If you haven’t seen a replay of Miley Cyrus’s performance on Sunday’s Video Music Awards show, it’s because you have gone out of your way to avoid it. The news networks are still talking about it today, two days later.
Miley and her manager achieved their goal: To change her image.
Is that a good thing? Changing her image is good and necessary, but the image they’ve chosen for her isn’t necessarily the best one. (More on that later.)
It got us talking, that’s for sure. And it got me wondering if are there any lessons in this, um, event, for authors who want to generate buzz for their books.
What, in fact, can authors learn from the 20 year old’s strip tease act? Here are four takeaways:
1. Bad publicity can be exactly that — bad publicity.
Some ask, “Is there really any such thing as bad publicity?” The thinking is that any publicity is better than no publicity at all.
When you’re promoting your book, you want publicity that contributes to your career as an author. Sure, you can do something outrageous, hoping to get your book title mentioned in the resulting firestorm, but if your book isn’t about train wrecks and disasters, does it really do you any good to get publicity linked to either? It might lead to page views on Amazon, but not to purchases if the ruckus doesn’t relate to your book’s topic.
2. Pick your advisors carefully.
Miley’s team spent time strategizing and orchestrating her disturbing little exhibition on the VMAs. Remember, she paid people to tell her to do this.
It makes me think of the authors who buy ridiculously pricey promotion packages from vanity presses (see my blog post, “A new way to learn how to promote your book“). Are these con artists really the people you want guiding you? You can do far better while spending far less money.
3. You’re a brand.
You are, so you need to know what you and your brand stand for. Miley’s brand was wholesome Disney Channel Hannah Montana. She outgrew that, so she used the VMAs to jettison her young fans. Will her new, skanky look help her she pick up an older crowd? She won’t snag anyone old enough to understand what has happened to Lindsay Lohan. Been there, done that.
4. You need a plan.
Miley’s foam finger fun on the VMA stage was part of a plan to have the media world say, “She’s not Hannah Montana anymore!” It worked, didn’t it? Certainly, there’s more to her plan that we’ll see in coming months.
You need a plan, too, so that you can achieve your marketing goals in the same way that Miley achieved hers. Don’t wait another day to start working on yours.
Today, people are questioning why MTV let this bizarre peep show air. They’re wondering how involved her parents are in her career (you’re never too old to get advice from your parents). They’re using this as a conversation starter with their young daughters who looked up to Miley as Hannah but are confused by Miley the inappropriate performer.
While you want people talking about you and your book, you don’t want this kind of chatter. Learn from this situation and apply it to your book publicity plans.
What does your author brand stand for? Please tell us in a comment.
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