When good plans go awry

By Tina L. Pugliese, APR, Pugliese Public Relations

tina puglieseWhen I was handling the public relations for a caterer in Washington, D.C., we decided to hold the business’s 50th anniversary party on the National Mall in Washington.  We had an enormous tent erected (after “going though fire” to get permits from the city), invited the diplomatic corps and the Washington media, and provided exotic food and entertainment.  We even had tents set up as elegantly appointed “powder rooms” for the guests.  (Portable facilities never looked so good.)

We left no detail unattended.  For example, we coordinated with the air traffic control center at Washington Reagan National Airport because we were going to release Mylar balloons during the event and we did not want them to interfere with the airplanes landing and taking off at the airport.  In each of the balloons was a message to whoever found it to contact the caterer, who would send them a gift. (By the way, the furthest location that we heard from was Nova Scotia.  Several children found a balloon in a field and sent a letter to the caterer.)

Judging by the size of the crowds, our event was an unequivocal success.  However, we got very little post-event media coverage.  Why not?

Unfortunately, at the same time our party was occurring, the President was appearing at the White House at a spontaneous ceremony.  The event was not on the schedule when we began planning our event.  When editors were faced with deciding whether to cover an anniversary party or a Presidential ceremony, the head of state won.

There is no way to prevent something like that from happening.  (If it hadn’t been the President, it might have been a bomb threat that commanded the attention of the print reporters and TV crews.)  All in all, we viewed the anniversary party as a success.  We had attracted the attention of potential clients — those in the diplomatic community who would use the services of this caterer.  Although we would have liked post-event publicity, we had accomplished our primary goal.  We did send out news releases after the event as we received feedback from people who had found the anniversary balloons.  That proved to be a unique human-interest story.

Tina L. Pugliese, APR is an executive coach and counselor for Pugliese Public Relations, a communications firm in Boynton Beach, Florida. Pugliese is an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America, and is the author of the book, Public Relations for Pharmacists, and e-books, Marketing Your Business for Success, How To Work With The Media, and Public Relations Manual — A Guide for Entrepreneurs.  She can be reached at (561) 889-3575 and by email at Tina@PugliesePR.com.  Her web site is www.PugliesePR.com

Article excerpted from e-book, Public Relations Manual — A Guide for Entrepreneurs, by Tina L. Pugliese, APR.


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