Friday, April 20, 2007

Is all ink, good ink????

Aqua Teen Hunger Force. For much of America those four words meant absolutely nothing. But this mishmash of syllables took on meaning to much of the country when the city of Boston was gripped in fear by what amounts to a few Lite-Brites.

I don’t need to recap the story in too much detail. You likely remember two men were arrested for placing glowing-suspicious-package ads throughout Boston as part of a guerilla marketing campaign to promote the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie. The head of Cartoon Network resigned following the incident.

Well, after a media whirlwind around the event the movie was finally released in theaters this weekend. The film’s weekend box-office take was a meager $3 million, ranking it 14th overall – the film grossed $3,426 per theater. Disturbia the weekend’s top film grossed more than $22 million – $7,598 per theater.

So what does this say about the old adage that all ink in good ink? Not much.

The volume of coverage this film received due to the Boston mishap was incredible. Be honest, had you heard of Aqua Teen before the incident? What’s more, to much of the public the men arrested in the case came off as the good guys who were just doing their job. It probably didn’t hurt that they spent the entirety of a press conference discussing hair styles.

Is the media powerful? Yes. Does the amount of coverage an event earns increase its likelihood for success? Definitely. Does ink automatically translate into success? Not necessarily. Although the news coverage was a boon for the film it did not put “you-know-whats” in seats.

So what’s the take home message? Don’t rely only on media coverage alone for success. I didn’t see a single advertisement last week about the film’s release. Where was the “See what everyone’s been talking about” ad? In Cartoon Network’s defense, they were probably a little gun shy and hoped the Boston SNAFU would have generated enough buzz on its own.

It’s my position that an integrated approach, with well-done, tongue-in-cheek ads about the film’s release in combination with a few “See what all the fuss was about” stories would have helped the movie at least crack the top 10.

Best of luck to The Force. And maybe it’s a good thing the movie didn’t earn much acclaim, the film’s cult following probably appreciate it remaining just that.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Richard Edelman, in the flesh

Earlier this week Richard Edelman spoke to the PRSA Georgia chapter about the new media consumer and the ever-changing world of mediated content.

If you are reading this post then you are among the growing segment of people who tune into the Web 2.0 movement. As mentioned by Edelman, more and more people are leaving the traditional channels – print and network news – and finding their information online. What’s more, the ease of information access allows them to check many more sources each day. Add to that the numerous RSS feeds and you have some well-informed constituents.

Changes like these have far too many repercussions to public relations (and life in general) to discuss in this post. But media ownership, the shrinking news hole, the 24-hour news cycle, journalists’ ability to fact-check and the watering down of what is considered news are only the beginning.

What was most troubling to me from Edelman’s speech is that some people are consuming no mediated information at all. No, Grey’s Anatomy and the latest, hot video game (which my young cousin’s tell me is Guitar Hero) do not count. This is extremely troubling for the youth movement.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect those in middle school or younger to truly get what’s going on in the world (I consider myself informed and I don’t get it all). Perhaps we should give high school kids a break too, many of them have enough going on with the hormone party that is adolescence. But once kids hit college age (whether in school or not) I would hope they are reading, watching or listening to some form of news. I hop they are at least thumbing through their school paper. Yes, even though my school papers weren’t truly hard-hitting – my apologies to the Daily Illini and The Alligator – they at least kept me abreast of the world’s major events.

My thanks to Richard Edelman for speaking to the PRSAGA chapter and reminding us of one way our profession is evolving and that we as practitioners need to adapt to remain relevant. If you get a chance, take a look at Richard’s blog, 6 AM. He’s been dedicated to posting on it since 2004, when most had never heard of a blog.

Random thought for this Friday: If traditional print newspapers were to fade away would we begin to see reforestation??? Can someone get Al Gore’s people on the phone for me?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


I just returned from a weekend in Chicago. The weekend was not just a visit to my old stomping ground, but an opportunity for me to learn. On Monday I attended The Ultimate Media Pitching Workshop, a media relations session from Bulldog Reporter.

The session’s instructor, Michael Smart, travels the country teaching PR practitioners how to improve their media relations efforts. As the national news director at BYU and an independent counselor, Michael draws on his is own experiences and those of his prior workshop participants to illustrate how ANY practitioner can improve their pitching and volume of placements.

Michael is an engaging fellow with a lot of energy and passion for media relations. His insight into the media and what they are looking for, as well as actionable tactics will undoubtedly boost your media relations acumen. Give him a look and see if he makes his way to your neck of the woods sometime soon.

My only regret from the weekend is that I didn’t get a Chicago-style hot dog. For those of you unfamiliar with the Chicago Dog, here is the link to the Vienna Beef Chicago Style Hot Dog. If you have never experienced this culinary masterpiece you don’t know what you are missing.