The Windfall of Publicity
My agent once told me, “You’ll succeed in this business in one of two ways: Your publisher will put a lot of money behind your book, or you’ll encounter some incredible windfall of publicity.”
Regarding that windfall of publicity, I’ve gone from waiting for Oprah to call to waiting for Ellen to call to waiting for Reese to “Pick me! Pick me!”
Nowadays, of course, social media is the gatekeeper of publicity windfalls. It wasn’t really a thing back in 2009. The tentacles of reach hadn’t quite met up with the concept of viral. Twitter felt like more of a fad and Facebook was strictly about finding friends from high school.
Instagram, which recently dropped like a tornado onto our house, wasn’t launched until 2010. Unlike Dorothy and Toto, I did not get swept up in this particular whirlwind, but watched from the sidelines, fascinated by the power of a millennial push.
It was late on a Tuesday night when I arrived home from a girls’ getaway. In our kitchen, my family greeted me with the expected buzz of what I’d missed—cliff notes and anecdotes from one daughter’s nights on as an oncology nurse. The middle adult child updated me on her quest to find suitable housing. “Trendy but not too pricey. Lots of closet space, good amenities, and I don’t want to do anything but move in.”
“Terrific. You sound like those young couples on that house hunting program. ‘We need lots of space to entertain friends, next to the palace, and right on budget.’” ????
Moving on, Grant was quick to show me a video a friend had recorded. Unusual. Grant, who is a music-theatre major, isn’t generally anxious to share personal footage. Not since the great skateboarding incident of 2013, where I nearly broke his neck after he shared a video of himself making an eight-foot high leap off a loading dock. But with this video, he proudly announced, “It’s my version of the #InMyFeelingsChallenge.”
That last part blew right past my head, and yours too if you’re over the age of thirty-five. Instead, I watched with fascination—because he’s my kid—Grant first playing some rap tune while sitting in a car, before swapping it out for Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.”
What follows is what lit up like a Dick Clark countdown in Times Square (yes, I know he’s dead).
It took at least three explanations to make me understand that this was Grant’s riff on a popular Instagram challenge, performing an interpretative dance to the music of Drake’s (yeah, I still have no clue who he is) “In My Feelings.” PopSugar explains here. As I’m sure you are with your own kids and similar nuggets of talent, I was enamored. I thought it was funny and creative. I thought, “Gosh, he’s really a terrific dancer. Why doesn’t he take more dance classes?”
That was it. We went to bed.
Oh, to be old and naïve.
By the next afternoon, the video of Grant and Celine had gone viral. One-million views quickly turned into two-million as the video was picked up by Barstool Sports, apparently the Holy Grail watering hole for such copycat endeavors. The draw to Grant’s take was that he’d gone off script by rejecting then reinventing the Drake… Mr. Drake… Is Drake his first or last name? Anyway, like the main ingredient for a great book, Grant retold a story in a way that was unexpected and fresh.
Comments have come from all over, more than 15,000, including sports stars and celebrities. He’s had proposals of marriage, which we may consider on a case-by-case basis, predicated on an individual’s net-worth. Why pull punches, I say. Relatives from afar have called, the way you might expect if you’d won the lottery. I encouraged Grant to make another video, perhaps a new trend where he dances to well-known movie themes. He laughed and shook his head. “Nah. It was an in the moment thing.”
I know this is true. I know Grant. It is a 52-second video that, I’m positive, he put 53-seconds of thought into, inciting a windfall of publicity. While the coattails of Grant’s viral video are tempting, he prefers to slog along, counting on his craft. Our similarly wired brains hope the work, not the gimmick, eventually speaks for us.
Of course, having invested a little more time in “the work,” I offer that noble sentiment knowing I cannot turn back time. Had I been on hand, instead of in an airplane—had I known—surely Grant’s interpretative video would have included this #InMyFeelingsChallenge #MustRead prop: ????????????
And in the name of publicity…
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Thanks for sharing!
Isn’t it amazing that we can follow all the marketing gurus and spend hours promoting a book using conventional wisdom and get little return. Then, one thing ignites and sparks fly for no apparent reason. I have been trying to duplicate one of those moments, to no avail LOL. How cool that Grant ignited a moment like that. I’ll keep putting my dreams out to the Universe and hope to ignite those sparks again.
May we all eventually get a “Grant moment,” Betty! 😉