PBS Marketing Tips

PBS Marketing Tips may seem a strange title. American Masters’ Little Girl Blue documentary about Janis Joplin opened up the fabric of future/time allowing smart marketers to see 5 pieces of the future including:

  • Insanely Great – Start with GREAT content
  • Hero’s Journey – Tap the UNIVERSAL: love, loss, family, hope, dreams, struggle, hero’s journey
  • Include Experts – Include expert content from relevant sources with following (Pink, Kris Kristofferson, Juliette Lewis)
  • Ken Burns It – Pictures and stories, stories and pictures
  • Digitally Listen in Real Time – Arguably the most important step these social media connected days since community forms lifting your content beyond borders, across time, space and audience

Insanely Great

Life in the digital abyss is much easier when you start with greatness. Greatness is table stakes in today’s digital marketing. Yesterday’s great is always today’s average, but the web moves in strange ways.

Too difficult to accurately predict, the web is like the weather. Best way to be is flexible and fully present. No one predicts the weather. We FORECAST something so complex change is always possible.

Marketing on the web is the same. You can’t really ever KNOW anything, but you can learn to forecast, create flexible systems and react NOW. Joi Ito describes the “new” digital marketing beautifully at time code 9:00 minutes of his Nowism Ted Talk.

Ito’s fundamental new way:

  • Chaotic
  • Power of Pull
  • Learning over Education
  • Play, games and fun over ditch digging
  • Compass over Maps (planning is over similar to Agile Software dev)
  • Simple despite complex world – focus on being connected, learning and “super present”

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Hero’s Journey

Even if you haven’t read Hero With A Thousand Faces Joseph Campbell’s defining book you’ve seen, are familiar with and know the hero’s journey path. Star Wars, Hemingway’s Nick Adams Stories, and even Disney’s The Lion King are built on the hero’s journey archetype.

A reluctant hero finally agrees to take on some impossible mission, faces seemingly impossible odds but finds a guide, learns and conquers and what changes the most? If you guessed our reluctant hero you win a light saber. The formula works in fiction, movies, and life.

When I heard “cancer” and my name in the same sentence my impossible mission was ahead. I’m not alone. There are 14 million people in America alone living with cancer. Reluctant is the right word and learning happens fast.

My guides? The doctors and nurses who keep stubbornly saving my life. Who has been changed the most by my journey? Me of course :). Once again I’m not alone.

You, dear reader, have either faced similar challenges or you know and love someone who has. Life is a hero’s journey, the journey we are all on.[/vc_column_text][thb_gap height=”35″][vc_column_text]

Include Experts

American Masters’ Little Girl Blue masterfully weaves wrap and weft until a full Janis Joplin tapestry is present and accounted for in mesmerizing glory, stunning truth and glorious sound. Be sure to liberally define “experts” in your digital marketing as PBS did last night.

Little Girl Blue includes family, friends, ex-boyfriends, bandmates, and fellow musicians. The film even shares the strange possible coupling of Dick Cavett and Janis. Don’t let that image linger, but the clips of Janis talking on Cavett’s show are priceless, timeless and quietly beautiful.

Here is the amazing part of American Masters storytelling triumph – we KNOW THE STORY or we think we do. Turns out there is more “there” there than we realized or knew. Thankfully more is fully visible with American Masters’ deft practiced touch, great source material from many media and a story worth telling well told. [/vc_column_text][thb_gap height=”35″][vc_column_text]

Ken Burns It

American Masters craft, for those not in the multimedia documentary biz, is beautifully Ken Burnsed. Janis’s story evolves through twenty-seven years beginning with high school struggles.

To say Janis Joplin didn’t fit into 1950s Port Arthur Texas would be a vast understatement. What is in the Port Arthur, Texas water? Robert Rauschenberg is born there in 1925 followed by Joplin in 1943.

Joplin’s asexual look, insistent manner, and belting gospel singing made her fellow Texans wonder what alien craft landed to leave Janis. It would have been nice if they were that charitable, but American Masters sets the stage for an unstoppable creative force brilliantly. The juxtaposition between Port Arthur and San Francisco couldn’t be more intelligently handled, clearly drawn or more intensely told.

Hero’s journey fully set American Masters brings Janis’ story to screen at 100 mph with a deft multimedia touch. Pictures, interviews, and clips create the “Ken Burns” effect. We see a story we know as if for the first time. We crawl through Janis’ tortuous early ears to fly through the sweet spot of her too short life. She is a woman in full for minutes before the inevitable overdose robs her time and our ears.

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Digitally Listen and Respond In Real Time

Here is where PBS and American Masters has a lot of important to teach those interested in marketing, creating community, winning hearts, minds, and loyalty online. Here is one of my Tweets and the American Masters team’s almost immediate response last night:

American Masters Tweets back in real time image

American Masters’ masterful management of the “after party” is where social media’s rocket fuel lives. It is rare to be followed back by most brands much less ask a question and receive an answer in real time. PBS’ marketing team and those manning the Twitter pipes deserve special kudos in their brilliant future of marketing demonstration.

Little Girl Blue Tweets image

The same brilliant touch American Masters used to craft Little Girl Blue they used to blow Little Girl Blue up on social media. Amanda, Debs, and Bill’s tweets were a few in an avalanche of similar kudos, praise, and joy. I could FEEL the buzz on #JanisJoplinPBS last night (oh, and great job assigning and publicizing a hashtag too).

American Masters was there, listening, responding and letting the conversations flow. Every now and again the team at American Masters (or PBS) would send a tweet like the one they sent to me about Pink. Just enough to confirm their presence and value of and in the conversation taking place about their art.

Perfect pitch, timing, and content curation are HARD in social media ever much less in real time. Such masterful social media marketing control takes practice, practice and PRACTICE.  The American Masters team has it. Every marketer should belly up, soak up and learn since all of our futures are where Little Girl Blue was last night.