Good PR Can Guarantee High Job Approval Ratings and High Stock Prices What government and the private sector can learn from one another
Media Relations and the Price of Stock
In 2004 I self-published “Priceline.com: A Layman’s Guide to Manipulating the Media.”
One of the poster boys of the dot-com revolution was Jay Walker, who came up with the idea of bidding for airline tickets and founded the multibillion-dollar priceline.com.
Like Eisenhower, Walker and his CEO, Richard Braddock, were masters of PR, making themselves always available to the media. Each time Walker announced that a new airline joined the program, a press release went out. In a blizzard of activity, he signed up an array of nationally known companies that agreed to use the priceline.com system so that consumers could bid on not only airline seats but also hotel rooms, rental cars, telephone services, mortgages, credit cards, automobile and truck purchases, and even groceries. In all, Walker made 47 such alliances.
In the course of 1999, priceline.com issued 111 press releases and generated 5,851 news stories—virtually all of them highly complimentary. The reporters for Forbes, Fortune, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and business sections around the country were like giddy old men at a Britney Spears concert. The media could not get enough of priceline.com and its brilliant, articulate, wildly enthusiastic founder who could sell Viagra to a eunuch.
Running concurrently with the massive PR effort was a series of recklessly upbeat reports issued by financial analysts from major Wall Street investment firms and a $252 million TV and radio campaign starring William (Captain Kirk of “Star Trek”) Shatner that captivated the country.
And the stock!
The issue price of the IPO on March 31, 1999 was $16. One month later it hit a high of $165. “A 10-Bagger!” crowed lead underwriter Morgan Stanley, using Wall Street’s term for a stock that goes to 10 times the issue price.