I suggest you keep your media-as-tool aspect relegated to local events and local media. In general, newspapers tend to be conservative and stodgy and not much interested in your rousing of the rabble. Most newspaper officials play golf with corporate officials, and their common bond are advertising and profits.
Television likes good, visual consumer stories, and local TV stations will go for local controversy more often than will local newspapers. Here are some basic suggestions for using the media to help you in your getting-even campaigns.
If the editor says the event is news, then it goes out to the public as news. People don’t make news; editors make news.
To impress editors you have to keep coming up with fresh action. You have to be visual, outrageous, funny, controversial, and brief. Your message has to be catchy, visual, and packaged to fit ninety seconds of time in the six- or eleven-o’clock news slot. It’s no wonder long-winded academics end up with “Viewpoint,” or “Talk Out” at 3:00 o’clock Monday morning. They don’t know how to use TV.
Now, how do you get even with the media when they deserve it? There are several things you can do:
- Take or phone in a fake wedding story, being sure to give them a legitimate-looking bride-groom photo. It doesn’t matter who the people in the picture really are. Most smaller and medium-sized papers will publish without checking, which could lead to all sorts of wonderful things if you’ve been inventive in your choice of marriage partners.
- Use a low-power mobile transmitter to add little bits of original programming to your community’s commercial radio station. Some people did this in Syracuse, New York, and drove officials crazy with hilariously obscene fake commercials, news bulletins, etc.
- Newspapers often have huge rolls of newsprint in relatively unsecured storage areas. It is a low-risk mission to insert paper-destroying insects or chemicals into those rolls.
- Some small radio stations are often loosely attended at night. Often, only the on-duty DJ is around, and even he will have to go to the can sometime. You might be able to wait until then or have an accomplice distract that DJ while you place a prerecorded cassette with a message of your own choosing on the air.
- With smaller newspapers, it is sometimes easy to get phony stories and/or pictures published. Using you imagination, you can certainly cause a variety of grief with their crime.
According to media consultant Jed Billet, if you have a financially weak radio station in your area, you can often place ads for your mark over the telephone. Agreeing, Eugene Barnes recalls, “A couple of years ago, I wanted to get back at a doctor who’d really screwed up my family with some terrible behavior in a business dealing. So I designated him as my mark and had him ‘open a pizza business.’ I called the radio station and had them run a saturation campaign of twenty-five spots per day listing his name and home address and telephone number, plus all sorts of promotional gimmicks, like free delivery, free Coke, stuff like that. He had to have his telephone disconnected for a week. The station ran the ads for a day and a half before the doctor got them pulled. He had ‘customers’ off and on, though, for the next ten days.”
Newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV are businesses, very concerned about their profit-and-loss statements. Sales, both of advertising and of audience for that advertising, are vital to the media. Knowing this, old media hand Ben Bulova has a scheme that works well most of the time.
“Most newspapers will start a subscription with a telephone call,” Bulova says. “You call in and order a subscription in your mark’s name and address.”
The next step, Bulova explains, is to call the mark and, using the real circulation manager’s name, tell him that you are with the circulation department of the newspaper and that they’re going to give the mark a free trial subscription. That way, when the papers start to arrive, the mark thinks they’re free. When the bill arrives, the mark will call the real circulation person. That conversation would be interesting to hear.
Bulova says that this will work with magazines and trade publications, as well. He advocates an entire string of such gifts.
Media Revenge Story
CP, our veteran writer and editor hiding out in New York, told me the the story of how he got even with an old enemy of his when the man was organizing a convention.
“I prepared what looked like a plausible advertisement for a nonexistant rare book company and paid to have the ad placed in the convention program,” CP relates. “My ad was a cutout and paste together jigsaw puzzle. You couldn’t tell just by looking at my ad what the picture would be when assembled, of course. I timed it so my ad arrived just at deadline so nobody would have the time or interest to check it out. So it was published just as I designed it.”
CP’s wonderful puzzle was a totally obscene and grossly disgusting picture that insultd everything his old enemy stood for. The ad also promised that poster-sized reproduction of the puzzle could be purchased from the officer in charge of organizing the convention: his mark.
HBO plus other cable and satellite services are the fastest growing dicisions in the television industry now. Engineering rebels and other Power-for-the-People folks have already designed and built Black Boxes for home use. These decode the various scrambled subscriber-paid-for signals like HBO. Ma ReBel suggests having your mark sell these devices. It’s just like the trick about Blue Boxes (see *Ma Bell*), only this time the mark will be “marketing” the boxes of the darker color wich defraud the TV cable and satellite companies. Modify and abuse, I always say.
By the way, it is illegal to sell Black Boxes or even the circuit boards for them. But, as of this printing, it was not illegal to sell or give away the plans for the equipment. If someone sends plans along, I bet George Hayduke will publish them in his next book.
Many of the bluenosed, humourless media savants who said that Hayduking with newspaper ads can get you in big trouble were wrong. At least once anyway. I snorted at their pious ignorance when a South Dakota judge ruled as such late in 1981. An anonymous classified newspaper ad had thanked a named woman for “all the good times you gave me.” In this case the mark sued the *Sioux Falls Argus-Leader* for invasion of her privacy. They countered that “good times” was capable of being read in either an innocent or a titillating way and would hardly offend the sensitivities of an ordinary reader. The judge agreed and tossed out the suit.