The Downside of Digital
We’ve all heard the negative side of social media, where because of how someone represented themself or others portrayed them, leading to outcomes like suicide, reputations ruined and even trouble with the law. Social media is a touchy thing. On the one hand it provides an opportunity for promoting people or products, while on the other hand it can turn on you quickly in ways you might not expect.
Houdini did what he did during a very different time. Essentially there was one media, the local newspaper, and one way to succeed as a performer: get booked in bigger and bigger theaters. Although he did have negative press at times, overall, the method of gaining an audience was a pretty basic one. He would do something to attract the public to come out in throngs to watch him do a publicity stunt.
Get ‘Em to Tonight’s Show
Publicity stunts he did for an ever-growing crowd included escaping from a straitjacket while hanging upside down, he would do a publicity stunt locally, such as hanging upside down in a straitjacket hanging, escaping from it as the crowd gathered. And once triumphant, getting out the word he would be appearing at a particular theater that evening.
Everyone is the Media
How might Houdini use digital media if he was alive today. Some say he would take cues from influencers but innovating beyond that making it his own. He would probably use all the tools, hire others to do them for him but watching them very closely. And so on. There are those who believe Houdini would have a hard time of it today because now everyone has access to being the media themselves. How could he compete with that?
In his day only certain people who did outrageous and compelling things like he did would get written up in a newspaper. There was only so much room. He would get the publicity while others would not, so he rose up above them. I personally believe he would innovate. Come up with approaches that transcends whatever people are doing to promote themselves on social media.