CAMPAIGNS: Media Relations

MTV Interactive, MTV’s online division, sponsored a stunt for New Year’s Eve that relocated six young Americans for a week in the bowels of Times Square as a kind of survival squad. Their stay was called the Bunker Project - The Real World meets the end of the world. The task for the PR team was to sell the story to the Y2K-stunt-weary media.

MTV Interactive, MTV’s online division, sponsored a stunt for New Year’s Eve that relocated six young Americans for a week in the bowels of Times Square as a kind of survival squad. Their stay was called the Bunker Project - The Real World meets the end of the world. The task for the PR team was to sell the story to the Y2K-stunt-weary media.

MTV Interactive, MTV’s online division, sponsored a stunt for New

Year’s Eve that relocated six young Americans for a week in the bowels

of Times Square as a kind of survival squad. Their stay was called the

Bunker Project - The Real World meets the end of the world. The task for

the PR team was to sell the story to the Y2K-stunt-weary media.





Strategy



A three-strong press department works to enhance the profile of MTV

Interactive, which is expected to announce an IPO date soon. The

division includes MTV.com, VH-1.com and Sonic Net. The mission was to

engage the media in a project originated by the Web team in order to

distinguish itself from the MTV cable station.



Communications manager, Deirdre McNamara brainstormed with colleagues

Mark Pasetsky and Graham James about potential angles for the print and

TV media, then simply got on the phone and pitched.





Tactics



Working with limited resources, the team opted against producing

expensive press kits and B-roll, but let the strength of the idea speak

for itself.



While McNamara has a media story to tell every day, it was important

that this project generate more attention because of its unusual

nature.



The producers placed an ad in The Village Voice looking for candidates

to take part in a project that would preserve representatives of the MTV

generation should a Y2K disaster eradicate life as we know it. The young

participants, who were actually located in a basement underneath the New

York Times building, received training about survival underground from

US army trainers, who fed them dried meals.



McNamara felt it was important to get the word out about the project

ahead of the candidates being selected. She chose USA Today and got a

small piece in the Lifelines section. ’We really wanted something that

would start the machine rolling,’ says McNamara. From then on, they

bagged a feature in The New York Times’ House and Homes section about

the futuristic design of the basement. Then came an item in the New York

Post’s Page Six wondering how the male-female mixed team would get

on.



McNamara also chose to exploit the local press, pitching one of the

participants to hometown newspaper the Cleveland Plain Dealer and

another to The Stamford Advocate and Newsday. That helped drive interest

from the Associated Press, which then picked up the ball. From then on

the story went global, with The London Evening Standard visiting the

bunker and Agence France Press filing alongside The Sydney Morning

Herald.



NBC’s Today show agreed to do before and after interviews with two of

the participants - dubbed ’bunkernauts.’ Access Hollywood also dedicated

a segment to the piece. The online media also covered the event, with an

unlikely candidate, CBS Marketwatch, picking up the concept.





Results



The result of the coverage drove up traffic. Unique visitors for the

week of January 2, 2000 reached 800,000, pushing the site to the

number-one TV Web site, beating rivals Eonline, Discovery.com and ABC’s

Go.com.





Future



Another New Year’s eve story maybe? ’Er, maybe in a thousand years,’

says McNamara.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in