A PR expert, a rabbi and a minister go into a bar…
That could be the start of a joke, but it is the start of this article on when and how to use humor in your publicity.
There is a time and a place for just about anything and humor can be a good tool to get attention from reporters and prospects.
You can put a pun in a headline on a press release, an article or a blog post. Many people consider puns to be the lowest form of humor, sort of the amoeba of jokes. But people who love words, love puns. And reporters and bloggers are word people, so puns could work.
For example, a headline for a story about ice skating:
Have An Ice Day
One word of warning about puns: don’t overdo it. One pun in a headline a year is good enough. Two puns could be overkill.
Opening paragraphs of press releases, articles and blogs can also contain humor. You can set up a joke, for example:
What’s red and white and turns over like crazy?
Our new gizmo which will help busy professionals track their expenses better.
Okay, that might not rival Jay Leno, but you get the idea.
You can open with a short, humorous story or anecdote. A good example would be a story about a funny thing that happened to a person who uses your product.
Another winner is a story that has irony.
It should go without saying that humor should not be used in certain situations, like any kind of bad news such as deaths or natural disasters. There are no good jokes about the Japanese tsunami.
Avoid bad taste. Jokes about mass murders can be funny at the bar or between friends, but could offend others.
The best way to get a feel for using humor in publicity is to read newspapers and magazines as well as publicity materials like press releases and articles so you can learn from the masters – and see what actually gets into print.
Remember to have several people read your attempt at humor before sending it to a reporter or publishing it. What you think is funny, other people might think as lame, juvenile or offensive. But if they laugh, you very well might have a winner.
And everyone loves a good laugh – even reporters.
Want to hear a funny speech about marketing and publicity? Call me to speak to your group. You’ll have fun and learn at the same time.