How Our Client’s Boxers Got on the ‘Today’ Show
They say you can’t win if you don’t get out there and play. That’s as true for public relations as it is for the lottery.
Winning the lottery, though, is all chance (lucky numbers notwithstanding). Striking a chord with your PR campaign is more about timing, having a message that resonates, and knowing how to pitch it to the media.
There is, however, that small element of luck that makes hitting a PR jackpot a lot like winning the lottery.
It happened this week at EMSI.
Yes, that was our underwear – OK, our client’s -being fondled by Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford on the Today show Tuesday morning.
TUKZ boxer briefs, with “clever” (as Hoda noted) clips to keep a man’s shirttails neatly tucked, are the brainchild of Darnell Jones, a surgical supplies salesman who launched his innovative underwear earlier this year. It’s Darnell’s first product and, while he says he doesn’t know a lot about PR, he does know one very important tenet:
“I wanted to get the word out,” he says. “I think TUKZ are one of the greatest ideas, but if no one knows about them, they’re only as good as the thought in my mind or the product in a warehouse.”
How Darnell’s print media campaign – targeting newspapers, magazines and online news sites — turned into a spot on a top-rated national network TV show is classic PR. So, of course, I want to share!
We launched Darnell’s campaign Aug. 31 with an article quoting him on trends in men’s fashion undergarments. That piece was published by Examiner.com and later resulted in an interview with an Examiner reporter — and a second story. Another big hit was a mention and photo on Thrilllist.com.
On Sept. 7, our Print Campaign Manager Ginny Grimsley took her next action step: inviting fashion editors and other interested journalists to request a sample product for review. This resulted in a number of requests, including more than 30 from prominent publications, including national magazines Nylon Guys and SPIN.
On Oct. 9, she launched the third volley of the campaign: distribution of a straightforward article about TUKZ, including how Darnell came up with the idea and why. This one caught the eye of fashion blogger Bobbie Thomas of Bobbie.com – a regular contributor to “Today” – whose assistant emailed Ginny the next day.
“We would love to feature TUKZ in an upcoming segment of ‘Today,'” she wrote, and asked for samples.
Ginny mailed out boxer briefs in several sizes and was told she’d be notified when they were scheduled to be featured.
Fast forward to Tuesday morning – five weeks later. Darnell awakens to an unprecedented number of orders for his boxer briefs.
“That was odd,” he says. “I couldn’t figure it out.”
The orders kept coming, and Darnell kept puzzling over them. Finally, his mother telephoned.
“She said, ‘Your cousin in Colorado called and said, ‘I saw Darnell’s underwear on the ‘Today’ show!'”
TUKZ was among the products Bobbie showcased in a segment titled, “Things That Make You Go Hmm.” Hoda said they would have been useful during a recent “plumber crack” flash, and Bobbie even held them up to her waist and danced a little jig.
One of the takeaways from this story, Ginny says, is the need for patience when you’re marketing.
“Journalists will sometimes hold onto things for a long time, sometimes more than a year,” she says. “If you send out a pitch or a product, don’t give up if you don’t see an immediate response. But you do need to respond to all requests very quickly. It’s often ‘hurry up and wait.'”
Darnell’s story also speaks to the growing visibility of bloggers. Remember, it was book bloggers who turned “Fifty Shades of Grey” into an international best-seller.
Finally, several people have asked me, “How much are you billing that client for being on ‘Today’?”
The answer is … nothing.
We charge a simple flat rate for our print campaigns. The reason? We want everyone to hold out hope they’ll hit the jackpot – and we want to work to make it happen for them. We don’t want them to worry about whether they can afford a great hit.
Because, honestly? That’s no fun for us.
Marsha Friedman launched EMS Incorporated in 1990. Her firm represents corporations and experts in a wide array of fields such as business, health, food, lifestyle, politics, finance, law, sports and entertainment. She consults individuals and businesses on a daily basis and is frequently asked to speak at conferences about how to harness the power of publicity.