Dalai Lama's East Coast tour posed media difficulties

NEW YORK: With a massive turnout wherever he speaks, it seems the Dalai Lama wouldn't need much of a publicity effort. But maintaining the media's interest in the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader yielded a set of PR challenges on his recent trips to Boston and New York City.

NEW YORK: With a massive turnout wherever he speaks, it seems the Dalai Lama wouldn't need much of a publicity effort. But maintaining the media's interest in the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader yielded a set of PR challenges on his recent trips to Boston and New York City.

"The Dalai Lama doesn't talk on the telephone or do advance interviews, so the challenge is getting the media's attention without interview subjects," said Josh Baran, a PR consultant who worked for the organizations that sponsored the east coast visit, which was part of a five-city tour.

The remedy for this problem was getting a Boston Globe reporter to visit the Dalai Lama during his visit to Bloomington, IA, as well as getting an avalanche of coverage of his attendance at a conference on meditation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Dalai Lama took part in only four one-on-one interviews - two with the AP, and one each with The New York Times and the Boston Globe - but it was the open press conferences that attracted hundreds of journalists.

During his appearance in New York's Central Park, 45 PR volunteers, many from large agencies, helped handle the media attention.

"Our goal in New York was to make everyone aware of the Central Park event because it was a free venue," Baran said. "We couldn't afford much advertising, so we depended a lot on free media."

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