Joan Rivers said what she thought. Agree or disagree with her, it was unvarnished. She was biting, often harsh, but she held nothing back.
That set her apart, increasingly so as the Politically Correct Age developed. Her directness was funny because it was so unusual, so daring. “Can We Talk?” was the signal to hold on to your hat.
She was a woman pioneer. Late night talk was exclusively male when she first appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson nearly 50 years ago. Carson loved her and gave her a chance to fill in for him often. When she became his competitor, hosting her own show opposite Carson, he never spoke to her again. In fact, the Tonight Show ban extended through Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien. Her appearance on Jimmy Fallon ended a nearly half-century absence there.
Her life wasn’t all laughs. Her husband, Edgar, committed suicide after 22 years of marriage. Her career had plenty of hits and misses. But she didn’t exclude herself from her own barbs, joking frequently about her own plastic surgery. She was the Commissioner of the Fashion Police and the red carpet will never be the same without her.
Joan Rivers reminded us no one is perfect and that laughing at our imperfections is a lot better than cultivating them.
The writer has been involved in media for more than 30 years and has been an adjunct media professor for the past eleven.
The ice bucket challenge will be a fixture in PR classes for years to come. More than $100 million was raised in a month, about 35 times more than the same time period last year. The awareness of ALS has skyrocketed.
What was the secret to the amazing success?
1- Social Media
Everyone on Facebook is a publisher today. These “editors” determined it was newsworthy and gave the story life.
2- Genuine Origin The story “went viral” because the challenge began with someone with ALS, Peter Frates, who issued a challenge to other athletes.
3- Visual If a picture is worth a thousand words, video is worth even more. Getting an ice bucket dumped on you is visual and visuals count. And since everyone reacts a bit differently, each video is somewhat unique.
4- Technology Without ease of use, technology fails. It’s become so easy now to tape and post video from smart phones, the masses had a chance to participate…easily.
5- Something New Most fundraising is about copying what has worked before — walks for the cure, charity golf tournaments, etc. There’s no substitute for a clever new idea in today’s communication universe where people’s attention is a precious commodity.
Today, your good cause has company. There are thousands of them and all of them have access to the Internet. Think out of the box, be visual, present genuine stories and keep it simple.
Maybe you can produce the next big thing.
The writer is a communications/media consultant and speaking coach.