Welcome to PR 101. I was a public relations director for an Ad Agency and I am always impressed when someone “creates news.”
The secret in “creating news” is have someone else brag about your product. Come on, face it. If Proctor and Gamble, tells you how great Vicks VapoRub is, who cares? That is just the barber telling you , you need a haircut.
But if an outside source tells the press how great Vicks VapoRub is, you have now started to inch your way to respectability. You are starting to “create news”.
So you need someone outside the company to tell how great Vicks is. Even better how about a university bragging about the effects of Vicks? Now that would be a news story. Yet, how can you possibly achieve that?
In a phrase, throw money at some university. Now Proctor and Gamble had over $80 billion, that is right BILLION, in sales last year. So you are not going to miss a measly one million. Heck, that is pocket change. Charge it to the research department or list it as a charitable donation and that’s an extra million you can file under the expense portion of your income tax. In other word, that is a million you don’t have to pay taxes on.
So if you are the PR Director, you throw a million at a lab in some university to conduct a study on “vabor rubs”. One, you will not miss the million and there is a chance the lab may find something noteworthy about vapor rubs. And they can release a press release saying how good vapor rubs are for children.
Brilliant. So an “impartial” scientific lab conducts a study. It finds out that vapor rubs are great, they release a press release on the research findings and the story is picked up by the press and aired on news channels everywhere.
So you have created a news story, the press release is not released by Proctor and Gamble, but a “impartial ” university research study, and the million dollar grant you gave the lab, has generated several million dollars of media publicity for your product.
Did I say brilliant?
And here is the proof that it works. Here is the actual opening of the press release.: “Applying a vapor rub is effective for treating children with night-time cough and congestion and improves sleep for children with cold symptoms, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers.”
Now to make it sound like a real news story, let’s throw in a very impressive quote. Such as – “Upper respiratory infections are the most common acute illnesses in the world,” said Ian Paul, M.D., M.Sc., associate professor of pediatrics and public health sciences. “Symptoms caused by these infections are disruptive for children, and often disturb sleep for both ill children and their parents, with an impact on subsequent daytime activities. Safe and effective, evidence-based treatments are desperately needed by parents and healthcare providers for children.”
Gee where can we find a “desperately needed” cure?
I bet you can’t see this one coming. The study found the cure! It was Vicks! Can you imagine?
Here is the actual press release – “Comparisons across the three treatment groups, parents reported that the vapor rub provided significantly greater relief as measured by cough frequency, cough severity, congestion and the child’s ability to sleep. Parents also rated their own sleep as most improved in the vapor rub group when compared across the three study groups. Paired comparisons between the vapor rub group and the no treatment group demonstrated the superiority of the vapor rub for all study outcomes except runny nose. Paired comparison of the vapor rub group to the petroleum jelly group showed vapor rub improved child’s sleep, parent’s sleep and the combined symptom score. …
WOW! A major university has endorsed Vicks VapoRub. We have created news!
And it all sounds so good, until you checked the fine print. At the very end of the story, you can see – “An unrestricted research grant from Procter and Gamble funded this study.”
And that is PR 101.
Penn State (2010, November 8). Vapor rub relieves cold symptoms for children, helps them sleep better, study suggests. ScienceDaily /releases/2010/11/101108072021.htm. Retrieved November 11, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com