Dave Kerpen | Lessons From My Top 5 Creative PR and Marketing Campaigns
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Lessons From My Top 5 Creative PR and Marketing Campaigns

Lessons From My Top 5 Creative PR and Marketing Campaigns

As I launch my new book Get Over Yourself, and specifically as I launch one of the coolest campaigns I’ve ever been a part of (#5 below), I reflected upon the marketing campaigns that I have been fortunate enough to be a part of. I have learned a lot from the successes and failures, but more importantly, am proud of the out-of-the-box work we have done. Here are five of my favorite PR/marketing campaigns and the lessons learned from each:

#1: When Things Are Boring, Become the Story

This first example is less about a marketing campaign and more about how I turned a boring job into the front cover of the Boston Herald and ESPN Sportscenter. When I was 19 and working as a ballpark vendor, fans were bored with the Boston Celtics and the Boston Bruins playing so poorly. Both teams were in last place at the time and I realized I could turn myself into an entertainer and easily stand out. Without any real talent, I became the Crunch-n-Munch Guy, singing and dancing and juggling boxes, and once I got local media attention, signing autographs on every box. It was a great lesson about becoming the story yourself and standing out. Years later, Jesse Cole and the Savannah Bananas are a great example of how to take a boring industry (baseball) and turn it into not-stop exciting, can’t-miss, headline-grabbing entertainment.

#2: Sometimes Crazy Can Work

The thing about getting headlines is you have to take chances and great risks to produce something truly outstanding. When my now-wife Carrie came to me with the idea to get married at a baseball game and create a sponsored wedding promotion, I thought it was brilliant but crazy. When we pitched the idea to Brooklyn Cyclones general manager Steven Cohen, he said, “I think this is the craziest idea anyone has ever pitched me, but for some reason, I also think it might work.” He gave us a chance and we turned the wedding into a field of dreams as well as a huge marketing success. We got married in front of 5,000 fans and thanks to all the media attention, our wedding and its sponsors got in front of millions of people, creating a win-win for everyone.

#3: Intrigue and a Little Danger Goes A Long Way

When one of our early clients, The Shops at Atlas Park, came to us asking us for an idea to drive traffic to their mall, we came up with the crazy idea of giving away cash on the streets of Queens, New York to drive traffic to the mall. In hindsight it was probably too dangerous to execute. (As a parent now, if I could go back I am not sure I would do the same) Yet, it worked spectacularly, as we gave out thousands of dollars on the streets of NY, with a message to visit the mall to win more cash, and mall traffic went up over 25% in the months to come. The Atlas Solution was a huge hit, generating huge media attention. The lesson here is when you go way outside of the box, you will drive media headlines.

#4: Be Nimble and Timely with Your Ideas

Several years later, the day after my beloved New York Mets lost 25-4, I was the CEO at the time of a mental healthcare startup. I was so angry and upset with the Mets that I decided to try something a little crazy, but very timely with the losing streak of the Mets. We offered free therapy for Mets fans on our website and it quickly came the most viral success I’ve ever had, generating national headlines here, here, here, here. All of a sudden, we were in front of over 100 million people. The website crashed, for better or for worse, but before it crashed we booked lots of appointments for therapists on our site. When you can be timely with your offer and have a PR / marketing team that is nimble enough to come up with ideas on the fly, you can have success like that.

#5: Be Creative and Targeted in Your Approach

With my newest book launch, I am excited to have partnered with Open Fortune, a media company that places fortunes inside cookies for brands at Chinese food restaurants throughout the country. Not only do they have massive reach, they have precise targeting available. So we placed delegation-themed fortunes in fortune cookies throughout midtown Manhattan for the next two weeks, where mega-media executives and influencers are dining. Will it grab headlines? I’m not sure. I never know for sure whether a PR promotion will grab headlines or not. But it’s the first ever book to launch via fortune cookie. And either way, I know that it is super creative, out of the box, and  well-targeted.

So, what ideas do you have up your sleeve that are truly worthy of grabbing headlines? Be creative, be nimble, be timely, and flirt with a little danger, and you might just find yourself on a front cover or two.

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