Today’s 21st Century public relations lesson –
third party endorsements

In the 20th Century public relations practitioners churned out press releases in hopes of getting their, or their company’s, name in the news. This was viewed as third party endorsement. The newspaper was trusted, so they or their product could be trusted. Some people still believe that’s how public relations/marketing works in the 21st Century.

Today you still get third party endorsements, but not for press releases. They need to be unique and fit your brand. It requires diligent work to find the correct endorsers to develop your brand.

Let’s say you’re a state under attack for a recent piece of legislation.

Some states may bury their head in the sand and not acknowledge they have a problem. The governor would not take a proactive public relations stance at the first flicker of bad publicity. She’d probably NOT be on Face the Nation, This Week and other national news programs. She might even accuse all illegal immigrants as being drug smugglers, but that would be horrific public relations and plain stupid to do.

Here’s how a wizened 21st Century Marketing Sociologist would help defuse the situation.

Let’s say the state is plentiful on celebrities, like a former American Idol judge and a future American Idol judge who recently won a Donald Trump show.

Lots of sports figures, including a basketball guy who fixed his own broken nose on television.

Still do your research. You need something unique.

Nobody beats California for celebrities. Even if you had two of Disney’s hottest stars, like David Henrie or Chelsea Staub, from your state; they’re now as Californian as Joe Jonas. Wait, he was born in the state Staub’s was.

You need a unique brand in the 21st Century. Not a me too situation. Look at Apple’s iPad, 2-million sold in a month. This established the foundation for iPhone 4 selling nearly the same in three days. Branding needs to be unique for 21st Century marketing.

What if your state had an abundance of top selling motivational speakers not born there, but they loved the state so much, they chose to live there? They could live anywhere, but they chose your state. That’s unique. There’s your public relations angle.

You discover top motivational speakers Harvey Mackay (clarification – he only winters in your state), Larry Winget, Rich Dad Robert Kiyosaki, sales expert Tom Hopkins all reside in your state. The late Paul Harvey and Cavett Robert (founder of the National Speakers Association) lived there. Your state houses the Ken Blanchard College of Business.

So here’s how you’d develop your PR angle. You call them. Like Harvey Mackay. You know you’re never going to get through to them, but you’re only looking for third party endorsements.

So that's what I did. I called Harvey Mackay’s Mackay Mitchell Envelope Company in Minnesota June 29. Like FedEx, the phone didn’t even ring.

This is Harvey

I’m looking for Harvey Mackay, you say in disbelief.

I’m Harvey

You introduce yourself, explain your mission. Mackay, all business, polite, informs you he’s in the middle of a press junket and on his way out of town, but he will cordially give you three minutes (which blossoms to twice that much).

Mackay said he came to Arizona 35 years ago (1975?). I play golf at the senior level, he says as his reason for choosing Arizona. I’m a marathon runner. I love the (Phoenix) Suns.

He informs you his wife, Carol Ann, is a Navajo art aficionado. This led many to the Southwest.

Turns out Rich Dad Robert Kiyosaki moved to Arizona for the same reason. In a brief email, his assistant Shannon Crist states, Robert moved here for the beautiful weather.

Judy Slack, director of research and development, speaks over the phone for Tom Hopkins. Ms. Slack explains Hopkins had a unique reason for moving to Arizona. It was the home of Hopkins’ mentor, J. Douglas Edwards.

While I would travel 400 miles each way to be mentored by Allen Center in Poway, Calif., Hopkins actually relocated to be near his mentor. Edwards helped Tom learn how to sell, said Slack.

Now, it is time to admit, Larry Winget is not another motivator. He’s the pitbull of personal development. When you’ve branded yourself as the world’s first Marketing Sociologist, you have to appreciate that.

I moved here because of the weather and the travel, Winget said via a voluminous email. Ten years ago when I moved here I lived in Tulsa and was traveling 250 days per years. That's a tough schedule no matter where you live but when weather can be a problem and there are no direct flights unless you are going to Dallas or Chicago, it can add a lot of time and stress to your plans. So I moved to a place where almost every flight is direct and weather is never an issue. I think many people who travel for a living would agree that Phoenix is the best possible place to originate your travel from.

If I were doing public relations for an embattled state, this is how I would utilize marketing sociology. Ringing endorsements like these from people who influence others.