PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: Art center wins big press with $150 raffle

LOS ANGELES: How much would you pay for an ocean-view mansion in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in southern California? How about $150?

LOS ANGELES: How much would you pay for an ocean-view mansion in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in southern California? How about $150?

Last week, the Palos Verdes Art Center (PVAC), a community organization offering art classes and exhibits of local artists in its tony enclave south of LA, held a raffle with the grand prize of a 3,250-square-foot home valued at $1.17 million. The prospect of winning the three-bedroom, two-bathroom house in one of the US' hottest real-estate markets sparked not only the sale of 16,000 tickets at $150 a piece to hopefuls as far away as the Virgin Islands, but also major media coverage that raised the PVAC's profile to a national level. While SoCal newspapers and TV broadcasters have covered the raffle since it's announcement this spring, the story began to make national headlines as the drawing drew closer. By last week, the innovative fundraiser had made national outlets, including NBC's Today show. "It was one of those ideas that came at the right time,'' PVAC executive director Robert Yassin told the AP. "My board, with great courage, agreed to give it a shot, and it turned out to be a great success.'' The final drawing drew numerous TV cameras and other media, as a local businessman who had bought two tickets won the luxury home. Images of his sister screaming, "John! John! You won the house" into her cell phone as she informed her lucky sibling blanketed the evening news, and added to the colorful coverage in papers including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Kansas City Star. While the PVAC took in upwards of $750,000 according to reports, the real payoff may come in the future. Yassin says he's already planning a second dream-home raffle, and the intense press coverage assures that finding ticket buyers for the next drawing shouldn't be a problem.

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