I was busily creating some concepts for a Mandatum PR client in the professional services sector just recently. In a break, I casually switched on the TV set and, as it was just after lunch, Loose Women was on TV.
Four “celeb” women involved in deep debate about the important issues of the day
OK, deep debate might be a little bit pushing it and so I was about to switch it off – but then Alice Cooper came on as a guest.
Alice Cooper? The shock rock star who enraged right-thinking people the world over in the 70s? The Alice Cooper whose stage show involved beheadings, blood, swords, electric chairs and snakes?
The very same Alice Cooper who was once at the end of a campaign by Mary Whitehouse and an MP to get him banned from the UK in the early 1970s because of his reputation?
On daytime TV? Talking about golf? Yep, that’s the chap. Now, I’ll be honest, I quite like some of Alice Cooper’s music (I might have a box set or two) and I get the fact that his act is a lot of theatre.
Vincent Furnier (to give him his real name) himself admits to having found it difficult in the past to leave his character on stage but that his reputation for being a wild man of rock wasn’t always justified.
And it occurred to me as I watched that programme that Alice Cooper might be able to teach people about PR.
About PR? Really? The PR stuff like what Mandatum PR does?
Why? Well, PR is about reputation and Alice Cooper’s reputation as a hell-raiser has completely changed over the years and he is now more likely to be found in a magazine programme talking about golf and god than being found drunk and dazed.
How has he done this? How has he achieved a rehabilitation of his reputation? I believe he has adhered to some key principles of PR.
The right messages He clearly has the same messages that he has been ramming home in recent years. Look at a couple of interviews and he generally talks about his golf and his clean-living way of life. He talks about how his bad reputation may have been built up by the press, but to emphasise his character of modern times he talks about some of the bad times too. He’s got a story to tell.
The right media He appears in interviews in a range of titles but he’s in mainstream TV and national newspapers. He has built his new-found reputation – and perhaps acceptance – by appearing in titles other than the rock ‘n’ roll or heavy metal publications that you would normally associate with him and his music.
The right stories There aren’t media stories in the negative about Alice Cooper any more. You’re unlikely to come across torrid pictures of a completely wasted fading rock star on bad times – you’re more likely to find him pictured on the golf course.
The commercial reasons If you look at it with a commercial sense, rather than any artistic purpose, the act Alice Cooper still needs to bring in the cash – so interviews are the way to spread information about shows and music. For example, this lengthy item from The Mirror has a footnote:
The Alice Cooper Box Set is out June 20, and Alice Cooper’s Halloween Night Of Fear tour hits the UK October 25-31. Tickets from Livenation.co.uk
He keeps on doing it As the appearance on my lunchtime viewing shows, he pops up quite regularly. There’s a consistency to what he does. In PR, you’re unlikely to build your reputation by carrying out one piece of PR. It has to be built up by creating a constant stream of good PR communications.
So, you can definitely learn about PR from books, and from experience, from colleagues and brands, but I also think you can learn from people like Vincent Furnier.
Who do you think you can learn PR lessons from? Do share …
PS. This blog post was inspired by something I saw on a post by Copyblogger about putting two subjects together that perhaps one normally wouldn’t think of. Well worth a read.