Publicity, P.T. Barnum and KFC

In P.R., the father of publicity stunts, P.T. Barnum made a name for himself while promoting the circus. Whenever the American Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Baily circus came to town, it was usually preceded or accompanied by a publicity stunt. These stunts included parading an elephant through the town square, acrobats or trapeze artists performing feats of strength or skill to encourage public attention and get the media to promote the event. It’s no different from the stunts created by companies today to promote new products. Some of these stunts are intentional, others are not. For example CEO Steve Jobs of Apple periodically responds with rather blunt, condescending e-mails to customers who complain or question him. (see here: http://gawker.com/5641211/steve-jobs-in-email-pissing-match-with-college-journalism-student?skyline=true&s=i

Enter Kentucky Fried Chicken. More recently known as KFC, home of Colonel Sanders if you remember the iconic founder, the company has embarked on a new strategy to attract customers using the behinds of college co-eds. It’s crass and irrelevant. See the story here: http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2010-09-22-kfc22_ST_N.htm

College students market KFC product on their rears

The bottom line (pun intended) is exactly what one brand expert suggested: Clean up the stores and make a better product. Bunless chicken sandwiches?

Marketing and PR on a shoestring budget

When I started my business nearly eight years ago (March 2001), the U.S. was entering a period of economic stress, with unemployment rising and layoffs, many industry sectors were experiencing a downtown. Entering 2009, we’re in a similar position, arguably more significant, however the challenge to any business marketing and PR effort is the same: do more with less–or at least maintain in the face of economic gloom. In this blog, I’ll explore a few of these ideas in more detail so that your business can prosper & grow in spite of the lean times. For now, let me suggest a few tips:

Be resourceful- use existing resources, employees. Provide training where needed. Learn a new skill.

Research/survey your customer base – What do you really know about your best customers or the prospective customers you are trying to reach?

Targeted advertising – don’t waste your money on coupon clippers, yellow pages advertising or broad-based advertising. Use pay-per clicks, targeted e-mail distribution lists and reach out to your existing customer base.

Use Effective PR – this means using publicity techniques using time-tested PR tactics that deliver attention, buzz and more importantly customers.