As a PR professional for over 25 years, trying diligently to keep up with everything that is going in the world of PR, with keeping up with social media being the biggest challenge, I am learning the most lessons from my 11 year-old niece. Let me preface this by saying that I spend at least one hour every day reading about what's new in social media today (which happens to be the exact title of one of my favorite blogs), along with every other piece I have time for on PR Daily, Linkedin, and other sites.
My 11 year-old niece is teaching me more. Forget the kywords, the promoted posts, the hashtags: my 11 year- old niece has a YouTube video that got 10,000 views in its first month.
As a PR professionals we strive to create Youtube videos and other posts that go viral. We try our best using every piece of technology that's available, every tidbit of SEO information we come across and every helpful hint shared by techies, and lo and behold, two eleven year-olds do it by accident. That's the beauty of the Internet.
My neice and her BFF Liv created a show on Youtube called The Liv and Ambo Show. They put up a few homemade videos. These include an introductory video on the two of them being BFF's, a parody of a Lady Gaga Video that was a class project, a few "Top Ten" kind of videos made in their basement, and a few others that really are not of much interest to anyone but other 11year-olds.
Then came the Carly Rae Jepson/Wassabie Productions video parody. Yes, it helps that they made a parody of a parody of the hottest song of the summer of 2012, but still, they are a couple of 11 year-olds with no video, acting or music experience albeit being the stars of their 5th grade play in a small suburban town in NJ.
The first time I watched the video I did not "get it". Then I realized I had to watch the paraody first to understand the beauty of it. Of course, being a baby boomer I am not on Youtube searching for parodies of songs so it was an introduction to me of what kids out there today are doing. I often tell my nieces how lucky they are to have such a vehicle. When I was a kid we made stories on a cassette recorder. The fun part was the sound effects, that was the most creative we could get with the technology we had back then. I remember a Halloween tape I made with a bunch of friends in which we used broken swing set chains to mimic ghostly chains... but I digress.
So after watching the original parody, which was extremely clever, I looked at my niece's video through another lens and realized just how creative it was. One has to look past the poor lighting, vertical positioning, scenery and camera angles, but that's what makes it so sincere. They followed the original parody quite well, and by accident made their parody even funnier. I often tell them that the Cody Simpson poster on the door is a work of genius, but they don't get it. They were just having fun.
My niece jests with me that I watch her video every day. I tell her that I watch it not just because of her, but it is like a little PR/science experiment that I am curiously and excitedly tracking.
For the first few weeks the views went up by about a hundred a day, then for the next few it went up by 200 a day. When it reached a few thousand, they were excited to have received an email from Youtube congratulating them on their successful post. Yes, it was a "form" email but exciting nonetheless. I talked with them about making some money and putting some ads on it, but my 15 year old son, a self-proclaimed YouTube expert, knocked down that idea, saying that kids would turn it off as soon as they saw the ad.
On the weekends it grew even more. My son said that it would reach a point where it would skyrocket. In about the 5th or 6th week, the views jumped drastically, and toppled 10,000. Three months from the post they have now surpassed a whopping 100,000 views.
Why did this happen? I know that the girls tagged it with some keywords. Also, just because they liked it and not because they wanted it to have the greatest chances of going viral, chose a very popular song and a very popular parody. But that's it. No promotion whatsoever. They just provided creative content and it went viral. They knew their market, so to speak.
One of these days I will beg my niece for her password so I can scrutinize the Youtube analytics to see what lessons I can learn. But for now, I learned just one lesson. Next time they do a video, I'm putting a client in it!
I never get tired of going to premiers and shows. I have always loved the movies and entertainment, and being a part of it as a publicist still puts a smile on my face and gets me up in the morning.
I have been in pubic relations for over 25 years. Geez, that makes me sound old. Having a kid in college makes me sound old, and I have one of those too.
Many moons ago I toiled over wiring copy about things like elevator controls, foam, holiday decorations and ribbon. I still remember the products and the people that made them, all here in North Jersey. Did you know that the first artificial Christmas tree was invented right here in Bergen County?
Now I have entered the world of entertainment PR right here in Jersey, and rather than touring foam and ribbon factories, which actually was quite amazing, I go to premiers. I don't even know if we had premiers in NJ decades ago; probably Hudson County had its fair share. When I grew up California was the heart of the industry, the place of the rich and famous that all my young friends and i wanted to live in. That's where Marcia Brady and Keith Partridge lived. And now Jersey's on the map. What a wonderful world. Snookie, Theresa, it may not always be a favorable image that has been projected but it is a different image of NJ that the world sees now, if anything just a bit more glamorous. When I was out in Arizona just this past summer, a worker out there told me he wanted to go to NJ because we had "beautiful beaches". Yes, we do.
The most recent premier I went to was for a new movie called "Bad Parents", directed,written and produced by Caytha Jentis of Ridgewood. I got lost on my way to premier in Montlclair, as I took a right on Valley Road instead of doing that almost impossible jughandle loop to go south and ended up panicked in Paterson. Living in Bergen all of my life I figured that the theater was easy enough to find, a couple of turns off of Route 3. I even double-checked it on Mapquest and Google maps. Lesson learned, I am always using GPS now. I pride myself in knowing all of the roads around here, but frankly, there are more signs and exits and cars on the road than ever before and GPS is almost a necessity rather than a luxury.
My GPS and my husband by cell got me back on track, to the Clearview Cinema in Montaclair. I love little towns like this with historic town centers; Ridgewood, Westwood, Ramsey, Montclair. I love the old buildings and the city-like feeling in these surburban hubs. When I go to towns like this, I feel like I am in a movie from the 40's. It's like stepping into Bedford Falls for a few hours.
The premier was part of the Montclair Film festival. I have noticed that several towns in Northern Jersey have started Film Festivals. Most recently I attended the Ridgewood Film Festival. They seem to be n their infancy but are such wonderful experiences that I would hope that they grow tot the magnitute they deserve.
I was going to see "Bad Parents". Lauren Sudol is an actress signed by one of my clients, Martha Bryne and Mario Costabile's Full Circle Talent Group in Paramus. Lauren plays the daughter of Janeane Garofalo in the move, the movie's main "bad parent". Janeane is herself a Jersey Girl.
The vestibule of the theater was packed with people and paparazzi. I recognized most of the photographers. 201/Bergen was there; they always cover entertainment news in Bergen. The Record and Patch had covered the event. Steve Adubato was there doing interviews with the cast, crew and director. Lauren politely and properly answered all of his questions. There were parents milling about with many of the stars. In this case, many of the stars were little girls, the children who played the soccer players in the movie.
After an hour or so of the pre-movie mingling, we were beckoned into the theater by the soccer ref. The event was sold out but luckily I was given a ticket by Lauren's mother as she had an extra one. The movie is not P-G.
I was very excited to have gained entrance. I had seen the trailer of the movie and know it would be very Jersey-centric, or more so, something I would relate to. I think that's the allure of so many of the Jersey shows for Jersey people, watching the background and geography to figure out where the production was filmed. It's also interesting to see how the culture is portrayed and whether or not the accents (yes I admit there are Jersey accents), are correct! After that we may lose interest but the initial curiosity, I believe, gets most of us here in NJ to at least tune into something produced here.
Bad parents had me engrossed from start to finish. Being a mom with two kids in organized sports, it was like a replay of the past 10 years. I'm not saying that I have encountered parents exactly like all of those in the movie, but I have encountered parents with many similar traits. There were also some of the lines in the movie that I couldn't help chuckle about because I had heard them in my life. The following lines may not be the exact lines from the script but going from memory I seem to recall parents saying:
"You mean you're going to make cuts? How can you cut a little girl?"
"It's not so bad being on the "B" team, you can move up."
"My kid cried for an hour after she heard the news!"
And the final one, which really struck a nerve was:
"I'll give you $20 if you score a goal."
That last one was a killer. OMG. I remember the first time I found out that a parent was paying their kid to do well in a ballgame. Yes, it really happens.
And that was the takeaway I had from the movie. This stuff really happens. The greater question is whether or not organized sports are good for kids, and that is yet to be seen. In this computer-centered social age organized teams gets kids out of the house and onto a ballfield, but overall does it teach them skills to help them as they grow older? More importantly, are they having fun?
At the very young ages of rec ball, in our town anyway. they don't keep score. The saying is "if you had fun you won". I kind of like that, for certain ages anyway. I also like the idea of giving kids trophies "just because they showed up", which happened to be another line, or rather complaint by a parent in the movie. I believe that going to something on a regular basis and doing what you are supposed to do at a very young age is a life lesson.
When I was talking to Producer Dorothy Fucito, we discussed whether or not this kind of activity and parental competitions were unique to NJ and this part of the country, or if it was all over. She believed it is widespread, and said with the distribution of the film to other countries she would see by the reaction.
Kudos to Caytha Jentis of Fox Meadow Films and her team for making a movie that makes us laugh, and at the same time makes us think.
Suzanne Ordas Curry is a life-long NJ resident with a curiosity about her profession, people, entertainment and education.