THINKPIECE: Nikon's over-the-top plug for its new camera has put anegative focus on the PR industry

Oh no! Welcome to a new world where public relations people are

going to hear "We are not going to run an ad for your client - call the

sales department" from a long line of television producers now under

pressure.



What caused this pressure? Nikon, when it opened Pandora's box by

hijacking news channels with a blatant plug-a-rama for their new

camera.



Luring the media with Kim Cattrall from Sex and the City is a strong

foundation for a strategy. Her star power guarantees media interest. And

though her popularity with both men and women ensures that she is not

cheap as a spokesperson, she is worth every cent with the media doors

she opens.



So what went wrong? It was a matter of expectations. The media expected

an interview with Cattrall, and in return would make small mention of

the new Nikon camera as their trade-off for having access to a celebrity

interview. It is a tried-and-true strategy. We all play the game. But

Nikon changed the rules. They took over control of the cameras under the

guise of logistics and then obviously briefed Cattrall to plug away

their product.



The result? On the upside, an infomercial for Nikon and some media

controversy as bonus publicity. However, on the downside, a lot of doors

just closed.



These closed doors should just be for Nikon, but instead the whole PR

industry will suffer. Producers have now been told to avoid product

promotion by executive producers who have been instructed from

management. Why?



Because management had already put the pressure on their advertising

sales departments to sell more ads as the economy goes into a low-spend

zone.



PR execs must respect the line between editorial and advertising. The

Nikon incident could have been averted, but control rather than

creativity was used once Cattrall was signed as a spokesperson.



Creativity should have been used to build great TV segments for a

win-win situation. Cattrall could have been commissioned to use the

camera to take a behind-the-scenes look at Sex and the City, shots of a

cast party or her vacation, and then offer various media outlets

different sets of photos, with Cattrall saying that photography is her

greatest passion. She could have had some fun plugging Nikon while

pretending to take a photo of the interviewer or even the viewing

audience.



Instead, the whole PR industry finds itself in damage-control mode.



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