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What Howard Stern Can Teach You About Building Community


A couple of months ago I bought a new Ford Explorer (I love the SYNC system but that’s another post). Anyway it came with a free six month subscription to Sirius/XM radio. I have been a big Howard Stern fan for a couple of decades now but quit listening when he left terrestrial radio in 2006. So I tuned in to see what I had been missing all these years.

Guess what, I hadn’t missed a thing. The same cast of characters were all there. Baba Booey, Robin, Fred, Ronnie the Limo Driver and all the rest of the gang. But that’s just the crew. He has all the same fans too. Jeff The Drunk, Miss Howard Stern, Big Black, King of All Blacks, MaryAnn from Brooklyn, Eric the Midget, Bigfoot and scores of others. Yes new characters have joined the Stern community and some have left, but for the most part it was like stepping back in a time machine. It was like coming home to your crazy family’s house for Christmas.

I never called in, but as a listener to the show I always felt like I was a part of this community. I loved these crazy guys. Sometimes Howard offended me. Usually when he was being mean to someone he used to be friends with for one reason or another. Or some poor sucker who became the butt of his jokes. But like family you get over the things that make you mad and you still love them almost no matter what they do. You can even hear some members of the family trying to mediate disputes between other members from time to time. How many communities have members that are that dedicated to one another?

There are some very important lessons here. You can offend your community from time to time, but you can’t be fake. You have to be you and what they expect you to be. Howard does that like no other. Yes it’s a lot of schtick but that’s what we expect from him and he never fails to deliver.

If people really feel like they belong to a community, then it’s not just your community they are a member of. They are not just loyal to you, but to each other.

But there is more to building a community than that. Other people absolutely hate him. Have tried to ban him, are disgusted by him. Howard Stern knows how to elicit very strong emotional responses from people. I have heard movie stars, rock stars and regular schmoes cry, shout, throw things at each other they are so angry and laugh until their sides hurt.

Guess what, his community loves him all the more and will defend him in some cases to the death against those that hate him. If you were talking about anyone else you would say that last sentence was hyperbole. Not in the case of Howard Stern. No one has actually died yet, but if he asked don’t you think there are those that would?

People have gone to jail for him. Just to pull off a gag. That is a community that very few people can equal.

So this morning I see this story: Howard Stern personally calls Twitter fans on New Year’s Eve. Read the tweets from some of the fans Howard called:

“Howard Stern just called me! This new year rules already!”

OMG! It was like the best thing ever! I started crying after we hung up!”

This wasn’t that difficult to do. But how many celebrities do you know who would drunk dial their fans on New Years Eve?

Howard’s community loves him because they feel loved by him. He shows that love by delivering amazing content. Absolutely make you fall out of your chair laughing funny stuff. He makes people feel like they are part of a family. A family that needs to stick together because the rest of the world is out to get us. It is us against them.

By the way do you notice how many quirky members he has in his family? Do you think that is an accident? Yes he mocks them, makes fun of them, ridicules them he makes racist jokes constantly; but he also accepts them with all their flaws, all their differences. Some of these people are flat out crazy. But Howard accepts them into his community. All you have to do is accept Howard for what he is and you can be a part of this family.

You see anyone can be a part of this community / family. Most communities have some requirement to join, some common interest, some disqualifying factors. Howard’s community does too. Just one; acceptance. Howard Stern is a genius when it comes to creating content and more importantly in building community.

Do you agree or am I just being a fan boy?

Shuffler.fm Launches an iPad App


Shuffler.fm, the audio magazine made up of music blogs, has launched an app for the iPad. The site received quite a bit of buzz this summer. For those of you not familiar with the site, it basically turns music blogs into streaming music. It plays a continuous stream of songs directly from the blogs.

Shuffler.fm iPad screenshot

Music blogs are an incredibly popular way for music lovers to discover new music. Shuffler.fm calls their iPad app a “flipboard for music”.

Shuffler.fm made the announcement today via their blog:

Shuffler.fm was made for tablets and today it’s finally here on the iPad. It’s the world’s first real audio magazine, one which compiles itself and changes by the hour, giving you the latest, hottest, newest music from around the globe. Sit back, relax, listen, and read.

Shuffler.fm is a free download from the App Store. Find out more about the app on their site.

iVillage Launches New Celebrity-Centered Blog Where the Celebrities are the Bloggers


Social Media has opened up a whole new world for celebrities and the ability to connect with their fans. From their tweets on Twitter to their status updates on Facebook, they can personally reach out to their fans. Social media makes celebrities more real, more relateable and a lot of celebs are completely on board with that.

Another way for celebrities to connect with their fans is through blogging. They can let us know first-hand what’s happening in their work-life and home-life.

iVillage is using their large reader base of women and launching a new celebrity-centered blog, where the celebrities are the bloggers. They understand how much their readers love to hear about the personal lives of celebrities and want to share in their life experiences.

Angela Matusik, iVillage‘s Chief Content Executive, told The Hollywood Reporter “We know that our readers love hearing from celebrities about what they’re going through in their real life, especially when it comes to parenting and being a mom”.

Kicking off their new blog, called CelebVillage, is Denise Richards. Her very first article is about life with newly adopted daughter Eloise, as well as older daughters Sam and Lola. Denise will write for the blog once a week for the month of October. Singer Alanis Morissette will take over in November, followed by Dancing with the Stars contestant Ricki Lake in December.

Who would you like to see jump on board with CelebVillage and write about their personal lives?

Forkly iPhone App Helps You Find Food and Drink You’ll Love


A new iPhone app has joined the quickly-becoming-crowded space of food apps. It’s called Forkly and it helps you find food and drink you’ll love. Not only does it help you find new restaurants you might like, but once you’re at the restaurant, it will recommend dishes to try as well based on your own personal tastes.

Brady Becker and Martin May, founders of Brightkite, developed the new app. Forkly has actually been talked about for a year, but it’s finally here and made it’s quiet entrance into the world of apps last night.

Some are comparing this new app to another one called Foodspotting, but they say it focuses more on ratings than the actual pictures of the food, like Foodspotting does. After users note how they feel about a certain dish – like, love, okay or not for me  – Forkly creates a taste graph for each individual user, which helps in letting you know about other dishes you might enjoy.

There are many more features to this app for restaurants and bars, brands and even the media and bloggers. For bloggers in particular, you can share your tastes on Facebook and Twitter while you’re out and about. You can also embed tastes into your blog, as well as earn points when people like the tastes you post.

I can see this easily integrating into a personal, food, or travel blog really well.

Check out more of the features here and download the app at the Apple store here.

So tell us foodie and travel bloggers – how can you see yourself using this app on your blog?

How to Compete with TMZ


Entertainment bloggers have some special challenges they have to face. I blogged about reality television for a few years, and about video games up until December, so I’m no stranger to these problems.

As a small or new entertainment blogger, it doesn’t really matter how specialized your blog is – someone will do it better. It’s frustrating, but few of us have the time and resources to compete with TMZ or any or the other big celebrity sites. A good 99% of the time, any story you report will be reported other places first and you’ll likely not have enough time to post every relevant news story of the day like a large blog with multiple staff members.

Here are my suggestions to combat this problem:

  • Post the most important stories and post them well. You might not have time for 15 stories a day, but you can post the major stories in a thoughtful, intelligent way.
  • Add your opinion and personal flair. If readers can find the same stories elsewhere, why will they come to you? Think about that as you write.
  • Focus on original features. Instead of rehashing news stories, think about evergreen content that will be unique to your site.
  • Dig deeper. If there’s an interesting news story, take the time to do some background research, contact people for quotes, or schedule a full-scale interview with the celebrity in question if possible. If you can do those things, bigger sites while actually link to you!
  • Post a daily round-up. Write what you have time to write and then post a list of links at the end of the day (or week) to stuff you may have missed. Readers will still view your site as comprehensive that way.
  • Get on press release lists. If you blog about a specific show, channel, celebrity, or genre, find out which PR companies release information and email them to get on their press release lists.
  • Go to as many live events as possible. Even if others are posting the same stories, people who can’t attend events (like E3 in the video game world or movie premier red carpet if you’re a film blogger) will read multiple stories about the same thing to get a better feel for what happened. You don’t have to be first as long as you’re at least as timely as possible.
  • Kill for exclusives. Okay, maybe “kill” is a strong word, but do as much as you can to get exclusive coverage of something, even something small, like an exclusive interview with a guest star on the television show you blog about. If you want exclusives, start getting to know the PR people in your niche well.
  • Consider audio/video content. There are literally thousands of celebrity blogs out there, but a very small percentage are doing podcasts or vlogs. If you do audio/video content well, you’ll stand out.
  • Blog with friends. You might not have the money to pay a staff, but you and others who are passionate about the same topic could come together to create a blog. If you have two or three bloggers working on a single site, you’ll be able to cover more news every day.

Are you an entertainment blogger? If so, how do you compete with large sites like TMZ that have huge staffs?

So You Want To Interview A Celebrity?


Entertainment and the Internet.. the two go hand in hand. If it was not for the Internet and blogs we would not be blessed with sites like:

Dave Peck

Hey, I am guilty of checking them every now and then… fine…. I check them several times daily.

They get all the good gossip, videos, updates and interviews. So how does a blogger new into the entertainment field get those interviews? Those exciting pieces to drive traffic? There is no magic wand that can be waved. There is however some things you can do.  Let share some of these little tips, insights and yes, tricks to doing it. I will put them in list form, as people like lists!

  • Do not go big..cause you will go home! If you think your going to get someone big like Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio or Kristen Stewart (hey I have daughters I know Twilight too) forget it. You cant just call them on the phone or email them. They have these things called PR firms.  They will just direct you there and you will not get anywhere.
  • Go after the celebrity who is active on Twitter. So what I do is look over Twitter for celebs who are actively posting and responding to people. Right there I know they are more “down to earth” and easily approachable.
  • Look for a celeb who has a cause. Just like the rest of us on social networks the celeb has a message they want to get out, a brand to build. So if they have a cause, charity, or foundation they believe in, offer to make your post about that. So when you reach out to them, do not say “Hey can I interview you for my blog?”  Instead start with “Hey, I am very interested in your foundation XYZ. I would like to interview you and also cover XYZ.
  • If you can, target those you have a bigger network than. Not everyone can do this, but this is something I always start with. I look for the celeb I have a bigger following then.  So using Twitter I will look at the number of followers and reach out to the celeb I have more followers then.  This makes the celeb think, “Wow they have twice as many followers, if we do an interview I can get more followers.” Yep they are no different then us, they want a bigger network and have an ego.  (Shocking I know right? I have an ego! Hey just ask my wife)
  • Just send a tweet!  So I will start with @xyz I would love to interview you about your current project. If I get a response, I will ask them to allow me to DM them. From there I thank them with a Tweet so everyone knows. It helps to get the community involved.
  • Do not be a pest! I go very slow with my back and forth emails and tweets. I do not want to be all fanboy on them. As I do not want to scare them off.

So has this worked? Yep I have been able to do interviews with folks from TV and the movies and have several more in the works.  You have any tips?

Dave Peck is a Social Media Strategist For Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). Follow him on his Website: www.thedavepeck.com or on Twitter

How to Look Stupid when Interviewing Celebrities


If you run an entertainment blog, scoring a celebrity interview is actually easier than you think – most of the time, you just have to ask. While A-listers may not respond, in almost every niche, there are moderately successful people in the entertainment industry who would love to talk to you. Writers, small-role actors, costume designers, and other people who are important to a film aren’t typically asked for an interview, while stars are inundated with requests.

This isn’t a post about getting interviews, though. That part isn’t actually hard, as long as you continually send out requests. What is hard – at least for some people – is the actual interview. Interviewing in and of itself is not difficult, but most people were never taught these skills while in school. Sadly, most people have interviewing skills that rival my snowboarding skills. That’s only a good thing if you like to fall on your face a lot.

It’s a problem, because most people don’t realize what they’re doing wrong. They have no idea that they just totally bombed. I’m guessing that many celebs walk away from interviews shaking their heads. You don’t have to necessarily work in the entertainment industry to make these mistakes, either. Here are the quickest ways to look stupid when interviewing a celebrity, whether that celebrity is a famous actress or just someone well-known in your niche:

  • Don’t do your research.

Interviews are comprised of questions and answers, but that doesn’t mean you should go into the interview without knowing a thing about the celebrity. Do some homework so that you can hold a conversation with the person and build new questions off of their original answers.

  • Try to be James Lipton.

Inside the Actors Studio has a formula that works. The host, James Lipton starts at the beginning, and allows the celebrity to talk about their past through answering questions. If you go into an interview asking questions that can easily be answered by looking at the celebrity’s wikipedia page, you’re just going to look stupid. You can ask basic questions to set the stage, but go deeper than factual information about a person’s past.

  • Don’t pretend to know everything.

Sometimes, a celebrity is going to mention a project that you haven’t read about in your research. That’s ok! Do enough to be confident in what you do know, but don’t try to pretend you know something when you don’t. The celebrity might be giving you the scoop on something, and you’ll look like an idiot if you pretend you know what’s going on. Even if it is something you could have researched before the interview, don’t pretend you know about it if you don’t. Use your lack of knowledge as a jumping off point in the interview to ask questions about the project.

  • Be late (coming or going).

It’s pretty disrespectful to show up late to an interview, but it is just as disrespectful to run over the time you’ve quoted. If you ask for a twenty-minute interview, keep it to twenty minutes. Even if you’re having a good time talking with one another, keep in mind that your guest likely has other things going on with the day. If you’re really enjoying your time, wrap up the interview at a spot where you could end, and then invite the guest to stay longer, without pressure.

What are some of the other ways you can look stupid during an interview? List your tips in the comment section below!

Allison Boyer is a writer for BWE’s blog and the owner/manager of After Graduation. She thinks James Lipton is a sexy beast.

Image: sxc.hu

Covering Red Carpet Events For Your Entertainment Blog


One of the best ways to get a ton of great content and get your blog noticed, is to get involved as press on a red carpet event. Whether you’re covering a movie premiere in your city, or an award show in Los Angeles, you’re bound to get amazing interviews and unique content that will drive viewers to your blog. I’ve been to several award shows (MTV Movie Awards, Teen Choice Awards, etc) and have some tips and tricks for covering red carpet events for your entertainment blog!

Before the Event:

  • Apply for a Press Pass. This is a must. You can’t just show up at the event! Most events allow for press applications a couple months before the show airs. For instance, I just applied for an MTV Video Music Awards pass and the event isn’t until September! If you’re searching for awards shows, you can pretty much just Google the show + press and you’ll be directed to the press site. I put together a calendar of events I want to attend, and start searching early. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get accepted, and don’t reach for the stars! There are so many bloggers applying for passes, the events are starting to get picky.
  • Ask for a Talent List: Most venues provide this, but if they don’t, ASK! This will give you an idea of who they expect to walk the red carpet, and you can make to research the talent in advance and …
  • Put Together a List of Questions: Come with a cheat sheet! And try to be original. All the other interviewers will be asking who the celebs are looking forward to seeing, are they excited to be there, and what are they wearing? Instead ask questions that your audience will want to hear/read. Be original and forward thinking. And try to ask several of the celebrities the same question so you can edit it together as a montage. Sometimes you’ll only get to call out a question to a celeb in passing – not enough for it’s own interview, but you can group their responses (thrown casually over a shoulder) with others.
  • Charge Your Batteries. You’ll probably be bringing your video camera and (if you’re lucky to be able to use it) your digital camera. Charge your batteries and bring extras!
  • Come Prepared. Bring your laptop if you plan on uploading information right after the show. Bring your phone if you want to live Tweet the event. Bring a microphone for your video camera if you can! You’d rather be over-prepared than under-prepared.

Day of The Event:

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Musicians: How To Rock Up Your Social Media Presence


As a struggling musician one of the cheapest and easiest ways to promote yourself is using social media. Many artists and bands have yet to fully grasp the full spectrum of platforms they can be using to really rock the internet and increase their fan base and buzz about themselves. I worked for bands and records labels doing internet and event promotion for almost ten years and way back in the day of the only way to promote online was through message boards and chat rooms… in real life, the flyer and poster was your best friend and getting people to show up to your show took convincing in this new world of promotion and connecting with social media it’s free, easy and doesn’t take a public relations degree to figure out.

Amber O (aka Miss Destructo)

Here’s how to promote your band using social media.

1. Keep your Myspace– Even though Myspace is becoming a bit of a social media mess, it’s a valuable base point for bands. Many already have a strong fan base on Myspace and it’s a good place to put your music to be easily accessable for the public. How to use Myspace with the new social media platforms, point your fans on Twitter or Facebook to Myspace to listen to your music. Get your old fans on Myspace to twitter and facebook. How?

2. Offer exclusive content– Start a blog from your shows and tours. Put content on your social networks that only people visiting these sites can get, such as a exclusive mix on the Myspace or a secret show location on your Facebook or Twitter. Cross promote! Have a reason for people to visiting these sites, you can also start a UStream chat with fans before a concert that the link you can only find on the Twitter or Facebook page or play a concert in studio via UStream just for your fans and take requests over twitter using a hashtag just for that event.

3. Stay professional– Have a nicely designed website for your band, think of this as your PR agent. It’s the face of the branding of your band or image online, it’s also the information hub for your fans, press and media sources that are searching for your band. Keep it updated with tour dates and press releases, bios and press photos. Make sure you have the contact info for how to book you for a gig…this is important. Don’t forget your social media integration, have buttons on the front for your Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter pages. Again, if you don’t know of a website designer or photographer and are broke… use twitter and network. You may be able to find the help for cheap or free.

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