Thursday, November 02, 2006

PR Nightmare

On Tuesday (Halloween), Governor Jon Huntsman and a bunch of other prominent Utah leaders held a press conference in support of Proposition 3, which would increase taxes to build more light rail and commuter rail.

As a public relations guy, it was fun to watch all of the miscues of the PR planning. When planning an event, here are some things one should avoid:

1. Doing something stupid, just for a nice backdrop. To prove his point that light rail is indeed the bomb, Gov. Huntsman rode TRAX to the press conference, which was held at the TRAX station on 13th South. It became apparent that the guv doesn't normally frequent the mass transportation sytem for which he lobbies, since the conference started late as a result of him getting on the wrong train. (There are only two train choices in Salt Lake, not really rocket science or anything.) Once he was there, the train stopped running and stayed motionless in order to serve as a backdrop to the speeches. While I'm sure it was intended to make the press conference visually appealing to TV cameras, it was a bit funny to watch people keep rushing to the train and pushing the door-open button, only to find the doors locked and the train stationary. Who cares if people can actually ride the train, we're holding a press conference up in here!

2. Planning a serious event outside on Halloween. As Homer Simpson says, "Mass transportation is for jerks and lesbians." TRAX is used by a fair share of weirdos. Throw Halloween into the mix and things get even more interesting. During the conference a train pulled up and a man exited, dressed in a drag, and kept walking back and forth behind the podium. Now, that's effect.

The highlight of the event, however, was when a second Halloween drag queen emerged from a train only to stand behind the speakers and loudly comment, "What's your take on medical marijuana, what's your take on medical marijuana, how do you feel about MEDICAL MARIJUANA?" Classic.

3. Allowing the Governor to act cool. In addition to wearing leather biker boots with his suit, the guv said TRAX is great for people - like him - who will be going to the Delta Center next month to see The Who. The audience collectively rolled their eyes.

4. Enough with the wristbands, already. It was fine when Lance Armstrong was raising money for cancer research or whatever, but handing out little plastic bracelets that say "Mass Transit in 2015" or something stupid like that? Are we 5 years old? As Gob Bluth would say, "Come on!"

No comments: