Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Mighty Mouse Storms Gotham (How a Little Rat Became the Big Cheese)

One of the constant themes I look for when it comes to media relations involves taking lemons and turning them into lemonade. Some organizations have a knack for putting a positive spin on events that could be viewed in a negative light. Other organizations miss some golden opportunities.

Case in point, New York City.

If you spend much time on social media you’ve probably heard about the latest Internet sensation: The New York City Rat. This determined rodent was videotaped dragging an enormous slice of cheese pizza down the steps of the 1st Avenue subway station.

A Youtube clip was posted on September 21, 2015 by a comedian named Matt Little.

New York is no stranger to rats. But this particular rat and his "can do" spirit touched a nerve. Over night “Pizza Rat” became an international celebrity. Within 24 hours the video generated more than 1.6 million views on YouTube.

Pizza Rat exploded in the national press. Time, The New Yorker, BuzzFeed and The Today Show are just a few of the outlets running with this story.
Inc.com has a story up: 6 Things You’ll Learn About Success From #PizzaRat .
Twitter is alive with #PizzaRat comments:

Somewhere in Manhattan, a pizza shop (probably hundreds of them) is claiming to be the maker of Pizza Rat’s favorite snack food.

So what is New York City doing to take advantage of the #PizzaRat craze? Apparently, not much. 

Not a word from the official New York City social media outlets. Mayor Bill de Blasio hasn't commented on his Facebook page or on his Twitter feed or on his Instagram account. The mayor's latest posts concern solar power -- certainly a worthwhile issue -- but it doesn't have the pizzazz of the Pizza Rat story.

In fairness, I realize the Pope is coming to town, and everybody is probably pretty busy with that. But no matter what's going on, you need to be quick on your feet when a public relations opportunity opens up.

I know, I know: rats carry disease and are a potential health hazard. According to WikipediA there are approximately two million rats roaming the streets of New York City. And I will guess the city's top brass doesn't want to call attention to it. 

Then again, it's no secret that rats are part of life in the city. And this is an opportunity for the Big Apple to have a little fun.

How would you handle this one? Perhaps you could use #PizzaRat to promote the irresistible dining opportunities in Manhattan? Mass Transit? How about New York's wild life? 

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