What We Can Learn About Good Bios from American Idol

9:02 am Media Savvy 101

29061.jpgOK. I admit it. I watch American Idol. It’s good clean fun, and it’s a program I can enjoy with my family. And, believe it or not, there are publicity lessons to be learned from this program. Last night, each of the finalists was interviewed answering the question: What would surprise America to learn about me? One finalist said he was a competitive tennis player. Another said he loved to drive a race car. The other said he was a word nerd.

Now, I love a word nerd as much as just about anyone. But I have to agree with Simon Cowell that I don’t think a rocker on American Idol earns huge points for being jazzed about vocabulary. When preparing your bio for American Idol or your local media, consider sharing information that reinforces your key strengths in the role you most want to play in life and work

For me, the contrast between rocker and word nerd is just a little too quirky. And the photo opportunity of the Idol hopeful sitting thoughtfully working crossword puzzles doesn’t exactly set hearts on fire.

One of my colleagues, Henry DeVries, offers in his bio that he once lost $13,000 in the final round of Jeopardy. He obviously knows a little bit about a lot of things and is comfortable under pressure putting himself and his knowledge on the line. These are qualities that serve him well as the founder of the New Client Marketing Institute. And, he sure found a memorable way to get his message across.

In my consulting bio, I mention that I know how many licks it takes to get the center of a Tootsie Pop, and I’ll never tell. This is a playful way to let people know that I can keep a secret. Being able to keep a secret is an essential quality for a publicist who is to be trusted with proprietary information.

What would your clients be surprised to learn about you? And what words and images can you bring forward to make that29047.jpg point in a memorable, compelling way in your bio? Your bio can be fabulous, compelling, and inviting, or it can be boring, “blah, blah, blah” and benign. To me, the choice is clear. I am teaching my first Publici-Tea™ Press Kit Writing Workshop to a sold out group of business owners this Friday. You can bet bio writing will take center stage. I’ll have more to share on this workshop in the coming weeks for those of you who would like a guiding hand to get your bios in stellar shape. Stay tuned, and rock on.

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4 Responses

  1. Betsy Talbot Says:

    Nancy, I struggle with which parts of my personal life to include in my business bio. People want to connect with each other on a personal level even when doing business, but it is hard to judge what tidbits will be interesting and what might turn off a potential customer (political beliefs, religious activities, etc.).

    Because many of my clients are home-based businesses, we usually connect over being pet owners and swapping funny stories about working with dogs (they can be quite demanding bosses!).

    Looking forward to your Publici-Tea workshop in a couple of weeks.

  2. NancyJ Says:

    I appreciate your struggle.

    When you tell your story in an authentic way, you give people access to who you are and what you care about. That is ultimately very attractive and inviting for the right people.

    You want to spend your valuable time connecting with the right people, rather than attempting to be all things to all people.

    At the end of the day, people do business with people they trust, respect, and like. Use your website bio to give people enough juice to invite their interest and be confident you are someone they are likely to like, trust, and respect.

    When in doubt, leave it out, but always be yourself.

    I’ve had plenty of people comment that I have an adorable Golden Retriever. Others have said that they find it memorable and amusing that I know how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.

    Those are the people I want to work with because they care enough about who they work with to read the details. That is revealing, especially in my line of work.

    So be who you are and share enough to show others why that is so fabulous. Great rewards and equally fabulous client relationships are waiting.

    See you soon at the March 14 Publici-Tea™!

  3. Karen Says:

    Great posting – and I, too, indulge myself with a little American Idol! I totally agree with you on the bio concept; think about the guy who spent the whole time talking about how bad he was at doing interviews – yikes!

  4. NancyJ Says:

    Thanks for being such a loyal reader of my blog. I really appreciate it. As for what happens on American Idol, my bet is on David Archuleta to win. We’ll see. Stayed tuned!

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