And then they are all forwarded to me. I monitor all reviews, interviews, giveaways, videos – all is grist for our PR mill. I will update the charts that track each title’s progress and if someone says something rather extraordinary – how awesome those ‘bloody’ footprints were, for example – the client will be the first to know. In a way, once our product has left the safety of our office and is out in the frightening, judgmental world of journalists and DVD columns, I keep a leash on it, and make sure everyone here – all the PR parents – know how it’s doing.
In a way, it’s the cycle of life. The initial arrival of product, of chochkeys (remember, 57 spellings) – the mailing and monitoring – and eventually, the final reports, when the title is ‘put to bed’.
And finally, when no one is looking, I will see if I can grab one of those ‘Sharktoplushes’ for myself.