Making Waves in PR

They say any publicity is good publicity.

Well… Sometimes that is, in fact, true. PR pros can turn even the worst situation, or a major national/international news headline, into a newsworthy opportunity to position a client front and center in the media and make the public more aware of a client’s name or business.

Case in point: the recent Pacific Ocean tsunami warnings after the devastating Chilean earthquake.

The world watched anxiously as tsunami waves headed toward the Hawaiian Islands and the West Coast of the United States.

As I viewed a webcam video from home of an eerily empty, evacuated Waikiki beach, San Diego Bay was being deluged with a powerful tidal surge, seriously damaging a dock belonging to our well-known restaurant client, the Bali Hai on Shelter Island.

Bali Hai’s owners alerted us of the incident, including a digital photo that demonstrated the destructive force of the sea as it surged back and forth, tearing the dock in two.

With photo in hand, JWalcher Communications notified local TV stations and the San Diego Union-Tribune about how this natural disaster did not leave San Diego unscathed.

CBS News 8 KFMB sent a crew out to shoot video of the splintered dock. And the Union-Tribune interviewed one of Bali Hai’s owners who had an opportunity to not only comment on the $50,000 worth of damage that was caused, but also talk about how the iconic restaurant has been closed since January and is currently undergoing major renovations.

Within 48 hours, the Union-Tribune ran a front page photo of the broken dock, with a caption mentioning the Bali Hai, along with quotes by the owner prominently positioned in the article’s introduction.

We successfully turned bad news into headline news for our client, while simultaneously promoting the renovations of this landmark restaurant and its scheduled spring re-opening.

It doesn’t always work that way, but sometimes you’re able to localize or take advantage of a big news story.

Bali Hai Restaurant's dock, damaged by the powerful tidal surge caused by last month's earthquake in Chile.
Bali Hai Restaurant's dock, damaged by the powerful tidal surge caused by last month's earthquake in Chile.