Joe LoCicero is a Los Angeles-based author, TV writer, columnist, and marketing consultant. He has been integrally involved with the marketing strategy for hundreds of network and cable television programs, as well as numerous consumer products. He has put his marketing, publicity, and advertising skills to work launching his own family lifestyle company, PRACTICAL WHIMSY, which captures his other expertise: offering advice, products, and tips for family suppers, celebrations, and decorating.
Author Web site: www.practicalwhimsy.com
BookEnds: Describe your book in 50 words or less.
Joe: Gleaned and culled from my experience working for Fortune 500 companies, studios, and networks, Streetwise Business Communication canvasses the most effective, clearest way to deliver a company’s message by both traditional means (letters, memos, meetings) and newer modes (e-mails, Web sites, PowerPoints) that—when mastered—both save and make time and money for small businesses.
BookEnds: Why did you write this book?
Joe: I feel that—ironically—the more technologically savvy communication gets, the less people seem to truly know how to communicate. I wanted to reach out and influence anyone in a workplace to take a step back and analyze the best way to compose and deliver any message they’re trying to get out there. To communicate effectively with different audiences takes more than a little creativity, and I’ve been fortunate to be able to bridge both business and creativity often in my career. Having had experience on the publicity agency side, in the media, and working for Fortune 500 companies, I’ve been able to use that background to help small companies carve out their own niche in today’s highly competitive marketplace. That perspective, and having to use it for my own company, allowed me to understand how I could help other companies start, continue, improve, or change their communication modes and methods in everything from composing an e-mail and writing a business plan, to developing a press kit, drawing up an ad, outlining a speech, or designing a Web site.
BookEnds: What has been your most successful marketing campaign?
Joe: In the book world, I’ve only had one book out so far, which came out last year. And although it’s been my only marketing campaign to date in publishing, I’m very proud of it and what we’ve accomplished. I believe that—particularly in nonfiction books—there are a tremendous amount of pitching angles to explore. You just have to brainstorm . . . a lot. It also helps that my first job was writing obituaries for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Working in that newsroom environment, combined with pitching to entertainment media for Paramount and Turner Broadcasting, has given me a remarkable sense of knowing what does (and more important, what doesn’t) interest someone in the media. You have to suss out: “Where’s the story?” “Why do they care about it?” “And then: Will the resulting hit prompt someone to buy the book?” To that end, after writing The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Clear Thinking (Penguin 2005), I came up with literally dozens of angles, organized and categorized by what print and broadcast outlets might be interested in them. Even though “thinking” obviously has wide appeal, the angles themselves had to be very specific. But that approach paid off with many diverse outlets. Some of the hits included two articles in Cosmopolitan (on separate clear-thinking-related topics), SIRIUS’s Martha Stewart Living Radio, daily newspapers in the U.S. and Canada, education publications including George Lucas’s Edutopia magazine, Woman’s World, and several radio stations.
BookEnds: What’s your next book? When should we look for it?
Joe: I have two books coming up: the first, Cake Decorating for Dummies, is being released in April. That topic ties in with PRACTICAL WHIMSY, and gives instructions, ideas, and techniques for all kinds of celebratory cakes. And another Streetwise title, Streetwise Meeting and Event Planning, will be out in October. That one helps small businesses successfully handle initiatives that will increase sales or foster staff unity or establish them as a market leader, including holding a press conference, staging a grand opening, organizing a seminar, and launching a promotion.
BookEnds: What else are you working on?
Joe: I’m actually in the throes of several projects. Being a writer and small business owner brings lots of variety to every day. Since my wife and I run PRACTICAL WHIMSY, we’re constantly designing new products, working with our sales rep to make sure stores have what they need, keeping our Web site up-to-date, and testing recipes (which our two young kids help out with!). I also write regular columns for both Y’ALL: The Magazine of Southern People and momready.com. And with a background rooted in entertainment, I still occasionally take on a script-writing gig, which I find keeps me tapped into pop culture. I just finished writing episodes for a prime-time NBC series that’s based on a telenovela.
BookEnds: What are you reading now?
Joe:I kind of have eclectic tastes where reading for fun’s concerned, and I’m always in the middle of more than a few books. I almost always stick with nonfiction. I find that, often, those actually make for better stories than fiction. Since that’s what I write, I love reading how another author’s crafting what they’re relating. Right now, I’m immersed in Disney War, James B. Stewart’s account of the last two decades at the entertainment giant; Amy Sedaris’s I Like You, a giddy trip through her various (and sometimes unconventional) ideas for entertaining; Bina Abling’s Fashion Sketchbook, because I always like to be engaged in learning exercises, and her Parsons School of Design expertise on drawing is incomparable; and humorist James Thurber’s Thurber Carnival collection of short stories . . . because, amidst whatever and everything I might be working on, he always makes me laugh (and we all know how important that is).