With e-commerce in question, the market hanging at a yearly low, and some “bad numbers” about to be released, Amazon.com wanted to create some positive news to deflect attention away from The Street and to prove that its CEO Jeff Bezos is indeed a visionary with a sense of humor. While at it, Amazon also wanted to shed a little light on its Honor System, a program that helps smaller sites collect money from readers.
To do so, RLM constructed a barbecue, hosted by Honor System devotee Modern Humorist that featured the grilling skills of Bezos himself.
The barbecue—the first announcement-free press event in Amazon.com’s history—encouraged scores of left-of-center, feel-good articles placing the mega retailer square in the center of success.
Counter to what the PR handbook preaches, RLM knows that the summer, especially July, is the perfect time to grab media attention with tactful happenings.
Expecting many to consider the barbecue a hoax or another Modern Humorist prank, RLM orchestrated a handful of pre-barbecue placements in the mainstream press. Starting with the most widely distributed US daily USA Today, a week prior to the festivities, RLM got the buzz swirling about the barbecue with an item describing what was to take place. From there, RLM positioned the barbecue in The New York Observer’s weekly guide, the AP Daybook and even organized a glowing feature story to run in The New York Times the morning of the event.
A good event needs to be a bit exclusive. RLM invited the best and brightest financial, business and cultural journalists the nation had to offer to the Bezos barbecue, and they all jumped at the opportunity. Syndicated network crews were among the attendees, ensuring that the coverage continued to spread well beyond New York (and the US).
The barbecue was one of the most successful events Amazon.com had ever pulled off. More than 100 journalists attended from US News & World Report, Time, Newsweek, BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal, US Weekly, Fast Company, New York Daily News, Money, Fortune, Forbes, MSNBC, CNN, TechTV, ZDNet, Bloomberg TV, Associated Press and Reuters.
CNBC’s “Power Lunch” aired live from the barbecue, and the story on the cover of the International Herald Tribune and The New York Times, Forbes, Fortune, New York Magazine, Seattle Post Intelligencer, New York Post, TechTV, InformationWeek, USA Today, The New York Observer, Associated Press, The London Free Press, Boston Globe and Tokyo TV to name a few. The week following the barbecue, Amazon.com posted its quarterly earnings and conceded that the positive media hype around the event improved the atmosphere for its announcement!