PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: Reporters' hunger for celeb news fed

SUVA, FIJI: The story broke on July 12 in an Australian Associated

Press (AAP) article that answered the prayers of gossip hounds panting

for morsels from the Nicole Kidman/Tom Cruise breakup.



Kidman and (alleged) former flame, macho man du jour Russell Crowe, had

apparently jetted off for some private time in paradise. "They're both

definitely here on Wakaya Island," confirmed Bill Whiting, marketing

director of Fiji's Visitor's Bureau, to the AAP.



So for drawing the world's eyes for an improbably long time to a tiny

and privileged island in the South Pacific, we award Whiting a PR Play

of the Week.



"This would be the biggest publicity that we've ever had as a

destination," Whiting told PRWeek. "It is unique, because normally it

doesn't come out until much later that someone was here."



That is probably because the club's policy is to guard celebrities'

privacy, but no such qualms inhibited Whiting.



The story bounced off the satellites and ran around the world in

minutes.



In just one day, the story got into the UK's Daily Mail, the Calgary

Herald, the Belfast Telegraph, and even a Dow Jones market newswire.



The story might have died there, but Whiting fed the beast with at least

two more tantalizing tidbits this week that kept it spinning.



First, he was eager to quell rumors of any Kidman/Crowe coupling. Then,

an "unnamed" tourism office spokesman (there is only one other person in

the office - and she's a woman) told the Sydney Herald Sun that Tom

Cruise himself had arrived on the island for a visit with his

children.



Kidman and Crowe then flew the coop.



Whiting has also been featured on a number of Australian radio talk

shows, talking about the island's attraction to celebrities and ordinary

folk alike. "The fact is we had 32,000 people come to Fiji last month

and have a nice holiday," he said.



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