Thursday 30 August 2007

20 minutes of fame - Andy Warhol's 15 minutes goes into Caribana overtime

I have just finished -- well almost, there is still that horrendously long media report to complete -- a very successful campaign in promoting the Caribana Festival in Toronto. This is the fifth time in 10 years I have worked on Caribana. The parade attracted over a million spectators and aside from one "accident" was incident free. I don't have to explain what Caribana is because chances are, anyone looking at this Blog, no matter where they live, will know what it is (we did that good a job).

Even without a clipping service, my clipping file is huge -- 750 seperate media stories about the parade and the many other Caribana events that were held during the Festival. Myself and my four associates got Caribana positive coverage in every major media outlet in Toronto and in/on most English language media outlets across Canada. We also go break through coverage in Buffalo, Chicago and Trinidad thanks to the help of Metro Toronto Tourism.

So how good was it? I use a very publicist-generous formula to evaluate the worth of a campaign. In the case of Caribana I look at the size or length of the news story or clipping or web piece and figure out, using the outlet's ad buy rate, how much that item would have cost Caribana to purchase. I then multiply it by the number of times that that item appeared (some of the TV stations ran clips six times before retiring them). I then multiply that figure by a factor of 4. The quading of the figure is to add a value that recognizes that readers / viewers / listeners are four times more likely to believe a positive news item then they are to look at a similiar sized advertisement.

Some of the TV stations did morning long remotes from our events. CITY TV has an ad rate of $2,400 per 30 seconds for its highly rated morning Breakfast TV show. Multiply that ad rate by two hours and then again by the PR factor of four and it doesn't take long before coverage, from just that one station, is in the millions. Although it has no real meaning, I estimate that this year's positive coverage of the month long Caribana Festival in Toronto garnered a PR value in excess of $30 million.

Of course not all that PR is a direct result of my team's work. Caribana's marketing team did quite a bit, so did various groups around town and of course, there was just a large province-wide interest in the festival that didn't need any PR stoking to get coverage.

With such dramatic PR results one would expect a happy customer. No so. The festival has been over for almost a month. I am owed a bundle. No one is talking to me or indicating if and when I get paid. My contract is simply emailed notes between the festival COO and myself. I have put out more in wages than I have collected. I am too frightened to open my Visa bill, my Mastercard statement or my Amex (the true funders of the PR efforts of Caribana). I pride myself in getting people that extra five minutes of fame. Gotta work harder on getting my invoices paid.

Tonight is recycling night. Might go out and look for returnable empties (price of gas just went up) ... not kidding. Taking it on the chin and in the wallet for a parade. Sigh.

Over the next few weeks I will be talking about the positive promotion of Caribana. The good. The bad. And a rant about SEAN PAUL.

photograph - I took this picture of myself while I was talking on the phone to Diver Magazine in Vancouver. This was during the Launch of the Parade at Toronto's city hall. The magazine wanted to know if I was goofing off - asked these three Mas dancers to help them show the magazine I was busy.