I’ve been thinking a lot about pseudo events after reading The Image by Daniel J. Boorstin. A pseudo event is any piece of news that people listen to and write stories on just because it’s news.
Sound kind of round about? It is. Think press conferences, museum openings and planned speeches. Anything that’s created solely to be on the news.
P.T. Barnum from Ringing Brother’s Circus was a master at this – he would invent a character – say a mermaid – and then hold a press conference to announce it. People would come to see this mermaid in person, and reporters would write about the people who came.
Another master at creating pseudo events was Joe McCarthy, leader of the McCarthy trials in the 1950s, an investigation by congress whose goal was to find communists living in the United States. McCarthy used to hold a press conference to announce he had some big news coming out later that day. After a few hours, he’d hold another press conference to say that the details haven’t been worked out, but if the media came back in a few days, he’d be ready to annonce.
He did this on several occasions; keeping the media chasing him until he could pull something newsworthy together, and the media loved him for it because it gave them something to write about; a story readers wanted to buy.
McCarthy kept the media going like this for months at a time, and each announcement got written about in the papers.
And featured in a Billy Joel song.
How can you use the power of pseudo events to boost the image of what you’re creating? How can you do things people want to write about?
I don’t have anything specific here, but if you could somehow plug into the media pseudo event system, the thing you’re pitching would get very big incredibly fast, and reporters would love you for it.
Just a thing to think about.