For whatever reason, about 99% of my university “Introduction to PR” students express no interest—at least coming in to class—in pursuing public relations as a career. Therefore, to help make the subject a bit more engaging, I attempt to show them how the skills we use in PR can be applied to just about any career, and to life in general.
So, here’s an example. Planning for your wife’s 50th birthday.
Like any good PR pro, I know the importance of RESEARCH.
Before one can even think about tactics or strategy, one first must know what the issue or problem is. You must know the client. What are their goals? So, in this case, how well do I know my wife? What does she like? What doesn’t she like? With a new client, you might provide him or her with a questionnaire. In my case, I just asked Tina directly, “Is there anything in particular that you’d like to have for your birthday?”
After deciding that “a pony” just wasn’t doable (sort of the equivalent of the client asking to be featured on the cover of TIME Magazine next week), she declared, “I wish to be Queen.”
That, believe it or not, was a lot more doable than the pony.
What does a Queen require? Well, you’ve got to have a crown, a scepter, a royal cape, an orb, and a treasure with gold pieces and jewels. And thanks to the magic of AMAZON.com, are those were readily available. Well, the fake-costume variety at least.
A Queen requires a princely coach, but since I lacked a fairy godmother to turn a pumpkin into a carriage (besides, it’s August, a little too early for pumpkins), I found the 21st century equivalent—a sleek black limousine.
A Queen also merits a feast for both the eyes and the palate, so we dined at the imperially named “Bread and Circuses” in Towson, and that evening, at Fogo de Chao steakhouse where the Queen received constant attention, not to mention a whole heckuva lot of well prepared meats. We also took in the visual wonders at the Evergreen Mansion/Museum on North Charles Street—knowing my “client,” I appreciate how much she loves museums and had made mention in the past that she had never visited the Evergreen estate (you can read a bit about it in this article I developed about the Bakst theater, one of the mansion’s many features). And there were roses. You know there were roses!
For a Queen, a single day’s feting would seem too mundane, so naturally I developed a full weekend of amusement for m’lady.
Following the full day described above this past Friday, Saturday was a day of secrets. Unbeknownst to Tina I had made arrangements for friends to gather for a surprise party at one of our favorite restaurants, Cazbar, in downtown Baltimore.
My wife loves all things Disney, so I reached out to friend, colleague and proprietor of Silver Goddess Gourmet, Joan Allen, to prepare her cake featuring a Cinderella theme, complete with mini-faux-glass-slipper, tiara and fairy wand cake toppers. And naturally, the cake was the client’s favorite—yellow cake with chocolate icing. Yes, I know how to do my research!
I also gathered information about Tina’s friends so I could communicate with them in advance, as folks from as far away as California made arrangements to fly in for a visit (just barely escaping this past Sunday’s Skypocalypse).
So, was the campaign a success? After every PR campaign, it’s important to do an evaluation. Did we achieve the client’s goals—to be Queen, to have fun?
Yes, the client was very pleased (note her photo), remarking it was “the best birthday ever!” And that’s always the best feedback a PR pro can get!