Monday, March 26, 2012

A Bit of Free PR Advice

So the video below marks my inspiration for this post. It's only slightly outdated (Summer last season 2nd Atlanta race). That's my man--Tony Stewart--autographing a hat for me. He makes regular appearances at Office Depots across the nation. My husband was awesome and kind enough to go and get my a bracelet on his way to work so I wouldn't have to wait in any long lines with my three kids. Other fans, I learned, had been waiting since 1a.m. to see Tony and snag an autograph.

With kids in tow, we waited outside in a line for 2 hours to see Tony. This was my first time EVER getting to see him in person, and up close (I've seen him at races, but from the stands and while he was in his car). Some of the other fans clued me in to the fact that Tony doesn't come outside, he sneaks in the back door. I was really excited to give him a huge welcome to Atlanta, but no biggy. So two hours of waiting in the blistering heat with kids whining about boredom, hunger, thirst, potty breaks--you know, kids stuff. Finally the Office Depot managers come out to inform us that we'll be ushered in small groups to get our autograph. He also let us know that we could snap shots, but that Tony wouldn't be posing. Again, no biggy.

So of course, the line break lands me right at the entrance--kinda first in line for my group--waiting to go in and see the man who I have adored for the past 13 years (this year makes 14). The friendly associate takes us on a brief tour around the outskirts of the store to meet back up with the line. By now--and I'm not lying--I was about as giddy as a schoolgirl. I've never met a giddy school girl, but that's the saying. The reality was that my eagerness to meet Tony for the first time was embarrassing the heck outta my kids. I might've been red in the cheeks, but I couldn't see me.

So here we are--next in line to see Tony. I've got my camera rolling. I can't speak. Yea, me! Not able to come up with anything intelligent to say. Crap! So he signs my hat, I say thanks, and I'm on my way. -.- Not even a minute has passed, but my opportunity was gone. I ran into another woman who found the courage to cry right there. Thank goodness that wasn't me, but afterwards--on my hour long trip home--you better believe I could have. I couldn't get it out of my head. Before me was the guy I had regularly fantasized racing against (among other things, but that was the cleanest thing we ever did ^.~) and I couldn't say or do anything to get his attention. Not even a glance. He almost lifted his eyes up enough toward the end, but the video doesn't completely catch that he immediately moved onto the next thing to sign. It was depressing--no--DEVASTATING. I was crushed. In my head, I had always imagined he would see me, fall deeply in love and we'd be racing tracks across the country. Yea, a little far fetched, but I don't think I'm the only person (woman) to imagine this about any driver (and of course I knew (know) that will never happen--huzzah for happy marriages); especially after I had been watching him race since I was a teen.

Anyway, the point is, this led to me to look more into Tony Stewart. No doubt he loves his fans. But I have found time and time again, stories of his personal disregard for fans. Obviously, I don't know if they are all true. I would like to believe he didn't really walk by a kid in a wheel chair and say "sorry, late for qualifying," and this post is not about Tony Stewart, per say. He's just my shining example. Sorry Tony (as if he's reading--you can't see my eye roll, but I rolled my eyes at this idea).

The point of this post is PR 101. Celebrities of all venues, acknowledge your fans. Consider for a minute that all women have fantasized about you (this includes the women celebrities, too). A little eye contact, a small smile--it all goes a very long way. Now all of us ladies might not be drop dead gorgeous, or blond, or big breasted, and we may have three kids, and some junk in our trunk, and drive gi-normous vans... Regardless! The things we have done to you in our minds are unspeakable. That little glance, that simple smile, it makes us feel special. It keeps our fantasies alive. It ensures we'll remain your fans. It sells YOU. If you are too busy for your fans, one day they might get too busy to watch you. #JustSaying

I still adore Tony Stewart, even if he does treat me bad (lol, I'm so kidding). I hope that the rumors of his bad PR behavior aren't true. I hope he stops in an Office Depot in my neck of the woods again this year. I might not wait two hours in the hot sun to see him, or I might use the time more wisely to develop a slightly less duh-ed approach to meeting someone I consider a celebrity. I dunno. Maybe, I'll turn my attention to some of these other drivers who have been so awesome as to follow me on Twitter. I'm just saying--go the distance for your fans, they keep you driving. ^.~

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