PR from the Bathroom

15 07 2008

Not quite sure what it is about toilets and PR, but for some reason, some of the more interesting examples of PR seem to come from the lavatory (here too).

Maybe it’s the intimacy of the situation. I’ve said it before, online technology provides the intimacy organizations/groups/etc. seek in creating relationships with strategic publics. What better intimacy than sharing the personal confines of the organizational “throne”…as the Rock Group, Barenaked Ladies, have demonstrated quite well in a new PR campaign on YouTube:

Here, Ed Roberts of the Barenaked Ladies fame, records and distributes through YouTube, low-budget, seemingly webcam quality, songs produced in the bathroom.

Simply Brilliant.

The value of intimacy, sacrificing perfectly honed, crafted, and designed productions in favor of imperfect and seemingly unrehearsed productions in order to relate to publics, is so underappreciated in PR discussions. The producers of The Blair Witch project discovered this value over a decade ago, when they produced a low-budget film that attained cult classic status because of the raw artform it used.

Videos like the one above by BNL represent PR as art, rather than science, and a real understanding of an organization’s public (in this case, the fans, who crave an insider, up-close-and-personal access to the band). This raw viral video form also depicts an organization as human, an organization that makes mistakes…and thus, an organization that is more real (which might entail posting bloopers, which BNL also does on YouTube).

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4 responses

17 07 2008
John

My understanding of PR is that it’s essentially communication that creates positive benefits for oneself. All PR has a selfish motive.

But can’t a gift just be a gift? Isn’t possible for an organization like BNL to communicate with their fans in a way that is unselfish? Can they do art without it being considered PR as well?

As a personal blogger and photographer, I communicate with a group of several thousand people in public semi-regularly. I’m not doing it for profit but I won’t deny that I write in the hope that people will find it interesting and read it. I’m doing art. But is it PR just because it’s public?

Are personal bloggers who claim they aren’t interested in PR fooling themselves? Are there PR techniques they should/could be using that wouldn’t make them feel dirty?

Lots of questions. This article interested me because, while BNL may be motivated by PR in this (maybe), many people do this style of lo-fi art simply for the art. Calling it PR first seems to cheapen it (no offense meant or taken).

17 07 2008
B.G. Smith

Good points John…but I guess what I’m trying to do with this is illustrate the deeper meaning of PR. Too man ypeople see PR based on the lowest denominator: communication to benefit oneself. But the real purpose of PR is to build relationships with audiences to create a win-win situation for both the organization AND the audience (Grunig’s work also known as the Excellence Theory explains this more). In this instance, I don’t view Ed’s posting of these videos as selfish PR, but as yet another effort to reach its fan base and create a relationship with fans.

In short, PR is defined by your purposes. If you seek to build a good relationship with your public (thus “public relations” ) then it’s good PR. Many things taken as PR these days (cheap promotions and publicity) are actually marketing communications.

Relating specifically to your personal bloggers question: yes, I think personal bloggers who claim they aren’t interested in PR might be fooling themselves, but only fooling themselves on the “definition” of PR. If they’re trying to relate with their readers to build a good relationship…then they’re engaging in public relations, which may not feel at all like the PR that most people associate the term with. As for “clean” techniques at PR…it’s simple. Listen and respond. That’s the simplest of PR techniques if you see it as building relationships with readers.

Sorry…long answer…but I’ll further illustrate what PR really is in my next post.

17 07 2008
John

Thanks for that. I like the idea that it can be win-win. Looking forward to your next post.

20 03 2009
Say it ain’t So Steve « This Indie Life

[…] know about their latest 4-man show.  I’ve met them once at a concert, and I often use their Bathroom Sessions as classroom fodder for my PR courses…but I guess they thought it was important to reach out to me..Wait…you got the email […]

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