“Doing good and telling” still works

Doing good and telling.

It’s one of the first definitions of public relations I learned. It goes back to the 70s when I was a clueless sophomore at Ohio University. It was before the Grunigs gave us the symmetrical model, but not before Cutlip & Center included “responsible performance” as one of four major components in their 1952 definition of PR.

Wherever it came from, that old concept of “doing good stephon_marbury.jpgand telling” hit home yesterday when I read about a celebrity appearance by NBA star Stephon Marbury in Ashtabula, Ohio. Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Sam Fullwood, III, spent Sunday afternoon with Marbury as the New York Knicks guard signed autographs and promoted his line of athletic shoes, Starbury Ones.

What’s the big deal about an overpaid NBA celeb hawking basketball shoes AND getting front-page coverage? Here’s what: Those flashy Starbury Ones sell for a whopping $14.95. And they are flying off the shelves at Steve & Barry’s University Sportwear outlets. It seems that Marbury hooked up with S&B while looking for a way to promote a low-cost line of sportswear – decent athletic clothing that poor kids and their folks can afford. S&B wanted to grow the business without spending big ad bucks, and Marbury’s concept was the perfect way to create the buzz. In the process, they bucked the trend toward obscenely priced sneaks from Nike, Reebok et.al.

Opportunity met opportunity. And Marbury got to make his statement. Says Fullwood: “Marbury wants to reverse the false values that go foot in shoe with paying up to $200 to wear what the basketball gods play in. There’s no reason kids should kill each other over shoes.”

As Marbury signed autographs for plenty of those kids from the ‘hood, the NBA star told Fullwood: “I grew up just like these kids. I walked in their shoes.”

A little trite, perhaps. But a great example of how public relations can change our world, or at least tell us about people and companies who do. The campaign helps Marbury smooth the rough edges of his own image by doing something that touches people’s lives. It helps innovative entrepreneurs Steve & Barry’s to build brand by selling clothes for under $8.

I’m hoping some of the veteran bloggers who follow marketing innovations, e.g., Buzz Machine, and media relations trackers like BadPitch or MissesandHits to see the value in the Steve & Barry’s story, and they’ll reach WAY more folks than I can ever hope to on this, Day 4 of ToughSledding. S&B is an innovative retailer who won’t stay below the radar for long. At least so long as they keep on doing good and telling.

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