Publicity Hound Sue Lowery of Chattanooga, Tennessee saw a short news item on one of her local TV stations about how the Bliss Spa in Dallas, Texas pampered an elephant the day before it was making its Dallas debut at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus.
She said the news clip showed a spa worker giving the elephant a facial by slathering mashed avocado all over its face. (The photo at left was taken by the Dallas Morning News.) The worker also used an oversized nail file to give the elephant a pedicure.
Curious, Sue started searching for the story online and found a short video clip at the newspaper’s website.
I watched it this morning, and got all excited that I had stumbled upon a great story. I Googled the Bliss Spa in Dallas, found the website, but saw that the only phone number listed was the one to call for reservations. I was hoping to reach the manager and ask her how the story originated, then congratulate her on a brilliant publicity coup.
I reached what sounded like an answering service, or perhaps the woman who takes reservations for the entire Bliss chain of spas. She said there was no way to reach the manager, and the only thing she could do was send her an email on my behalf.
When I asked for the manager’s email address, she wouldn’t give it to me. So I patiently dictated the message. She asked me to wait while she proofread it.
This, my dear Hounds, is called making somebody jump through hoops to give you publicity. Had I been a working journalist, I would have given up long before then. I patiently explained to the woman who answered the phone that I send my electroonic newsletter, “The Publicity Hound’s Tips of the Week,” to more than more than 30,000 people, and this was a chance for the spa to get even more publicity. She didn’t seem impressed.
I cry big, fat elephant tears when I learn about missed opportunities, or how people who generated fabulous publicity didn’t follow up. Publicity Hounds can learn four things from this lesson:
—Make sure your front-line employees understand the importance of media inquiries. Give them an emergency telephone number they can use if the media call on deadline. Better yet, include the emergency number at your website.
—When you get a fabulous media hit, include it at your website. Most local and network news people will gladly let you use the clip. I found nothing at the Dallas Bliss site–not even a mention.
—The Bliss Press Room included several press releases which I didn’t have time to open. I couldn’t find the name or phone number of a media contact anywhere on the site. Put contact information–including a shipping address, phone number and email address–in an easy-to-find place on your homepage.
—I got callbacks from Vollmer PR, the local firm in Dallas, which pitched the idea, and from the Bliss national PR person who told me they won’t put the media contact phone number on the homepage because they get “flooded with calls.” (I thought lots of calls were a good thing, not a bad thing.) Besides, she said, the national media all know how to contact them, which I find difficult to believe.
She asked if I wanted to be added to their media list. Uh, no thanks.
For more tips on how to make the media’s job easy, see my ebook “How to be a Kick-butt Publicity Hound.”