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Balloon Boy – Publicity or Prison?

The Balloon Boy incident that occurred here in Colorado over the last week got me thinking about publicity, what it is, what it isn’t and where did Mr. Heene (the boy’s father) go wrong.

If we define publicity as” one’s deliberate attempt to create or manage the perception the public has of them“, then why was the Heene father so wrong?

First, let’s look at what he did right

  1. He initially created a lot of excitement, noise and buzz as well as concern and fear for the safety of his child.
  2. He created intrigue and mystery over the oddity of the homemade balloon.
  3. He created a controversy over the whereabouts of his son during the ordeal and the family’s intentions behind it.  Where was the balloon boy and why didn’t he answer when called?
  4. He created a debate which led to polls, public opinion, speculation, anger outrage, etc.

So where did he go wrong? If the saying is “any press is good press“, then why do we want to see him sent to prison? Why is he not forgiven for his pathetic behavior like we forgave Paris Hilton for hers (or insert the name of your favorite celebrity here)?

This is where he went wrong

  1. He did not already endear himself to the American people. For most of us, this is our first time hearing of him. We do not have an existing relationship with him.
  2. He used an innocent child. While Paris endangered the safety of others when she got drunk and got behind the wheel of a car, she did not use a child to get drunk nor require a child to drive her.
  3. He cost us all money before the legal battle. He made a false 911 claim, utilizing resources that we pay taxes to support. He used the military and FAA resources, which also cost us as tax payers money. OK, so Paris only cost us money once she got busted.
  4. He diverted life-saving resources away from others and risked the lives of those service people.
  5. He lied to us. Americans hate liars.

Where does that leave us? Well, I’d say the next time you plan to create some publicity for your business, try to include excitement, noise, buzz, intrigue, mystery, controversy and a little debate. Endear yourself or business to your customer. Be responsible and accept responsibility appropriately. Find win-win compensation for those involved. And, whatever you do, remember, “Honesty is the Best Policy!”

Is there anything you would add to this?

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