Be it ever so humble, there’s nothing like a good survey to generate buzz

Despite their vehement protestations to the contrary, the media take to surveys like bees to honey.

The most recent example is a very smart, pre-Oscar night survey undertaken by NYC-based Heartland_4 Heartland Breweries. They asked 800 customers of their five Big Apple restaurants to name the all-time best beer movies. Not surprisingly, "Animal House" finished first with "Old School" in the runner-up spot. The shocker, though, was "All about Eve" which ended up number 12. Apparently, the restaurant chain denizens are a much more erudite lot than one might expect.

Anyway, surveys like this are smart marketing and brand awareness tools. Not only did a fairly obscure restaurant break through in the NYC print media, but several radio stations were busy communicating the survey results as well. One can only imagine how much business the survey will generate for Heartland.

So, I will ask a certain medical supplies executive who frequents the Repman blog and insists that advertising is a smarter, more effective marketing spend than PR, if he could guess at a corresponding advertising dollar figure for this kind of awareness and credibility. If I had to speculate at the amount of advertising Heartland would have had to run to equal today’s buzz, I’d put the figure in the low seven figures minimum  (BTW, I bet the entire survey project and press release distribution cost less than $5,000).

All of which reinforces my unequivocal belief that PR is quite simply the smartest, most strategic and most cost effective way for marketers to break through. Now, where did I leave my beer?"

5 thoughts on “Be it ever so humble, there’s nothing like a good survey to generate buzz

  1. I-man, what you missed was the radio and tv coverage of the survey. It was everywhere. And, yes, even tourists read the Daily News. It’s part of the New York experience.

  2. Just found your reply to be very interesting. You are 100% correct that I am not Heartland’s target market, but you mention that they target tourists visiting NYC. So I googled Heartland and found the one story that appeared in the NY Daily News about the survey. (Google didn’t show the radio results).
    I pose the followin question to you: How many “tourists” do you think picked up a copy of the daily news, actually read whole the paper to see this article, and then based on an article that had nothing about the quality of the food, drinks, or experience, said “hey, lets go eat there b/c they did a funny survey?” yes, it generated buzz, but I would bet that buzz here doesnt equal sales.
    Like you always say, messaging is key. An article in the same paper about their dining experience (assuming it is positive) would generate sales. I doubt this did…but I have been wrong before.
    PS- A positive article about a such an establishment is an example where I 100% agree PR is worth its weight in gold. That would get folks in seats b/c its a third party endoresement.

  3. I-man, did you ever stop to think that maybe you might not be a Heartland Brewery target? In fact, the restaurant chain targets tourists visiting NYC. This sort of publicity is exactly the type of thing that would get an out-of-towner’s attention and prompt him or her to try dinner at a Heartland. Do everyone a favor and sit tight in the medical supplies field. They need your thinking a lot more than those of us in marketing do.

  4. One last point I failed to mention. I also think that millions of dollars are wasted on ads as well. Sure, a commercial might make me laugh or remember a product but in most cases doesn’t lead to a direct sale.
    For the super bowl, my point was that the companies spend the money b/c they know that the million being spent will almost guarantee that a certain amount of people in given demographic will be a captive audience for their ad. And, they could spend that same money on the world’s best PR firm and have ZERO to show for it. So yes, in the case of the superbowl, I believe that companies know going in EXACTLY what they are getting and they make a business decision to pay for it.

  5. Wow, a shout out on the front page…is there any way I could get a link to my site to put the cherry on top of that free PR? And it didn’t even cost me a penny 🙂
    To address your point, I don’t think I ever said (correct me if I am wrong) that there is no value in PR. As you mentioned in a previous post, this erstwhile PR flack certainly understands the value that PR brings to the table. However, your last post about super bowl dollars being spent on PR is what I disagreed with.
    My belief is that in most cases, recognized brands and companies don’t need to spend major dollars or time on PR except 1) to announce new and truly unique products 2) to announce a breakthrough or milestone 3) to let the public know of some wonderful donation or humanitarian effort the company undertook. Reason is simple- if I pick up today’s NY Times and read that Carlos Piazza was named CFO at Ford, am I going to buy a Ford car b/c of that- no. Sure, If I was in the market for a car and read how a new Ford Car had a breakthrough feature, then I would at least take a look, but that is now what is in the paper everyday. And since even major companies don’t have earth shattering news everyday, PR firms are forced to “develop” news.
    That goes back to the whole survey thing. In this case, I totally agree that Heartland got a great bang for its buck. And I also agree that in the case of breaking through the clutter, PR is a fantastic tool for a small/midsize company if the PR firm they hire knows how to do that. But imagine if GM came out with a survey today about the “coolest car in a movie.” Will that make me buy a GM car or even think anything more or les of GM- no.
    I know that Peppercom loves to use surveys as a PR tool to “create” news and thus the reason why you loved this PR move and sucess from Heartland. But personally, am I going to Heartland today, tomorrow or the day after b/c they were in the news about a surbey- no.
    I guess we can agree to disagree about PR. Sure, it has it moments and value, but then again, so did the Mets the last few years. Doesn’t mean they hoisted any trophies or even played a “meaningful” games in September.