Monday, December 29, 2008

Four reasons Peter Shankman is a genius

It's ridiculous to even infer that there is any limit to Peter Shankman's brilliance. For full disclosure, not he's not paying me. I'm not a long-lost relative. And I'm not a personal friend.

But I am a fan. A big fan.

For those of you who were online late last week, you know @skydiver held giveways literally every 10 minutes for those unfortunate souls stuck in the office on Christmas and the day after Christmas. Genius idea. Great for Shankman (he got to de-clutter his desk) and key to HARO's future success. Why?

1--He catered to his key audience. @skydiver now has 19,000-plus followers on Twitter. How many do you think were working Thurs/Fri? I'm guessing more than a few. How many of those folks work in media relations/PR? I can't speak for the media folks, but we PR peeps need all the free stuff we can get. Most importantly, he knew his audience of Tweeple would all be experiencing a slow work day so he'd have their undivided attention. He knew his audience, understood their frustrations (working on Christmas-big bummer) and needs (free stuff) and what would pique their interest. Hmmm...media relations colleagues, sound familiar?

2--He created a whole new legion of HARO followers, believers and advocates. If you visit shankman.com you'll see his first-hand account of his original plan for the giveaway and the initial reaction. After his announcement on Christmas Eve, he suddenly had 400 new Twitter followers. That's 400 more people to help spread the HARO message and further the HARO--and Shankman--brand. Pretty stellar result for someone who was just trying to de-clutter his desk by giving away some SWAG on a holiday.

3--He knows the word-of-mouth game. The brilliance behind this idea: the bulk of the folks who won those giveaways last week were media/PR types, right? Guess what the lion's share of media/PR types like to do? Communicate. Especially about products, services and experiences they've won recently. You're telling me whoever won that trip to Tahoe or those blacksmithing lessons isn't going to be talking about that to their friends, family and colleagues for the next six months. Great way to introduce the brands of the companies who donated items to the Tweeple masses and Shankman followers--creating a whole new slew of brand champions for these organizations.

4--He's not afraid to try new things. For a day-and-a-half, Peter held the giveaway all on Twitter. Enter @brianshaler. Suddenly, we had a live stream of "two guys and a couch" (if you followed, you understand that reference). For those of you who know or have met @skydiver, he's an engaging fellow, which is why the video was so powerful. In a matter of minutes, it went from online giveaway to interactive entertainment experience. Not all of it was riveting. But it was funny, human (you could actually see him realizing he messed up with the final answer) and honest (can't hide from the camera). In any case, the real lesson here is he wasn't afraid to try something new on the fly (fairly sure he wasn't planning to do that--then again, I could be wrong). As companies navigate this unsettled economy, they may start implementing strategies and tactics they once thought to be impossible, ineffective or risky to build their brands or jump-start revenues. Like Shankman, these organizations are going to take risks and try new approaches to reach their key audiences.

What do you think? Smart move by @skydiver? Lame self-promotional stunt? Typical Shankman? Or pure genius?

13 comments:

Serenity Now! said...

Typical Shankman AND pure genius.

Matt Scherer said...

Brilliant move by Peter S.

whysgirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
whysgirl said...

I vote for genius... and not just because I won a free shirt from teecycle.org. :)

votrevray said...

Shankman is my hero...genius all the way.

Roberta said...

Genius! I am a huge fan and have started using social media to promote my clients because of him.

I also stand in awe of the power he holds in that he slams (an honest beef) Tivo on Twitter and within hours they responded and resolved his issue. Wanna bet that would happen to most other people.

Peter Shankman is the new EF Hutton. When he talks, people listen!

In my book, he has done the most in 2008 to advance new thinking in the PR industry. He's on my top ten list of people, books, music and phrases that have had profound impact on my life this year.

Rain said...

Hmmm, actually, from the post we've been directed to read at his website, it looks more like he fell ass-backwards into the whole thing becoming what it turned out to be.

I'm sure that somewhere along the way he realized the momentum and actively encouraged it, but the 'pure genius' of a master plot doesn't sound like how Shankman describes it himself.

At any rate, it turned out very well for him and I'm sure we all learned a little something from this tactic.

Drsusanrmeyer said...

Ditto Serenity Now! - Pure genius IS typical Shankman!

Maryn McKenna said...

Typical Shankman, *and* genius, because it was forward-thinking, he conducted it with insane energy, and yet he made it look effortless. (OK, until he started getting tired at the end.)

Warren said...

Brilliant and when Brian Shaler hooked up the camera to live stream, then it was pure genius.

mama j said...

I'm going with genius...because at my age I couldn't even figure out how to go the giveaway! Twitter what? Got it now, I think?

Wendy Kincade / BlueSkyMorning said...

Genius might be pushing it a bit. But it was fun watching the whole thing evolve and unfold. The most interesting thing for me was finding out how many people (including myself) had nothing better to do those days than play trivia pursuit and follow a twitter give-a-way. Peter did a great job of capitalizing on the moment, and having Brian jump in was icing on the cake. The two additional visitors, and the cat exchange, definitely helped add to the "reality ambience." @wkincade

rkpr said...

Great post! I represent the agency that provided the Reno-Tahoe trip (@ronele). Little did we know what an incredible opportunity it provided for the area but also to be involved in this historic Twitter Trivia giveaway. By donating a prize, we were also thanking Peter for all he does for us PR folks all year. Yeah, we think Peter is a genius! Looking forward to the next one.