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You are here: Home » The Marketing Diary » Marketing Stories » George Bush and the Parachute PR Stunt

February 17, 2005

George Bush and the Parachute PR Stunt

Media publicity is one of the essential marketing tools that can, when correctly used, generate valuable free promotion for any company, person, product or event. Just imagine what getting national coverage for no or little cost would mean for you?

However, not everything will get you the attention of the media you crave. In fact, it must be something extraordinary, something special, and different.

News reporters must perceive it as something of value for their audiences. And most importantly, the generated publicity should eventually lead you to the business goal of your desire, whatever that is.

When Dan Poynter wanted to promote the Parachute Industry Association's International Parachute Symposium in 1997 in the US, he enlisted the help of a local Houston publicist Linda Credeur. Joe Vitale, the marketing expert and her coach, describes Linda Credeur as "someone much attuned to media needs and media opportunities".

But publicizing an event on a national scale in the US is not something easily done, especially on a somewhat low budget. Naturally, it takes something dramatic to turn the usual boredom of trade shows in to an event that the media fights for.

Linda proved to be worth her reputation one day when she heard Dan Poynter say that George Bush was the only USA President to ever parachute ? and the rest is history.

She immediately suggested inviting George Bush to the convention and even giving him an award.

The fact that the former USA President charges tens of thousands of Dollars to give a speech didn't stop her. Within a day she found someone who knew Bush and made initial contact.

It turns out Bush's first and only parachute jump, while bailing from a wrecked plane during World War II was not a pleasant memory and he wanted to bring closure to the ghosts of his past. His only condition was jumping with a parachute just like the one he used in 1944. No problem, Dan's team got that covered practically overnight.

And then it actually happened - George Bush, the former USA President, at the age of 73, parachuted to the PIA's Symposium - as part of a carefully executed PR stunt.

The media jumped at it, covered it for a full week and put the otherwise mediocre trade convention on the map.

Four news crews covered the event and the entire parachuting industry had been jazzed all month. Not only did they achieve great media coverage for the event itself, they again raised the interest in parachuting as well.

This was the PR stunt that made history!

Story shared by Joe Vitale

Lessons to be Learned

a] Any event can be made media friendly with some creativity, hard work and courage.

b] There are marketing opportunities everywhere, you just need to discover them and keep an open mind.

c] PR doesn't have to be expensive - if you have the creativity it takes to replace large amounts of money.

d] Celebrities will bring additional public interest for an event, even if the even ordinarily attracts only more niche audiences.

e] Getting a celebrity to help doesn't need to involve thousands of Dollars - every person has their own triggers you can use to get their interest and help. Do your research and don't be afraid to make initial contact.

f] Any person can be reached using the right approach.

g] There are two types of publicity: publicity that leads you to realize your goals and publicity that in fact does nothing for you. Which would you rather utilize?

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