Weekly analysis of who's doing what and why

A former Los Angeles deputy district attorney who once prosecuted members of the financial establishment has become a darling of the media, thanks to an aggressive media relations campaign conducted by a small New York public relations firm.

Client:The Law Offices of John Lawrence Allen

PR team: LVM Group, Inc.

Campaign: crusading lawyer fights for the 'little guy'

Timescale: Ongoing

Budget: $2,500/month

A former Los Angeles deputy district attorney who once prosecuted members of the financial establishment has become a darling of the media, thanks to an aggressive media relations campaign conducted by a small New York public relations firm.Together, attorney John Lawrence Allen and the LVM Group are scoring major media hits featuring stories of victories won for individuals who sued brokers and investment trusts to recoup their stock market losses.

Now an investor advocate, Allen has successfully gone up against several Wall Street giants, focusing since 1990 on securities litigation and entertainment law.

Through publicizing his courtroom successes, Allen hoped to widen his small but flourishing practice.

Typically, Allen's clients had been 'victimized and put into grossly unsuitable investments,' says Alice Newcomb-Doyle, a member of the account team. Stories of injustice are a natural for the media, and the team targeted both print and TV.

LVM centered on two types of stories: 1) issues and trends related to the client's nationwide securities practice and 2) his potentially newsworthy cases.

Also in the pipeline is a web site, along with continued print and TV exposure.

As a result of the campaign, Allen has been favorably featured in the national print media, such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, as the champion of clients who've had their accounts mishandled by financial firms.

TV interviews with Allen appeared on several shows, including PBS's Nightly Business Report and CNBC's Market Wrap. He was also the subject of a Lycos chat-room event.

Allen has obtained several new cases directly as a result of this exposure, including an arbitration in Boston.

He also had a book published by John Wiley and Sons, Investor Beware!

- How to Protect Your Money From Wall Street's Dirty Tricks.

John Lawrence Allen says it best: 'They've done phenomenally well for me.'

Travel and tourism - A little rain can't sink Puerto Rico

Client: Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC)

PR Team: Hill and Knowlton

Campaign: Back in paradise

Timescale: October - November 1998

Budget: Not available

News reports about Puerto Rico created the misimpression that hotels and other tourist spots had been badly damaged by Hurricane Georges. While many homes were destroyed, and phone and electric service was disrupted on most of the island, major hotels sustained only minor damage, and were fully operational within days.

The Puerto Rico Tourism Company oversees and implements tourism development for the island. It works closely with other government agencies and members of the private sector to increase awareness of Puerto Rico as a tourist destination.

To re-educate the media about Puerto Rico's ability to entertain tourists following the storm and to convince tourists and travel agents that Puerto Rico was ready, willing and able to host them.

The Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC) and Hill and Knowlton, its PR firm, had a hurricane crisis plan prepared and a strong management team in place. H&K's crisis team went immediately to Puerto Rico to observe the situation. The PR plan was designed to counter the misperceptions, get the facts out and report on the situation.

PRTC set up two 800 numbers, one for consumers and one for the industry and travel agents. Each number provided daily updated information on the effects of Hurricane Georges as it became available.

A web site also provided updated hotel and recovery information. PRTC held a press conference at the American Society of Travel Agents convention in Los Angeles to launch the new site.

A separate Puerto Rico web site, weather.com, gave status reports on water, power and air services to and from the island. Hoteliers were also offered a web site for their own updates.

A TV ad campaign was launched featuring noted travel writer Arthur Frommer.

He acted as hurricane spokesperson, and commented about the the island as it recovered from the storm's damage.

The campaign was very effective and corrected a lot of the misperceptions about the damage done to the tourist infrastructure in Puerto Rico. Hotel bookings are expected to continue to grow through Christmas.

PRTC received 4,600 calls in one month from the 800 numbers. In addition, there were 3,952 hits on the web site in a three-week period.

Media coverage was very balanced across the board in newspapers, cable and broadcast TV, and trade publications. Hits included USA Today, Wall Street Journal, NY Times, NY Post, Newsday, CNN, weather channel, WINS radio and New York's WNBC TV Channel 4.

Tourism is bouncing back in Puerto Rico. Says PRTC director Jorge L.

Devila, 'At a worldwide level, the tourism industry is always vulnerable to external factors in different regions. Whether it's forces of nature or political instability, you can measure the quality of a destination by how well it reacts to unpredictable events.

'Puerto Rico was prepared for this storm and we responded promptly and responsibly. The tourism industry in Puerto Rico is recovering rapidly.

I feel that this winter we will receive the thousands of visitors that are always attracted by our Island of Enchantment.'

Product launch - Chip PR fattens P&G bottomline

Client: Procter & Gamble

PR Team: Porter-Novelli, Washington, D.C. for Olestra, and Manning, Selvage& Lee, Chicago, for Pringles

Campaign: Product Launch

Timescale: June 1998

Budget: Not available

Giving consumers what they want, says P&G, is why the company has been so successful with the new Fat-Free Pringles, made with Olestra, its new fat-free, calorie-free cooking oil. P&G started its PR campaign for Olestra right after it was approved by the FDA in 1996. First, the company provided Olestra-related educational information, covering research and the important health benefits of the fat-free substitute to professionals in the food and nutrition areas.

The response from the professionals was generally good because consumer demand for no-fat and low-fat foods is high. The average American eats 22 pounds of salted snacks a year. A one-ounce serving of potato chips fried with Olestra (P&G's brand name is Olean), contains only 75 calories and zero grams of fat vs. 150 calories and 10 grams of fat in regular chips.

The first Olestra snack food product on the market was Frito-Lay's WOW line of Ruffles and Doritos, launched in April 1998. P&G's Pringles followed two months later. In test market cities, P&G's consumer research showed a demand for fat-free foods that tasted better than those currently on the market.

To establish Pringles as the leading fat-free snack brand.

Importantly, 'tasting is believing' was the theme for fat-free Pringles.

Nationally, the brand extension was launched in 20 major markets. Press kits to the media led to newspaper, TV and radio announcements. When the well-known P&G building downtown was bannered to look like a Pringles can, even the local traffic helicopter reporters talked up the event.

Sampling was extremely important in the marketing campaign to achieve consumer trial. In Cincinnati alone, 3,000 cans of Fat-Free Pringles were given away in under 45 minutes.

In a true distribution feat, P&G reported its largest single-day shipment ever, when 20 million cans of Pringles were shipped to retailers on June 15, 1998. 'Nobody wanted to be second,' says Lisa Hulse Jester, manager for food and beverage at P&G. Moreover, Fat-Free Pringles didn't replace any of P&G's products, but instead extended the product line. 'The new brand helped the whole snack category grow. Fat-Free Pringles now represents 25% of our Pringles line,' she adds.

The Fat-Free Pringles launch received strong support from trade customers, says Kathy Rand, managing director of Manning, Selvage & Lee's Chicago office.

According to Information Resources International, Olestra is the most successful new food product launch of the decade. P&G will continue to concentrate on the salty snack category for its next Olestra product.

Already P&G is test marketing some of its newly acquired Eagle Snacks with Olestra in Portland, OR, but 'it's very early in the process,' says Hulse Jester. There are many no-fat pretzels on the market, but most flavored pretzels have fat added because the fat is needed to stick the flavorings onto the pretzel. The new fat-free pretzels are coated and baked and thus, are kept fat-free, she expains.

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