Disney: Marketing Genius? Yes! PR Guru? Mmm…not so much.

This week I attended a press junket at the Disneyland theme park. The resort was opening a new attraction in Tomorrowland called the Innovations Dream Home and the exhibit featured one of Merlot’s clients, Eldorado Stone. As a marketing professional, it is always a treat to visit the world of Disney because it is fascinating to experience an environment driven by marketing. However, as a PR professional, I was eager to experience Disney’s PR style and expertise. A strong believer in the best practices approach, I wanted to see if they did things better or differently.

One of the Walt Disney mission values is “Fanatical attention to consistency and detail.” This event did not meet this mission. Maybe, I just had high expectations because 1). I always do and 2). IT’S DISNEY! For example, the day started at 10:00 a.m. with a self-guided tour in the air conditioned Innovations Dream Home. It ended outside at 1:30 p.m. in the 90 degree weather (mind you, we are all wearing suits) with a 45 minute presentation from a variety of sponsors, including the president of Disney. Doesn’t this seem backwards to you? The day should have started with the presentation in the morning (when the weather was comfortable) so that the sponsors could explain what the press was going to see when they toured the house. Instead, they let the press tour the house by themselves in the morning without any idea of what they were supposed to be observing and then made them sit outside in the sun, waiting for the presenters to begin (don’t even get me started on the presentation).

In the end, what I realized is that if you are a marketing giant like Disney, you just expect the media to write about you and don’t really stress over the details of their experience researching the story. Needless to say, from a PR perspective, I left the “Happiest Place on Earth” a little disappointed.

However, my colleague and I did try to catch a ride on Space Mountain before heading to the airport and the line had a three hour wait. Disney is obviously doing something right.

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