Spreading the Word
One thing you should remember during your extraordinary journey is that, unless you strike a lucky publicity coup, chances are, that wherever you go, nobody will have ever heard about you.
Depending on your objective, and your objectivity, your frustration level may simmer, or go through the roof. Keep in mind that there are many people who just don't give a damn about what you're doing, and just let them be. You will find, more often than not, a select soul who is enamored by your quest. Let your spirit ride with these people, for they will keep you going. Ignore the naysayers, the ignorant and the dull bores who pass you off as just another story.
I approached about 100 newspaper offices requesting coverage for the True America project, and I would say about half of them obliged. This is an amazing success rate, considering that I was usually rude enough to give them little or no lead time. I did this not only because I didn't know of any other way, but because it worked. My success with a particular editor or writer depended not so much on their need for a story, but their own curiosity and even enthusiasm about the project. I was living the extreme, ultimate life of a journalist, and there were many journalists who not only wanted to tell my story, but who wanted to hear it.
Your Agent -
Expecting to run your show entirely from the road is sheer madness. I know this because I tried it. You have no office, no telephone, fax or even a desk. Find someone who really loves you and tell them you will leave them for xx months, then have the nerve to ask them to promote your trip for you.
As a journalist, I am not as enthused by a story lead given to me by the subject themselves, so it was a bold move for me to try to promote myself, and I realize I would have had much more success just by letting the editors hear the the lead from a third party. More often than you might believe, I would wake up in a stranger's yard, my host would walk out to my camper and say; "I hope you don't mind, but I called the local newspaper, and they would like to come out and interview you."
Your vehicle -
Make friends with a sign maker, and dress up your vehicle. I put my web site URL on my saddlebags and also my trailer, where I also put the names of all 50 states. Doing this will help you stand out and give you credibility.
Your card -
Every businessperson has a calling card, and if you want people to remember you and to look up your web site, give them a card. You could easily have simple business cards made up, but I made larger, more colorful ones for three reasons; First, I had a lot to put on them; Second, I had to make changes, for new sponsors and whatever; and third, I was promoting an event, not just a business, and it needed to be less formal, with a little more flair. Click on the thumbnail, or here to see a sample of the card which I gave to practically everybody I met.
I developed this card in Word, and set it up 8 to a page. I kept a master copy with me, and whenever I ran low, I just went to a copy shop and ran off about 125 copies, for 1,000 cards. The difficult part is cutting the sheets and getting the margins right - it's a real pain, and it seldom comes out perfect. But as a friend told me; "you don't want to look too polished."
If you really want to look polished, call the people who print baseball cards, because that would be perfect. You can put a beautiful, colorful photo and logo on the front, and all your information on the back. They're expensive, so try to get someone to sponsor the printing for you.
Your media kit -
I made up an informal press release which I put in my media kits. I assembled 20 kits at a time and gave them to newspapers, magazines, television stations and even potential sponsors. They were very handy when people "wanted something on paper" to understand what I was doing.
Include the following items in your kit:
- Press Release
- Printout of your main page
- Printout of one of your best pages
- Copy of an article a publication has written about you
- 3 calling cards
Print up a colorful letterhead for writing notes and letters to people.