PR Fish Bowl

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TGIF: What I Learned about PR from “42”

by guest blogger George Drucker

The excellent film and tremendous PR effort created on behalf of “42: The Jackie Robinson Story” which opened on screens nationwide a few weeks ago, inspired me as a PR professional.

As a long-time  Angeleno, and even longer PR practitioner, I have to take my Dodger baseball cap off to the studio, producers, director and PR marketing people. I’ve never seen a more powerful, continuous–and successful PR effort on behalf of a movie.

It shows what can be accomplished when you look at, think about, and create story angles, media pitches (pun intended) on a wide variety of subjects, all under the same umbrella. I think I counted TWELVE separate major feature stories on the film, meaning twelve distinct story angles, in the LA Times alone.

Too often, we go for quick hits and move on. But there are some opportunities that deserve a more thorough approach. Granted, there were many “gimmees” for media coverage here, including the incredible story of Robinson’s breaking the barrier in professional sports; the impact on society and his family; his courageous life; and, of course, the reviews.

But for the marketing communications folks, this was just the beginning. They went deeper. The first wave of coverage was followed by interviews with his widow; remembrances of players, sports executives, and fans from those early seasons; the local recollections in the original National League cities where he played; the business angle of producing another, updated film on the story; the search for the actor who could capture the essence of the player and the man; the director and his updating on the story, etc.

The lesson to be learned for us in the marketing communications biz is simple. Get out in front of the story. Be creative in your approach, and come up with a wealth of angles that can potentially attract media attention. Get out there and pitch. Don’t give up, and don’t be satisfied with a nice first wave of coverage. Dig deep and go into overtime.
The hits will follow.

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