The Best Marketing for a New Blog is PR

Critic John Simon, who has made a name for himself by reviewing theater, film, music, and books for decades, best known for his brutally honest essays in New York magazine and most recently Bloomberg News, has started a new blog -- with a bang.  Professional critics have been facing a difficult time staying relevant as New Media continues to provide tools for everyone to voice their opinion.  Mr. Simon, as so many pro journalists have had to do lately as paying gigs in print publications continue to dry up, has turned to the blogosphere, embracing it as his new soapbox. 

As of this writing, with only one blog entry so far, his new blog, Uncensored John Simon, has generated the best marketing a blogger could hope for -- articles in traditional media written about his first post.  Why pay for an ad or hope for word of mouth from other bloggers when your blog launch generates Public Relations gold like articles in the New York Times, Playbill, Time Out New York, The Examiner, etc. He also managed to spark coverage on the Talk Entertainment, Gothamist, Broadway World, CityGuideNY, and many other online sites.

It helps that his first post was a no-holds-barred attack of other critics for their negative early written pieces on the troubled Broadway show Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark.  Simon scolded them for breaking the old-school "code" of waiting for a show to finish its previews and officially open before publishing a review.  Gothamist describes Simon's post and also offers their own opinion on Simon's motivation: "Conservative theater critic John Simon, whose sneeringly negative reviews in New York were always a great way of knowing what shows you should see, is indignant that critics for Newsday and Bloomberg News are beginning to break longstanding theatrical tradition and publish reviews of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark while it's still in previews...It may be worth mentioning here that Simon was fired by Bloomberg News in November."


Whatever his motives, Simon's article is worth reading and discussing -- Is it fair for critics to post reviews of a show that is still technically in previews and might undergo changes before it "officially" opens? Are early reviews by critics lucky enough to see the show before the official "critic screening" unfair to those critics who play by the old rules and wait to publish their reviews?  Or, since the producers of the Spider-man musical are charging full price for Preview tickets, should it be open to all the criticism the show gets, now and forever, by pro critics and amateur bloggers, tweeters, and social network users alike?

Simon still only has that one post up on his site.  I assume he will write a weekly essay, but I hope he builds on his PR buzz and doesn't wait too long in-between articles.  Blogs are much more immediate than print journalism, and online audiences much more impatient.  I hope he continues to be bold in his choice of topics and unabashedly honest in his expression.  It will be interesting to see how a long-time traditional critic deals with the blog medium.  If traditional and New media continue to pay attention, it might be an interesting ride.

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