Let's talk about publicity. Specifically, to be kind, what I'll call the “unfortunate” type of publicity.
My experience with publicists is as a middle-man, not their ultimate customer, which are the readers of our publication and various websites. Since I get, maybe, 150-200 e-mails a day, at least half generated by public relations operatives, and routinely am in contact with PR folks, I've formed some opinions on the subject of successful versus “unfortunate” public relations.
Here's an example of the latter, which arrived the other day.
“With the spirit of revolution thriving in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, Rubber-Cal, Inc. has sparked a different type of change. Rubber-Cal recently launched its newest rubber flooring product à Mirroring the spirit of current events, Rubber-Cal's 'Revolution' gym floor tiles signal an innovative Do-It-Yourself turn for gym flooring.”
Not a good idea to connect your Revolution with one in the Middle East. Especially when Libya's has turned extremely violent. In fact, Gaddafi's own spinning of events is an excellent example of—I'll just spell it out—terrible PR. Like saying the protesters were given hallucinatory pills in their milk, coffee and Nescafe, and his son telling the press all's quiet in Tripoli, and that gunfire-like sound you hear is just fireworks shot off by people celebrating life under the glorious leader. No one's buying it.
Rubber-Cal should take a different tact in its marketing. It should equate its Revolution tiles with, say, the song “Revolution” by The Beatles. The lyrics are all anti-violent revolution—look them up. Then again, most of Rubber-Cal's customers may never have heard of The Beatles.
It is telling that I saw Rubber-Cal's release in another publication, meaning it got at least some of the publicity it desired. All the stuff about the Middle East revolutions had been deleted.
Rubber-Cal really doesn't need to make tenuous connections with current events to promote its products. That Revolution gym-floor mat actually looks pretty neat in its own right, made of recycled and natural rubber. If you check out the company's website, you'll see the company sells all kinds of interesting flooring products for gyms, basements, garages—you name it.
Rubber-Cal could always just change the name of its latest innovation if it wants to latch onto what's in the news today. Call the product the Collective Bargaining Pad, since all the squares are joined together into one pad—strength in numbers. Certain governors and their supporters would buy the pad so they can stomp on it.
Another possibility is Rubber Goddess Mats. You, too, can invite Charlie Sheen and friends over for some frolicking on the tough, yet gentle, rubber pad. And then there's always a sure winner, the Rubber i-Pad ... get it, i-Pad? Everyone wants one.
I guess there are good reasons I'm in the news biz, and not PR or marketing.
Noga is the editor of Rubber & Plastics News.