Public relations is a tricky industry because perception evolves. Whenever a celebrity is caught with cocaine and a prostitute or a brand is accused of using exploited labor to manufacture products, the public has a tendency to become lost in the emotion of the moment. We are outraged or sad or elated or euphoric, and then days pass and reality sets in, and the long-haul truth of life begins to settle in. We gain perspective.
Much of public relations is about establishing a narrative that tempers the ephemeral fluctuations of emotions and hastens the call to reasonable, informed and sober thinking. That is exactly what Pulbix Super Markets, where the winning $590.5 million Powerball lottery ticket was recently purchased in Florida, is doing. And good for them. The brand did not exploit the exciting moment by going public with a statement such as, “Publix is very honored that one our valued and thrift-conscious customers has been so lucky as to purchase the winning lottery ticket at one of our many modern stores that offer the lowest prices.”
Instead, here is what Maria Brous, Publix spokeswoman, had to say. “We’re excited for the winner or winners. We don’t promote or endorse the lottery, we offer it as a convenience.”
That’s it. That’s all. No opportunism or salesmanship there, just an acknowledgement of the facts. Well played, Publix. This is a mature and savvy public relations response. Publix knows that the lottery is a political hot potato for many communities, and that the winners of otherworldly sums of money often lead miserable and painful lives.
Yet those facts are easily lost in the adrenaline of the moment as the entire country speculates as to what they’d do if they won. None of us, of course, would go on to be fleeced by family and friends and develop a drinking problem spurred by our inability to trust anyone in our lives anymore. The sincerity of the moment, that dreamlike haze that envelops even the most disciplined soul, can’t help but go there. We all want lives free of financial struggles. But we also know life is more complicated than that.
And so does Publix. Strong work.