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Breaking Bad Good for PR

Invariably it seems about 95% or more of my students in my INTRODUCTION TO PUBLIC RELATIONS class at Loyola University have NO interest or intention to pursue PR as a career.
So, why are they taking the class?
When I ask this question, I get the usual college-student-1000-yard-stare which can be translated in a variety of ways, but mainly, “Um, cuz someone told me the class wasn’t too hard and I need the credits.”
Well, as a Baltimore journalist-icon once told me, sometimes one must make chicken salad out of chicken…well, you know…so faced with a room full of young people who really have no intrinsic interest in what I’m going to be babbling on about for 13+ weeks, I take a particular tact designed to achieve the aforementioned desired outcome.
That is, I attempt to find ways to show my students that the skills we discuss in class have applications to any field they may find themselves in. The basis of effective PR is good writing and communication skills, and you need those whether you’re the spokesperson for Google or if you are running a corner hot-dog stand.
All this came to mind recently while paging through the Oct. 4-10, 2013 issue of The Baltimore Business Journal. On page 13, I came across Jaclyn Borowski’s “BUSINESSLENS” feature, a primarily picture-page with some copy, examining a local small Baltimore business…in this case, a Hampden ice cream shop called THE CREAMERY.
The Creamery is the idea of husband and wife team David and Laura Alima. I first connected with David through his work as one-time marketing director for The Everyman Theater; Laura, through her work with Chef’s Expressions catering (Laura is a past guest speaker to my PR class).
There’s little doubt that the Alimas have had success using their PR and marketing know-how to promote their business.
The article, first off, is evidence of that—a nice full-page spread with COLOR photos in a prominent local publication. And then you have the content itself.
In my class, we talk about how Henry Ford (yes, that Henry Ford, the car guy), helped pioneer the PR concept of POSITIONING. Be the first to do something, and you’ll get attention. The Alimas have taken this philosophy to heart, not by opening an ice cream shop (gosh knows, that’s not an original idea), but in terms of their product.
As the BBJ article relates, “They (the Alimas) route their flavors frequently and work to incorporate elements that are uniquely Baltimore, including pickles and Old Bay (seasoning).”
Chances are you’re not going to find too many ice cream or frozen yogurt shops that feature pickles and that staple of Maryland crab lovers, Old Bay seasoning.
Secondly, the Alimas understand the importance of knowing what’s TRENDING, what’s got “buzz” in major media circles. Well, there was enormous buzz in these past weeks about the final episodes of the Vince Gilligan hit drama series, “Breaking Bad,” the story of how a dying high school chemistry teacher decides to cook and sell crystal meth—a signature “blue” variety of his own making—to leave something behind for his family. And if you’ve been following what’s trending lately and are fan of fantastic TV, you already know this.
Anyway, the Alimas, just BEFORE the Sept. 29th series finale of “Breaking Bad” – another PR hallmark, the importance of TIMING! – unveiled a bluish-white confectionary concoction made from “mocha…a type of Japanese rice cake that can be colored and flavored…(and) Tahitian vanilla ice cream. The result? Clearly “evocative of the signature blue crystal meth that figures heavily in the plot line of ‘Breaking Bad’…”
Very cool…literally and figuratively. So, if your goal is to open your business, whether that business is an ice cream shop or a garage or a sports car dealership or whatever, it’s a good idea to know some basic PR rules. Does that make me the Heisenberg of PR? You decide…