Two weeks ago, I walked into my NYU classroom. Sitting on the desk was a package, wrapped in a FedEx envelope with a rubber band around it. There was a small note with my name and classroom number. When I first looked at the package, I thought to myself, “Suspicious.” You may be asking, “Why?” but I won’t get into the details of the notes, packages and information people have left for me in the past.
When I opened the package, there was a VHS tape inside with a sticky note that said, “No VCR Player? PlayVHS.com.” Hmmm… the plot was thickening. What would you do … pop the tape in for 35 graduate students to view with you, or go to the NYU help desk to find out who delivered this curious package? Well, I took the latter approach and marched up to the help desk. The conversation didn’t get me very far because the guard there simply explained that she received the package from my department. It was unknown who wanted me to view this tape.
I didn’t play the tape that night but shared the story with my husband when I got home and then we checked out the website together. You can also check out the video at playvhs.com. After we watched, we had a good laugh. Because someone wanted me to watch this tape with my students, I ended up sharing the story with them too. We watched the video the following week.
So the story goes … It ends up that the video is a parody about entrepreneurs “getting stuck in the 80s,” created by a company called Grasshopper. So, my question to you is, “Does the PR stunt work or was it a wasted effort? It’s tough to say. Because of the times we live in … unfortunately, everything looks suspicious and can cause concern, especially if it’s received unexpectedly and you don’t know the sender. On the other hand, in this particular instance, I ended up sharing the video with the intended audience. I’m also sharing this blog post, so you could call it a win.
In an age of influence marketing, building a relationship first may have led not only to sharing the video but also to a stronger endorsement. So, when you plan your next PR stunt … think it through carefully. Is it worth the effort or just a waste of time? I’ll let you all weigh in on the subject.