Is Any Publicity Good Publicity? Ask this Calgary radio station…..

Did you hear about the publicity stunt of AMP Radio in Calgary, Alberta?  The radio station asked listeners to vote on whether they should #bank $5,000 or #burn $5,000.  If listeners voted to bank the money, one of their names would be drawn to win the money.  If not, the money would be incinerated.  Well, as the promotion came to an end, 54% of listeners voted to burn the money….and that’s exactly what the radio station did!

The PR stunt has received a lot of heat from the community.  Many people are upset that the money wasn’t distributed to some of Calgary’s many worthwhile charities.  The radio station has defended their decision and in one interview the morning show host said the promotion achieved exactly what it was meant to do….get people talking about them!

The story got me thinking about whether any publicity is good publicity.  We’ve all heard the phrase before, but what impact does it have on your reputation over time?  Of course, we are talking and writing about the radio station now (mostly negative), but in a few weeks when the hype is over, what will the sentiment be – especially from the station’s key stakeholders, its advertisers and listeners.

Anyone in Public Relations knows that the start of any good campaign begins with research and clear objectives.  Was the station in tune with their listeners, did they have a good understanding of what money means to those listeners and to the many businesses that purchase advertising on their station?  Did the stunt align with their stakeholder beliefs?  I don’t believe it did.

If the objective was purely to get attention, then they’ve done that.  But I’m afraid that won’t lead to the financial results they were hoping to achieve in the long run – which is essentially the driver of any public relations campaign.  I suspect some advertisers will take their marketing dollars elsewhere and many listeners will tune into a different station.   Sure the station may gain some new listeners, but they will be forced to continuously come up with ways to top the last promotion, always looking to be edgier and over the top.  This itself can be a daunting and financially draining task.

In public relations, reputation is everything!

So what do you think of AMP Radio now?

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