The New Next: Going Buzz One Better


Nobody is a stranger to words like "buzz" and "viral" anymore - media guys, ad guys and digital experience guys are all thinking about how to get people talking with their ideas, but PR is where it all started: That's their stock-in-trade.

>>Halo 3 Launch: The release of new gaming consoles by both Sony and Nintendo made the thought of Microsoft's upcoming Halo 3 Xbox launch a worrisome one. However, PR giant Edelman successfully created hype around the video game that catapulted it to success. Before its release, a multi-player beta version of the game was released to the public. This, along with a supporting media strategy to perpetuate buzz, drove anticipation all the way to the video game's midnight release. News cameras flocked to hundreds-long lines in places like a Best Buy in New York City, where huge television screens broadcasted celebrities battling each other in Halo 3 just inside the stores. Ultimately, the hype generated by the campaign culminated in the biggest one-day launch in U.S. history.

>> Blue Planet Run: Blue Planet Run was a 95-day relay race in which 20 runners covered over 15,000 miles across Europe, Asia and North America to raise awareness of the world's safe-drinking-water crisis. Small PR firm Kaplow sought to promote the race and appeal to potential sponsors. After a UN-hosted launch in London, the twenty "global messengers" set off, raising awareness of the cause along the way; an outreach campaign was launched in each country visited, securing visibility with international media, and the campaign succeeded in raising awareness of the cause on a massive global scale.

>>Into the Fire: The Fireman's Fund Insurance Company (FFIC) has a philanthropy program that funds fire departments and service organizations through donation-facilitated grants. PR firm Ketchum's solution to low awareness levels among potential donors was in the form of a documentary called Into the Fire. An award-winning director and a partnership with the History Channel helped the film raise awareness of fire departments' underfunding. Millions tuned into the debut and hundreds attended the Hollywood premiere; an emotional bond was immediately formed once viewers began learning about the trying and emotional situations faced daily from firefighters' points of view; in the end the film exceeded FFIC's objectives by 71 percent.

Sometimes we can be guilty of living within our own worlds and vacuums. Take it from PR executive Steve Rubel, though: "Everything is a press release, even if it's not formatted that way." If you took the PR stamp away from these three campaigns, it would be hard to tell the difference between them and our own work. It's fantastic to see how much our related worlds are merging together more and more. Interdisciplinary ideas are a great thing, but the art is integrating them in a smart way.

Written by Johanna Beyenbach, curated by Paul Woolmington, partner, Naked Communications. (,

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