PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: Stern makes the correct publicity call

When Howard Stern calls himself "The King of All Media," he's referring to a time in the late 1990s when he simultaneously dominated radio, books, television, and film.

When Howard Stern calls himself "The King of All Media," he's referring to a time in the late 1990s when he simultaneously dominated radio, books, television, and film.

But from our point of view, Stern will always be the media king for another reason: He gets the coverage he wants without ever putting himself at the mercy of the press. Whether he's donning a dress to promote his book or running for governor of New York to promote, well, himself, the radio shock jock doesn't seek his coverage so much as dictate it. He never talks to reporters, and even mocks those who call seeking comment. (All the comment you want from him is available, without an appointment, on the radio, he likes to point out). Fact is, the man never puts himself in a media situation over which he has less than total control - something most PR folks can only dream of (unless you work in the White House). So it shouldn't have surprised anyone last week when Stern ambushed his nemesis, FCC chairman Michael Powell, on a regional radio call-in show. There was something poetic about Stern putting himself on the other side of the call-in format to confront his bully. And what better forum for Stern to vent his complaints about the arbitrary nature of decency enforcement? The timing was no mistake, either. Stern needs all the press he can get these days as he prepares to leave public radio for subscription-only Sirius. The 10-minute phone call was both utterly on-message (focusing on Stern's reasons for leaving FM radio) and aggressively in-character. Consider this Stern's first foray into Sirius PR. Ratings: 1. Clueless 2. Ill-advised 3. On the right track 4. Savvy 5. Ingenious

  • Douglas Quenqua writes PR Play of the Week. He is PRWeek's news editor.
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