— TODAY (@TODAYshow) November 14, 2014
Whelp, it’s official. Al Roker has finally made his legend eternal by taking a bold step into the Guinness World Book of Records with a 34-hour uninterrupted weather forecast because dude had nothing better to do on a Wednesday morning.
Playfully dubbed #Rokerthon, the stunt was geared to raise money for Roker’s Crowdrise campaign, which benefits the U.S. armed forces and the United States Service Organizations (USO). NBC reported the event helped raise
over more than $70,000 for the charity.
Admirable. Laudable. And yes, laughable. (I mean, they guy had to break a record set by some Norwegian meterologist, so that’s funny.)
And there’s your question PR pros: Is that really what it takes these days — stunts? Seriously?!
Yes, if your client is one of the “beautiful people,” then you are in the easy lane to get press.
But does it really take a shtick, a caper, a gag, or some related bit to make the media take notice of a client who doesn’t happen to be a household name? If so, we might just be in a bad way…
They hate your pitches because they are either teeming with grammar issues or offer a bag of nothing. They have placed some of us on black lists because folk in this industry don’t know the definition of spam. They avoid your phone calls because a five-minute sales call wrapped in jargon is not their idea of fun.
Yes, I am grossly overgeneralizing, but ask a journalist — they do it too.
Rotten apples in this industry have screwed it up for the rest of us. Ergo, we are left wondering if any of our clients can break records or resort to Letterman-worthy stupid human trick to get 15 minutes of fame.
Stunts often get the audience riled up for the wrong reason: because trolls love the sound a PR locomotive makes when it backfires. Look at Lifelock CEO Todd Davis challenging everyone to steal his identity. His identity was stolen 13 times and for his trouble, the Federal Trade Commission fined his tail for $12 million. Why? Deceptive advertising.
Brands screw up too. Back in 2005, Snapple tried to enter Al Roker’s favorite book of useless accomplishments by creating the world’s largest Popsicle. Union Square was jacked for this occasion…in June…during a small heat wave. Strawberry kiwi-flavored sludge went everywhere and New Yorkers were even grumpier than usual.
There has to be more to PR than stunts and shtick to get the attention of a reporter. Payola and plugola are frowned upon in this establishment. News must be tailor-made and offered (not sold) to the reporter for interest. And no one really cares about your awards, so what’s left?
They call them “Best Practices” for a reason. Al didn’t have to practice anything but what he does best. Perhaps we should get back to that as well.