This “media opportunity alert” arrived in my inbox:
Hi, Porter, Thought you might have interest in checking out this event spotlighting Mark Ballas and girlfriend BC Jean.
The singer-songwriter duo has teamed up with Charmin for the December celebration of restrooms in Times Square–an entire storefront of unique, unforgettable, state-of-the-art bathrooms free to the public (timely for the holiday season in NYC).
On December 19th, Jean and Ballas will perform singing and dance routines on-site.
Happy to have you there for a front row seat/interview with BC and Mark.
Please let me know if you’re interested?
I wrote back:
Hi, Nadia, I cover the international book publishing industry. Despite what many may think of books these days, our publishers do not believe we’re talking about toilet paper. Yet. Thanks, though.
With the help of AdWeek, I’ve learned that from 2006 to 2010, Charmin rented space in which to create bathrooms for seasonal shoppers in Times Square. It has revived this holiday tradition this year at 1601 Broadway between 48th and 49th Streets with 14 “themed bathrooms” open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. for shoppers, through December 24.
The first thing we learn here is that if you work for a toilet paper company, you’d better love bathroom jokes. This is Procter & Gamble at work, squeezing the Charmin for every last available pun. All’s fair in love and advertising.
But the second thing we learn here–and the reason I’m subjecting you to this plumber’s view of American marketing–is how a publicity person/PR agent should not be operating. If you’ve got a publicist for your books or are thinking of hiring one, you need to know what this dynamic looks like from the journalist’s side of the stall door.
My provocation for you today comes in the form of three questions with which to quiz your publicity person.