Tuesday, March 31, 2015

It's just like magic!

I don't know about you, but I am fascinated by magicians. I don't know how they do what they do, but when you see one who does his or her craft well, you are left scratching your head wondering just how the heck they pulled that trick off.

Every year, our good friends Bob and Pam host a big Italian feast for a large group of friends. The centerpiece is something known as a Timpano, which, if you have never seen one, wow... it's impressive.

Il Timpano
It's a concoction of all sorts of Italian goodies - pasta, meatballs, sausage, cheeses... the works - baked in a pastry shell. Since you don't want to eat Timpano soup, you have to let the entire device cool for a considerable amount of time after it comes out of the oven to give it time to set up.

That's where the magician comes in. Ken Spanola, also known as Kentastic, has some serious time to fill with many guests seated around the table. That's where he shines. Watching his up-close magic act alternates between mind-bending and side splitting. He gets everyone into the act, and even the most incredulous guests leave with a big grin on their faces after he wows the crowd.

That's Kentastic!
Why bring up magicians? I'm glad you asked! Have you ever watched a talented public information officer do his or her stuff? They seem to have the right words during an interview, know when to put out the right bit of information on social media and how to grab the attention of reporters and the public when things are on the line.

How do they make it seem so easy?

Well, whatever it is, I can tell you that it's not just dumb luck. It's practice. It's learning the techniques. It's stepping up to volunteer to fill the role while others hang to the rear and just let things happen. It's committing to learning from the experiences of others to find out what worked and what just fell flat on its face.

A PIO working his magic
After Ken did one of his magic acts at Timpano night a few years back, he told me a few of his secrets (no, he didn't tell me how he got the coins to disappear or anything good like that). He said that it takes a tremendous amount of time and practice to learn to do any new trick. It basically works into three stages:

  • First, he has to walk through the steps of how the trick works. 
  • Then, he has to make each of those steps look seamless as he does them.
  • Finally, he has to work on his banter to keep the audience engaged during the trick so it works like a charm every time.

Pull a surprise out of your hat at your next press conference
I think if you want to pull a few outstanding media interviews out of your hat or conjure up some publicity magic at your next press conference, perhaps you should take some advice from Kentastic himself.  After all, he knows magic!

Tom Iovino, Public Relations Strategist
Hillsborough County, Florida

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