Archive for September, 2014

How to stage and promote a Guinness Book of World Records Event

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

i-snakesMy son used to be obsessed with Guinness Book of World Records, — the weirder the better.  Like the woman who collected over 4,000 Winnie the Pooh and Friends stuffed animals or the man who held the record for putting the greatest number of rattlesnakes in his mouth.

Breaking a record can be a huge attention-getter and this article by Paul Maccabee spells out in detail how to make the most of it.

A few key tips:

  • Make the record you’re breaking relevant to your brand
  • Tie the event to a cause
  • Visuals, visuals, visuals: For example, show the scale of the event (e.g. a regular 18 inch pizza verses your super-sized record breaking pizza)
  • Show behind the scenes: (e.g. how did you bake or make your product)
  • Consider a record-breaker involving masses of people to attract broadcast
  • Go viral by promoting  your video online via youtube, etc.
  • Include a logo but be subtle

Check out the article:

Delivering a One-Two PR Punch for the Bees

Friday, September 12th, 2014

i-beesBy now most everyone is aware that honeybees are in peril (I wish I could say the same for wasps.  We went on vacation for a week and by the time we pulled out of our driveway they had set up camp in eight different nests on our house.)  But the honey bees are a different story.  They are responsible for pollinating two thirds of our food crops and their numbers are decreasing substantially worldwide.  According to Friends of the Earth, “A strong and growing body of evidence points to exposure to a class of neurotoxic pesticides called neonicotinoids–the fastest-growing and most widely used class of synthetic pesticides–as a key contributing factor to bee declines.

Last week I visited my sister who is doing her small part to add to the depleting numbers by raising her own bees.  My two sons donned bee suits and joined her in her work.  I watched from afar. That visit motivated me to dig into who was behind the amazing pr effort to spread the word of the bees’ plight.  From the cover story in the August 19th issue of Time to a PBS documentary, the news is everywhere. I not only discovered the amazing PR machine, Friends of the Earth (FOE), but also stumbled across their second and perhaps even more important effort – to warn the public that pesticide companies like Bayer and syngenta are spinning the bee crisis to protect profits

FOE published a paper entitled Follow the Honey, a very readable, interesting and compelling argument outlining how these companies are using tobacco style pr strategies to mislead the public:

FOE has also set up an excellent website:  informing consumers on how they can take action to save bees. And, on Valentine’s Day they rallied activists across the country to deliver Show Bees Some Love valentines along with more than half a million petition signatures to Lowe’s and Home Depot stores. Brilliant work FOE!

As a footnote, my sister’s hive honey was way better than anything I’ve ever tasted from a store. Go bees.

Learn the rules so you know how to break them — Dalai Lama

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Learn the rules so you know how to break them.

This is one of Dalai Lama’s 18 Rules and so apropos for PR.

  1. tacobell image1. The rule: Tell the truth and tell it fast.  This is a golden rule for crisis communications and one I highly recommend to clients.  But sometimes it’s fun, and effective to lie. For example, when Taco Bell was trying to gain inroads in Philadelphia, they issued a press release stating they had purchased the Liberty Bell and were renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. On a smaller scale, last April Fools, gearjunkie came out with an announcement that Vibram FiveFingers now had a cycling shoe. For a flash second I thought I had been left in the dark, then I looked at the calendar.  In both cases  UVs went sky high.
  2. The rule: Avoid head to head competition.  Well this is more the client’s rule.  From a pr standpoint, rarely are companies willing to instigate their own comparative review initiatives for legal and any many other reasons. But a direct battle can be a crowd pleaser. Case in point, in Asia, Burger King was getting creamed by MacDonald’s.  In response, they put BK tee-shirts on Ronald MacDonald statues and plastered footsteps leading from MacDonald’s to BK, along with other subversive techniques.   The ploy sent BK burger sales soaring.
  3. Rule 3: Avoid illegal activities when planning events. OK, you don’t want to get your client, or yourself thrown in jail but if you can pull it off without prison time, the fine might be worth the publicity payoff. In the UK, two streakers painted with a cell phone company‘s graphics ran onto the soccer stadium field.  The stadium was named for a competing company. The stunt was picked up by the major broadcast company filming the event and got lots of print play as well.

I’m not saying you have to strip down or put out bogus press releases to get attention but I do think you have to be extremely resourceful in this business to succeed. Whether it’s a small budget, tight deadline or stiff competition, sometimes the situation calls for a creative, alternative solution.   Don’t have enough money to fly the media in for an event? Then catch them at a tradeshow – you have a captive audience.  Don’t have time or luck getting through to Newsweek then try their daily blog, The Daily Beast.  Can’t compete with the heavy hitters when it comes to entertaining than go the other way and do something so simple that’s it’s different and a welcome change. Can’t come up with the change to hire a driver for a NYC media tour? Take cabs and wear your running shoes.

Check out for more guerrilla marketing inspiration and, sorry for the cliché, but keep thinking out of the box.