PR Play of the Week: If you can't beat em, you buy em

Although research and planning are the cornerstones of any effective communications program, there's still something to be said for good, old-fashioned seat-of-the-pants PR.

Although research and planning are the cornerstones of any effective communications program, there's still something to be said for good, old-fashioned seat-of-the-pants PR.

Although research and planning are the cornerstones of any effective communications program, there's still something to be said for good, old-fashioned seat-of-the-pants PR.

On Wednesday, September 13, while braving the commute home from his job in Silicon Valley as a division VP at Microsoft's WebTV Networks, Joe Poletto happened upon an opportunity to win goodwill in the local community and score some positive publicity for the much-maligned software giant.

The exec had tuned in to a radio show discussing the fact that the local football team, the Oakland Raiders, had not had a televised game in the Bay Area in three years because of an NFL-imposed blackout on local telecasts for home games where seats were not filled by kick-off. The hosts were predicting a similar fate for the coming weekend's game against top-ranked Denver Broncos. Poletto's idea? Have WebTV buy the remaining seats to ensure the black-out would be lifted.

The next morning, Poletto presented the idea to the in-house PR team. 'We're all sports fans here, and we thought it would be a home run,' said corporate communications exec Tim McDowd.

By Friday morning the team had announced to a press conference that Web TV would be giving the tickets away to youths involved with the Oakland Parks & Recreation program.

WebTV then issued a media alert announcing the company's guarantee that the Raiders-Broncos game would be seen on local CBS affiliate, KPIX, that Sunday.

Buying the tickets cost around dollars 77,000, but the coverage was extensive and immediate. The announcement made all local TV and radio broadcasts of Friday's evening news and clips landing in the San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune and Sacramento Bee.

Sounds like a touchdown.



Nominations for PR Play of the Week should be sent to news@prweekus.com.



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