OPINION: Blaine May Be Unhinged but He Knows a Thing or Two about PR

Article excerpt

PR is the most under-used and under-rated communication tool. This is largely because most managers believe their products are too mundane to garner media attention. David Blaine's current confinement in a box next to Tower Bridge should initiate a rethink. If a half-naked man doing nothing in an empty box for 44 days can capture hundreds of column inches worldwide, surely anything is possible?

There is nothing supernatural about a slightly unhinged American starving himself in quasi-solitary confinement. What is magical is Blaine's incredible ability to generate, sustain, and manage a PR campaign - so much so that he provides five strategic lessons for managers contemplating PR as a method for promoting a new product or service.

First, focus on a pre-launch stage. Blaine spent the whole of August promoting his London adventure. He knows a product's most newsworthy period is, paradoxically, prior to its actual availability. A pre-launch stage builds up the momentum that propels a successful product. Krispy Kreme doughnuts has been promoting its brand in the UK for most of 2003, yet its first store will not open until later this month.

Second, make the launch itself a true event. Blaine ensured audiences around the world read about or tuned in live as he entered the box. The day your product becomes available must be the biggest day in its history.

Turn that day into one, or preferably more than one, big event and work with the media to ensure immediate consumer awareness of your new offering.

When Southwest Airlines launched direct flights to Memphis, it invited Elvis impersonators to make the first journey. …