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Don’t You Hate Celebrities? Wait, You are one

by John on 06/28/2014

I am sometimes called a celebrity. Decades on national and local TV will do that.

Still, when I think of the old definition of celebrity, it seems like a loose use of the term for someone like me.

However, the reality is this. The new celebrity is a hybrid of many personalities and profiles. (Look at photo but not too long.)

That’s because the new media is creating many more celebrities today.

Granted, some of the celebrity status is not wanted. Look at Justin Beiber’s rise and fall that is so painfully public. How about former Congressman Anthony Weiner. Think about the vast amount of young people who had photos or videos posted that have hurt their careers or other opportunities. There is the double-edge cut in the new media, as well as the old media, where the public seems very voyeuristic while at the same time yearning to see someone redeem themselves from a transgression.

Hopefully, none of you have to face that.

Still, you need to embrace your own celebrity. It is probably going to be your ticket to business success.

As a result, you need to learn how to be a celebrity today.

It’s part of what we do at NOWtv.

I recently attended The Children’s Charity of the Bluegrass Celebrity Golf Classic in Lexington Kentucky. I interviewed a number of my celebrity (made in the old media) friends.

And I realized what you can learn from them.

Take a look at Johnny Bench and Doug Flynn, two of the co-hosts for the event.

Johnny is considered the greatest catcher of all time. Doug is well-known by baseball aficionados for his many years with various teams. He jokingly calls himself “The Glue” for the Big Red Machine.

Although Doug did not have a Hall of Fame career, he turned that fame into celebrity in a positive way.

Look at what they did at this past event, helping to raise more than $650,000 for the weekend.

True, most of us are not in the Hall of Fame or have even had a chance to play major-league baseball. But we can make a similar impact.

First, understand your celebrity in this new media age.

For instance, what if your website gets more than 1 million hits a month? That’s a lot of success. But what if you have a dozen passionate followers? Doesn’t that count too toward celebrity? Sure, I’d call that celebrity status. Why not use that?

But secondly, here’s how you use it. You give back.

Giving back is the key. I learned that early in my TV career. My general manager, Pete Bannister, at KTNV-TV in Las Vegas, told me to get good ratings I needed to get out in the public. Sure, delivering a solid newscast was helpful. But to really get people’s attention I needed to be a real person, not a two dimensional character delivering the news. He wanted me to relate to the audience.

So my co-anchors, Cathy Ray and Alyson McCarthy, and I embarked on this effort. We attended or emceed every major fundraising event in Las Vegas that would take us. We made it a priority. In fact, there were times I was working seven days a week if you include the five days a week with the newscasts and two days of attending charity events.

It worked. Two things happened. First, our ratings went through the roof. We were a station that, at one point, was considered one of the worst in the country, let alone, Las Vegas. But after a year and a half, we skyrocketed to the top of the ratings. The second result was our newscasts and our performances were more real.

So getting out in the public and greeting people was a great lesson for me.

I took that lesson with me to host Real TV. Sure I was the host of the show, but I was also the marketing face and the voice for the show. The executive producers put me on the road in front of tons of people and on the radio in front of tons of listeners. I was a guest on the TV stations that carried the show. I also appeared on Oprah, Sally, Maury, and Geraldo. Real TV went from a start-up to more than 4 million viewers a night within two years.

Another celebrity lesson is humility.

If you want to stay a celebrity, be humble.

Fortunately, I realized my celebrity had little to do with my talent. I am not knocking my talent. But my talent is writing short scripts and being able to read a Teleprompter as if I am talking to someone. Those skills are not extraordinary. Most people possess these. Still, I kept being invited back to celebrity golf events even when my shows no longer aired.

Granted, I am a decent golfer playing to an 8 handicap and I love competing.

But some of the names of celebrities that don’t get invited — or invited back — to celebrity golf events is amazing. Why? Most of them do not take care of the charity and the charities sponsors. They are only there for themselves. They do not communicate or have fun with the sponsors who are footing the bill for the charity. I always did. And I was always invited back. Even though I am not an A-list celebrity.

I learned this from the late Peter Jennings. I was fortunate enough to spend only a few days with Peter in August of 1990. As a local ABC news anchor, I was scheduled to do promos with Peter to help promote World News Tonight. At the time, Iraq had just invaded Kuwait. Every local news anchor was contacted to cancel the promos – except for me. I was already there so ABC News was kind enough to let me hang around and watch Peter and the news team gather info for four days. At the end of the time, Peter said he would do the promos with me.

Yes, I was on-camera with Peter Jennings. Talk about intimidation and awe at the same time.

Still, Peter was genuine, kind, and professional. What really stuck out to me was his relationship with the floor crew. These are the men and women behind the scenes who run the news set. Peter was one of them. They would even joke and mimic his delivery causing him to laugh. Yes, this titan of news was a real guy with what some of us would refer to as the little people behind the scenes. Trust me, these folks aren’t little people. Peter Jennings knew they made him look good. And he also knew being a genuine friend and colleague made his job easier and more enjoyable.

I took hold of that skill from Peter Jennings and have tried to never forget it.

And don’t think these lessons from Doug Flynn, Johnny Bench, and Peter Jennings don’t apply to you.

Remember being celebrity means being out there in a positive light. To reach an audience today you need to be all over social media. That includes creating video, audio, and blogs.

The new media marketing campaigns deal with the personality of a company. People want to buy products and services that are good. But they also want to buy from people they trust with expertise.

By showing off your expertise and your humanity, you can get a lot more customers and also be considered a celebrity.

I’m on the board of the new Celebrity Players Golf Tour. A lot of our discussion is about expanding the celebrity player base. We want to find new and young celebrities — especially female celebrities who love golf.

One of the things I brought up is this: there are many celebrities who are not known in the mainstream media or in sports and entertainment. But many of them are celebrities online. And we need to get to them. These people sometimes have bigger audiences. So, if you swing a good golf club and you have an audience, think about the CPGT.

More importantly, the democracy and ubiquity of communication technology offer us the chance – and our businesses – the chance to become real celebrities and make some money for ourselves or our causes.

Let us know how we can help you become a celebrity in today’s new media. My business partner Susan Anzalone and I putting together large video trainings on how to produce videos for yourself and your business. Plus, we can create TV shows for your company. We have now embarked on using the iPhone to create videos for you that can be uploaded immediately to your website. In addition we can set up a radio show for you so you can reach your audience that went.

It’s your world.

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