When I see good public relations campaigns, I always compliment the source. Especially when there is a campaign that combines my love of public relations with my bowling.
Recently, Star Lanes at Polaris in Columbus, Ohio opened its doors to the public. I’d been wondering about the place since I saw a coming soon sign a few months ago. However, when I asked the local bowling center owners I know about the place they all informed me that it wasn’t really a competition. It would be one of those small bowling centers that host corporate and casual parties. They rarely offer leagues and make profit on open bowling. As a competitive bowler, I realize I’m not exactly the audience for the center but I support them because they grow the sport. If one person goes bowling on a Friday night and leaves loving the game then it’s a good night for bowling!
In March, my dad forwarded me an invite he received to the VIP Grand Opening Party to preview Star Lanes. Neither of my parents bowls competitively. My dad bowls purely recreationally every few years but thought I’d be interested to go as his guest. My classes, internships, PRSSA and mentor encourage me to think like a PR pro. I thought the VIP Party was a brilliant idea to create awareness and buzz for this new entertainment outlet.
As I continued to read the email I found that the signature, which I thought would be from Star Lanes, was from Fahlgren Mortine. I’ve admired this agency for their work since their rebrand. I bet you have too and you didn’t even realize it. Have you been on the Greater Columbus Sports Commission’s website recently? No, maybe you’ve seen the McDonalds Nocturnivore ads. These both are award-winning campaigns from Fahlgren.
It wasn’t surprising to me that Fahlgren chose a VIP party/sneak peak to encourage discussion of Star Lanes. Last autumn I took my capstone campaign class at Ohio State and my team created a plan with a VIP party for our mock client. It’s a rather inexpensive way to gain loyal brand users. Thoughts about audience, messaging, objectives, strategies, tactics and budget were running through my mind as I read through the email.
Over the next few days, I was obsessed with any piece of information I could find about Star Lanes and Fahlgren’s campaign because it combined my passions. I watched as Star Lanes was featured on the local news stations. I imagined the media pitches written about the event. I thought about the PR pros behind the scenes who were responsible for the event. I imagined the meetings and discussions that the agency for Star Lanes and their other clients. I know it’s just a normal day at the agency.
My bowling coach, Paul Brown, and his wife earned tickets to the VIP event because a friend couldn’t use the passes. Their reactions were especially interesting because I don’t believe they are the target audience. Most of the bowlers in attendance that night received tickets as gifts from the original recipient. Even my ticket was forwarded to me from my dad.
What happened next is what made this campaign a success. The Browns and the other competitive bowlers posted on their Facebook during and after the event. Pictures of Star Lanes and positive comments about the night streamed through my newsfeed.
The next morning Brown called me and talked for thirty minutes about how fantastic the center was. He described the big screen televisions, the events that were coming up such as; Ohio State football screening parties and AMA fights, the taste of the food, the wonderful employees, the names of the drinks and the photo booth. Everything he said was in full detail like someone was telling him to read from a script. He also told me a story about how he was discussing our annual Bowl for a Cure event with the manager that was set to happen that weekend. The representatives at Star Lanes generously donated a free party to give away as a silent auction prize at Bowl for a Cure.
Brown’s excitement was free public relations for Star Lanes. I imagined the effort done behind the scenes at Fahlgren to make it such a perfect event. I’m even helping promote the center but writing this blog post. This was PR done well.
I’m excited to be part of PR campaigns and the process that makes them happen. I hope that I’ll learn more about the Star Lanes campaign and other successful plans from those who organize them.
Do you have another example of a successful advertising or public relations campaign?