Every year since 2001, Rebecca Morgan and her cadre of volunteers have been going into the Willow Glen neighborhood in San Jose, Calif., just before Halloween and encouraging readers to give 6,500 of their “gently read” books to children in place of trick-or-treat candy.
“Books feed children’s minds, while candy only feeds their cavities,” says Rebecca, a speaker, author and consultant. “Many children rarely receive books as gifts, so even gently read books are special treats.”
The Books for Treats campaign has been bolstered by lots of local publicity as well as articles in Spry magazine, which is distributed to 9 million households in national newspapers, and in the American Association for the Advancement of Science magazine.
Taking the campaign nationwide
But this past October, Rebecca pursued a wild idea for publicity that attracted national attention.
“I’m reading the Luann cartoon in the paper and I see that once a month, Luann goes to the library to read to the kids,” she said.
She suspected that Greg Evans, Luann’s creator, supported literacy. So she Googled his name and, within seconds, found his email address. She wrote to him and asked if he’d be willing to have Luann give out books at Halloween.
The result is this strip, published Oct. 29 in hundreds of newspapers, and reprinted here with Greg Evans’ permission:
It includes the URL of Rebecca’s Books for Treats site in the lower right corner of the strip. Two days later, on Halloween, another strip shows Luann taking a stack of books to her parents and suggesting that they give trick-or-treaters books instead of candy.
“When it hit the blogosphere, and I got 60,000 hits that week at my website, up from only 250 a month,” she said.
Whom to pitch and where to find them
Rebecca says she hopes Greg isn’t inundated with pitches.
Not to worry, Rebecca. Publicity Hounds can refer to this site which includes hundreds of links to comic strips that might tie into their causes or issues.
Here are some ideas to get you started, along with my ideas for the strip you might want to pitch, and the name of the artist:
- The military: Beetle Bailey. (Mort Walker)
- Babies: Baby Blues (Jerry Scott and Rick Kirkman)
- Dogs: Mutts (Patrick McDonnell) — There are dozens of comic strips devoted to dogs, cats and animals.
- Latino-related issues: Baldo (Hector Cantu & Carlos Castellanos)
- Cats: Garfield (Jim Davis)
- Families: Family Circus (Bil Keane)
I know you can think of more. If you see a strip that ties into what you want to promote, Google the name of the strip or the creator. Or check the strip’s fine print and you might find the URL.
Does the artist have a blog? If so, you may have struck gold because that’s a perfect place for you to start a conversation with the artist before pitching. Artists’ and journalists’ blogs offer valuable clues about how to pitch them.
Is the artist on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media sites? If so, start the conversation there. And then send your brief pitch, just like Rebecca did. (See “How to Create the Perfect 30-Second Pitch.”)
What other favorite comic strips might tie into your cause or issue? Do you regularly read strips about your industry or occupation? If so, which ones?
By the way, I think Rebecca’s Books for Treats campaign would be perfect to pitch to dental associations.