Serendipity plays a role in any successful publicity campaign. It's the break you didn't see coming that pretty much falls in your lap, and by definition it comes from an unexpected source. This happened for me recently, and the unexpected source behind it was Jack Welch.
I worked with Jack and his wife Suzy a few years ago when their bestselling book Winning was published. (Suzy's been highly visible lately promoting her own book, 10-10-10. Some book flack somewhere is doing a great job.) I always found Jack to be an energizing figure--decisive, of course, and demanding in the best sense. You always came out of a meeting with him more juiced about the project than when you went in.
When that Publishers Weekly essay about my layoff experience ran back in February I forwarded it to Jack's office as an FYI. I didn't really expect a response, but in fact he replied with a lovely note, calling the essay "a beautiful piece over such a difficult situation" and noting that "it is filled with lessons." He thanked me for sharing it and wished me all the best in the days ahead. I figured having Jack's good wishes couldn't be a bad thing, and thought that would be the end of it. But there was more to come.
A couple of weeks later he got in touch again to let me know that he and Suzy alluded to my essay in their regular BusinessWeek column The Welch Way. "Hope this saves a few from the experience you went through," he wrote. It would be nice to think that it did.
Incidentally, the folks over at Publishers Weekly connected the dots between The Welch Way column and my essay in their enewsletter PWDaily. Serendipity played a much smaller role in this break--I shamelessly called it to their attention.