As public relations officials, we are constantly on the lookout for media opportunities for clients; some even call them “PR stunts.” February 2, aka “Groundhog Day,” is one that is often used by politicians. Everyone wants an end to winter so why not? The politician will get the photo op and even if the hog sees his shadow, it’s still a win right? Well, ask New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio. In 2014, when doing the Groundhog Day event, he dropped Staten Island Chuck. Not a good move. Instead of seeing a shadow, Chuck saw stars. And unfortunately, did not recover. (See links below)
What do we take away from this? First, make sure when you do a special event or media event you are well prepared. Walk through what you have to do. Talk about contingencies and if you are not comfortable with picking up a groundhog, don’t do it. The negative press that will be short term and long term can be problematic.
From a marketing perspective, Groundhog Day is cute and there are certainly campaigns and social media comments that can be used to attract some attention. Groundhog Day is Feb. 2. This year it falls on the first Tuesday of February. Groundhog Day can be a day to actually get your marketing on track. If you have stumbled and have failed with your marketing New Years resolutions, get started again and set your goals for February. You have six weeks till spring (despite what Punxsutawney Phil, Staten Island Chuck and Malverne Mel say).
Need some inspiration and a laugh? Watch Groundhog Day with Bill Murray and directed by the late Harold Ramis. The marketing and life lesson here? Just ask Einstein and his famous quote on the definition of insanity: continuing to do the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Bill Murray’s character in the movie – Phil Conners – is stuck in a day that he is forced to relive over and over and over again. Unbeknownst to him, he is changing what he is doing every day. He may not know why at first, but eventually figures out that he has to change who he is to get the girl. After potentially living the same day over and over for years, he makes the changes and he wakes up on February 3. In marketing we have to adapt and change our messages until they resonate with target audiences. Look at what works and what does not. Make the changes and keep track. Learn from Phil Conners and take Einstein’s advice.