PR and The World of Action Sports – Quiksilver Leverages Clay Marzo & Asperger’s Syndrome
We touched on this a little bit already, but it’s worth bringing up again.
In the world of action sports PR, at least when it comes to surf, Quiksilver does a pretty impressive job. Sure, when you’ve got Kelly Slater on your team, the placements come easy. But Quik’s success with media goes beyond Slater and the regular t-shirt feature in XYZ Magazine. They’ve got a solid communications team in place, not to mention some great online initiatives that position the brand as a media source and not just makers of fine t-shirts and skate-specific denim.
One example, the recent Clay Marzo coverage in both Outside and ESPN The Magazine (as well as online coverage by both, including a video piece by The Magazine).
For those that don’t follow surfing, Clay is ridiculously good. While he hasn’t qualified for the ASP, it hasn’t kept him from receiving endemic/surf industry coverage and props from his peers.
Clay also has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of high-functioning autism. It presents him with some challenges, but it also gives Quiksilver one more pitch point for the Clay Marzo story when dealing with non-endemic media. Clay isn’t just a great surfer, he’s a great surfer with a challenge. Is it opportunistic to highlight this challenge for media coverage? Maybe, but the piece also draws greater attention to Asperger’s Syndrome and probably inspires/helps more than a few other kids with similar conditions and their families. You can watch the video piece on ESPN here.
More than a few times we’ve gotten calls from potential clients looking for help with PR and asking “how much for a press release?” We gently explain that while press releases are great PR tools, they’re not the end all. They’re one piece of your kit, like a hammer in your toolbox. The hammer can help you build something, but on it’s own, without wood, nails, etc., it’s not much use. There’s a strategy to PR that goes beyond telling a magazine what hoodies are hot for Fall 2010.
The ability to go beyond the basic story is what separates a good PR strategy from an ok one. Obvious product pitches aside, there’s almost always a back-story to leverage. Perhaps it’s a company’s heritage in the space, or a product designer’s unique inspiration for a new piece of gear (Burton had a great piece last year comparing a binding to the Aeron chair). The stories are out there and the media are willing to tell them if positioned the right way.
Quiksilver gets it. Who else do you think is doing a good job?
Total disclosure: We’ve worked with Quiksilver before on a few projects, but not recently and not on this pitch.