March 9, 2011
Extreme PR At the Top Of the World: How a PR Event Brought a Brand To New Heights — And Left the Event Planner Longing for Sea LevelIn the spotlight this week: Carmelle Druchniak, "Scout Master," Scout PR
It seemed like a great idea: the ultimate pizza delivery to the top of the mountain trademarked as "Home of the World's Worst Weather."
Yes, a great idea for the pizza brand and for my fledgling PR enterprise. What a terrific selling point for potential clients asking if I could be an imaginative, out-of-the-box thinker. Extreme PR? You betcha.
Then reality hit, literally. Wind gusts of up to 70 miles an hour, ice-covered everything, and a wind chill of 35 below zero. This is PR?? How did I get here, wearing three layers of thermal underwear (très alluring for any woman self-conscious about her caboose) and goggles that made me look like a drunken fly boy?
My client, Rustic Crust, headquartered in New Hampshire, is a couple of hours south of Mt. Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast. We're having a heckuva winter, so Rustic CEO Brad Sterl figured, hey, why not drive our wood-fired pizza oven truck to the top and throw a pizza party for the weather-watchers and researchers at the Mt. Washington Observatory?
Swell idea, except the auto road to the top becomes impassable in October (this should have been my first warning), so the only way to the top was by snow tractor (alarm bell #2). I made a few calls, and before we knew it, the trip was on.
The folks at the Observatory were all for this bit of PR derring-do, though, since this first-ever take-out dinner also marked the start of a partnership between the non-profit Observatory and Rustic Crust. What better way to celebrate the new relationship?
In fact, the Observatory crew was a little over the top (badda bing) in obliging us. Before I knew it, my email in-box was stuffed with equipment lists, health waivers (insert alarm bell #3 here), and lots of encouraging words in the days leading up to the 'ascent.'
Being an out-of-shape woman whose snow boots were older than most of my traveling companions, I got serious about preparation. My training regimen included lots of snow shoveling (with the winter we've had, I had plenty to shovel) and a raw-meat diet in the event of a Donner Pass-type scenario. I even made a mental list of my traveling companions, and decided the CEO would be the last on the menu, since he signs my checks. Bad news for the field marketing manager, who'd be the first to go.
Of course, there were other signs. My children were nicer to me as the trip neared, my mother phoned daily with Weather Channel reports, and the local ABC affiliate's evening magazine show bailed on sending a videographer with us. We did luck out with a freelance camera whiz who dazzled us with his techno-gear (suction cup cameras all over the exterior of the snow tractor, for example) and his enthusiasm (the man actually ran part way up the mountain to get better shots). Throw in a snow tractor driver and colorful local named Slim, and we were more than ready to roll.
We also got a little media coverage before we even left, and after we came back, the local TV news ran our footage the night we got back and a few times the next day. We're also hoping for more bounce in the days to come.
As for the product, well, that hardy little band on top of Mt. Washington enjoyed Rustic Crust pizza crusts, sauce, cheese and all the fixins' — as well as the famous American Flatbread, the perfect wood-fired pizza. The food got raves, the CEO was psyched, and everyone agreed the picture perfect weather (despite the cold—it's winter, after all) made it a perfect day.
As for me, well, I have great photos for my scrapbook, and I also took 30 seconds out for a bit of shameless self-promotion for SCOUT, my little PR operation.
Sometimes, it really isn't just a job, but an adventure. We're planning the next extreme pizza delivery, since we're on a roll now. Death Valley is the potential next stop, and so my training regimen will soon begin.
Sticking my head in a heated oven may seem over the top, but then again – I've been there, baby.
Carmelle Druchniak is looking for more mountains to climb, so check her out at SCOUT (www.scout-pr.com) or drop her a line at YourScoutPR@gmail.com. Rustic Crust can be found at www.rusticcrust.com and take the virtual tour of the Mt. Washington Observatory at www.mountwashington.org. Want to see the Great Pizza Expedition? Check out www.tomguilmette.com.