Standup comedians such as Louis CK live and die by public relations every time they speak into a microphone. The first rule in standup comedy states that it’s more important to be liked by the audience than to have them think you’re funny. People are loyal and forgiving with people they like. Funny comes and goes, like indigestion.
Louis CK, like everyone else, feels like he’s being exploited by the freaking entertainment industry and he’s had enough of this crap. So he’s cut out the middleman and is selling tickets to his next tour exclusively on his site.
Louis CK changed the retail game by foregoing costly distribution models and selling his comedy special directly to fans via his website. The move was a leap of faith as fans were not restricted in any way by copyright laws. But CK appealed to the conscionable side of his fan base–suggesting a modest $5 per download–and consequently made a million dollars in 10 days. Was this a PR coup or a savvy money grab? The answer is both; the two motivations, after all, are not mutually exclusive.
Selling a $5 comedy video is effective marketing, but creating a shared vision is powerful public relations. CK enjoys such a strong relationship with his supporters that they’ll gladly follow him to smaller, out-of-the-way venues to circumvent the price-gouging tactics of Ticketmaster and scalpers.
Louis CK hasn’t revolutionized marketing practices and public relations strategy. But he does underscore the incredible capacity technology has to connect people by appealing to consumer’s pocketbooks, their hearts, and their minds. Though not necessarily in that freaking order.