Outside the box - When overworked and understaffed, casino execs often outsource their PR and marketing functions
November 2, 2008
by Matt Connor
excerpt from original story
Let’s say you’re the PR director for a Las Vegas-based casino resort hotel, when, in a single week, your president is indicted for tax fraud and there’s a Legionnaire’s Disease outbreak on the third floor of one of your hotel towers. Meanwhile, a TV crew is filming a poker tournament in your card room for a cable TV show and a new $28 million production is about to debut in your theater space.
On top of all that, everyone from Barbara Walters to the gaming columnist for the local 10,000-circulation newspaper wants to schedule an interview with your scandal-plagued president.
You are dangerously close to completely losing control of your property’s public image and causing a meltdown in its stock price. It’s time to call in an outside PR firm to help you get things back on track.
“One of the things that we propose when we are engaging with a new hotel resort or a casino, and one of the programs that Preferred PR puts together immediately, is a crisis communications plan for an unforeseen tragedy or nightmare,” said Michele Tell, one of the principals of Preferred Public Relations in Las Vegas. “You hope, just like with insurance, that the crisis communications plan sits on a shelf and collects dust and you never have to use it, but that’s one of the programs we put together.
“It’s a very stellar ‘what if’ crisis communication plan,” she continued. “That is one of the tools we specialize in, so we’re often hired for that. But you hope you never have to use it or look at it again. It’s something we lay on the line with new clients that they need to have as a part of our world.”
A scenario like the one portrayed above almost never occurs in real life, of course. Tell said she’s more often confronted by overworked in-house PR and marketing professionals who may simply be short on the resources necessary to launch a large-scale campaign to promote a new casino opening, renovation or entertainment offering.
“The majority of the casino hotel departments we work with are on the smaller side,” said Tell, who in an earlier stage of her career was PR director for the MGM Grand. “When they outsource to a professional strategic public relations agency like Preferred Public Relations, they’re getting an entire team added to their internal team and that’s definitely a cost-effective measure. Rather than hiring 25 people in-house, they have the use of a strategic marketing team.
“When I was on the inside. I hired out because I needed agencies that had a very specific expertise or a very specific niche in the market that I needed. From the internal standpoint, you’re really reactive. You’re getting dozens and dozens of phone calls and requests from around the world and now with emails, journalists are asking for different things from around the world.
“You’re pulled in so many directions that it’s really more of a reactive state of mind when you’re on the inside. When you’re on the outside, you’re able to be more proactive, more strategic and more forward-thinking.”