Michael Porter

Fake Palms, Parrotheads and Ribbons

Just for fun, I put on my Parrothead gear and went out to the Mall of America (MOA) for the official ribbon cutting of the newest Margaritaville Cafe. Getting there early gave me a chance to observe the organized vs. organic nature of a 21st century “press” event.


In the picture above, you can see MOA senior vice president of marketing and business development Jill Renslow '09 M.B.C. give her official welcome to the restaurant. Note the crowd of tropically clad heads? These are members of the MinneSomeplace Parrothead club, who had been invited and moments before herded to the front. The people they displaced were decidedly more corporate looking. Also note that the two people who appear to be on stage with Jill are actually on very high stilts in front of the stage.

Below, you can see all the important people being led by RadioMargaritaville DJ, JD Spradlin, in a margarita toast to the opening. In addition to flying Spradlin in from his Orlando studio, the firm had a number of other corporate folks from warmer climates on hand.


Other than those costs, the PR team appears to have forked out tickets for free margaritas (at 10:30 a.m.) for the very happy Parrotheads, who filled the restaurant in moments and started ordering lunch. Okay, not right away, there were drinks flowing.

As an old-time PR guy, the one thing missing at the moment of the ribbon cutting was any real sign of the press. There was a corporate photographer working his way around, but he could have been working for either the mall or the restaurant.


But, do we really need the “press” there with a core of Buffett fans who you can see had their phones poised to document the whole thing. And frankly, I officially joined the press corps on this junket – posting to my Facebook and now this blog post. Spradlin specifically asked us to tag him and link to his site after we had our pictures taken with him.

Yes, the media are literally in our pockets and, as long as we follow through with links, the system works.

Fins up!

Dr. Michael C. Porter, APR is director of the MS in Health Care Communication at the Opus College of Business.