PR Nightmares, Volume One

April 29, 2008

Because my co-workers have set the bar so high here, I decided to go in another direction with today’s post. (And seriously, have you read the rest of the posts on BlogCaster? There’s some great writing and incredible marketing/public relations advice here, just ripe for the taking.)

Anyhow, because the rest of the internet occasionally exists for the sole purpose of giving me potentially shoddy and/or inspired ideas, I did the ol’ “So what’s in the news today?” drive-by, and I came across a few stories that really tickled me. I figured I’d share them with you and we could maybe make a project of this.

The project: Solving the Most Terrifying PR Problems Imaginable. If we all put our heads together, maybe we can devise strategies for helping these poor entities dig out of their undoubtedly huge PR holes. Alternatively, we could just make sophomoric jokes and/or attempt to be more clever than each other.

Our first three contestants:

A Baltimore-area condo whose residents are regularly startled late at night by a jarring explosion of light and sound that no one (not even Lester from The Wire, I would assume) can yet identify.

Imagine owning this condo development:

“The bedroom actually lights up like day,” says Elaine O’Mansky, who lives in the Stevenson Commons condominium building near Beth Tfiloh. “It’s instantaneous and wakes us up out of a very deep sleep.”

She isn’t alone. Barbara Friedman is Homeowner’s Association president for the area.

She was up late one night sweeping her back patio when she heard the boom.

“I hit the deck,” Friedman explained. “It was so loud, I thought I was being shot. I literally hit the deck.”

After she realized she hadn’t been shot, she started emailing other homeowners to see if they heard it too.

“Then my email got flooded because hundreds of people were hearing these noises and thought it was their imagination,” she said.

So how does Stevenson Commons spin its way out of this one? Only the comments section knows!

Then there’s the classic, textbook case of the abandoned U.S. Army minefield that became a beloved drive-in-movie theater and then a notoriously scuzzy flea market that was recently shut down because the state declared the site unsafe for the public because there’s, like, active mines and stuff still on the site. Which is unfortunate for the tiny, neglected borough of Palmyra, N.J., which has big, hopeful, puppy-dog designs on redeveloping the land. So, with a little bit of PR know-how, how do we make this site sound appealing, especially if the state doesn’t eventually step forward and basically pay people to develop there? (Don’t count that option out, of course. This is why we pay taxes, after all.)

And finally, add 9 to 411 and we have Josh Howard. I know Mark Cuban is anxiously awaiting our solid, sage, presumably sober advice with this one.

Let’s see if we can’t save these poor people from themselves, shall we?

Posted by: Joe Paone